Facing job cuts

Job cuts: Coping with job losses due to COVID-19

It was a Saturday night. Ritu Sharma (name changed) got a text from her HR department, checking if she would be available on call. Ritu shares, “I had heard buzz about impending job cuts at my firm due to COVID-19. We recently had a pay cut. So, I assumed, at least for a while, there would be no job losses. However, when I got this text, I knew something was up, and texted my manager, who did not reply. That’s when I knew something was not right. A few minutes into the call, my suspicions were confirmed.”

Coming to terms with job cuts

Ritu shares that like many, she too, was emotionally and financially invested in her work. So, it did take time to accept that she was staring at a job cut during a pandemic.

She adds, “I listened to what HR had to say, and then asked some pointed questions enquiring about the full and final settlement, and the process I would have to go through to complete it. Rather than mull over what had happened, and slip into depression, I chose to cut off and move on.”

Letting yourself feel is okay

While this worked for Ritu, this approach may not work for everyone. According to psychiatrist Parul Tank, “Different people handle a crisis like job cuts differently. Many are overwhelmed with their financial liabilities, and responsibilities. It’s okay, to mourn, feel sad and to reminisce about the good and bad memories. However, you need to set a timeframe for dealing with your grief.”

The right timeframe for grieving is…

Parul further adds, “This timeframe is a variable concept.  For some, it’s a few hours, for others a few days or weeks but do not extend this grieving period to months and years.”

How to transition from grief to acceptance

Reach out to your near and dear ones and to all in your network. Brace yourself for rejections. Tell yourself, it’s okay to fail, and pick yourself up. Rather than continuously ruminate about it, Parul shares that if you feel that you are stuck in time, please seek professional help.

Signs that you need help

Look out for symptoms of stress. Are you feeling anxious or low throughout the day? Is your mind drawing a blank? Are you feeling like your self-worth and self-esteem has vanished with your job? Are you grappling with a lot of negative thoughts, emotions and ideas? Has your sleeping and eating pattern been disrupted? Are you crying all the time? Do you feel you are not able to make decisions? Are people sharing that they feel your decision making has been impaired?

Parul adds that if your answer to most of these questions is in the affirmative, you could be suffering from depression or anxiety, which is treatable. You should definitely seek professional advice.

Mental health exercises that can help you

Parul advocates trying regular breathing exercises and practicing mindfulness. She says the latter deals with simple breathing, and focusing on your body, and your senses around you. It helps you centre your mind a bit. Following a regular timetable/routine also helps.