Dear Dr. Josh,
Fifteen people in my office just were laid off. I “survived” but am a nervous wreck. What can I do? I should feel lucky, but I don’t.
Fear, anxiety and survivor guilt are all very common during a layoff—feelings of “why did I get to stay?” And “when will I be let go?” can be very hard to handle. The key is to try and channel that fear and guilt in a productive way. Here are some simple tips to help you cope:
Try to get accurate information
Don’t assume why people were laid off and don’t trust rumors. If possible, find out why people were laid off—what were the specific circumstances?
Ask about your future with the company
get a realistic picture of what is going to happen. You can ask your supervisor where you stand and when would you be notified if it were to occur.
Work on dealing with the extra work
Find out from a supervisor what exactly is expected of you to manage the work of those who have been let go. Try and commit to working regular — not extra long hours. You are no good to the company if your workload starts to take a toll on your mental and physical health.
Layoffs are a warning sign that more may be coming. Don’t put your head in the sand. Use this as an opportunity to tune up your resume and start networking.
Manage your stress
Be active about managing the stress and guilt of the layoffs. Healthy eating, exercising, getting enough sleep and spending time with family and friends will all help you manage the situation much, much better.