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  • Brianna Paruolo

How to Protect Your Mental Well-Being When Layoffs Are Looming

Whether you're the one who was laid off, the one doing the laying off, or the one consuming information regarding nationwide lay-offs, turbulent times in the workplace can stir feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and depression.

As someone personally impacted by a wind down in business this past year, daily supportive conversations with co-workers, strong leadership, and prioritization of my mental health helped me navigate the roller coaster of emotions around losing my job.

Here are some ways to protect your mental well-being when layoffs are looming.

Focus on separating Fact from Feeling

Facts are supported by evidence, while my memories and core beliefs influence feelings. No matter how strong the feeling is- it is not a fact. For example, let's say your manager is taking more time than usual to reply to your inquiry. Your anxiety might try to convince you that the feeling of not being a worthy enough worker to receive an answer is indeed a fact. Labeling the feeling as a fact can lead to more negative thinking patterns, stress, and anxiety. When your mind feels like it's in overdrive, make a table to differentiate Fact from Feeling. Addressing these feelings during a 1:1 conversation can also help ease any feelings of uncertainty.

Focus on What's in Your Control

Practice mindfulness skills to take control of your mind and pay attention to the present on purpose. While mindfulness can't make problems disappear, it can help you understand what to focus on and when.

Create a safe space: In your mind's eye, create a safe and comfortable space; notice how it looks, feels, and sounds. Stay in this space for a while and know that you can always revisit when you need to self-soothe.

Mindful Movement: If your environment allows you, take a walk outside or around your office space. Let go of any distractions, thoughts, and emotions that aren't serving you at this very moment. Make up a game with yourself, like looking for a specific color in nature, and count the number of objects you find.

Square breathing: Start by breathing in for four seconds. Hold your breath for four seconds, and then breathe out for another four seconds. Repeat four times.

Make Yourself a Priority

Carve out the time, even if it's for 5-minutes, to do something that makes you feel good. This might look like re-watching your favorite episode of a feel-good show, talking to a friend about a topic that brings you joy, enjoying a warm bath, or dancing like no one's watching to your guilty pleasure song/album.

Don't Force Toxic Positivity

Loss of any kind can have some resorting to telling themselves (or others) to "just get on with it; people have it much worse." The problem with that mindset is that it minimizes and suppresses one's true feelings and experiences. You shouldn't be expected to maintain a positive attitude during a hardship. Give yourself and others space to navigate their emotions, validating each other.

Mindful Consumption

While staying informed and educated is important, so is your mental health! Check in with yourself after interacting with a post regarding a recent lay-off. Start with a simple check-in with a 5-point scale about how they feel after consuming content through an app like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.

- Be selective with what you take in

- Set time limits

- Swap with a neutral or positive action (walking away from the computer, playing with a furry friend, engaging with content that brings you joy)

Professional Resources

Although your friends and family might have the best intentions, they might not be the best suited to help with feelings of depression and anxiety that might arise. If feelings persist and begin to feel unmanageable, know that a trained mental health professional can help support you during an emotionally strenuous time. 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is there 24/7 to help anyone experiencing a suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress.

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