How to cope with a job loss or a sudden career change later in life

Many of us hope for a successful long-term career that will lead us to graceful and honorable retirement after years of good work. But sometimes, events unfold not as we’ve planned them. Or maybe the change was expected. Regardless of whether the career shift was anticipated or not, it brings a lot of things to worry about. Suddenly, you don’t have funds to afford that long list of things you have to pay for to supply your life.

A high level of stress and grief

Losing a job as an older person may result in lots of grief. It’s stressful to lose your position at any point in life, even during student years. It’s difficult to lose a source of money. But for older workers, it might be a devastating situation, especially when they have a family to care for, other financial and community responsibilities. A job loss also can harm one’s self-esteem, make them feel powerless and out of control.

The need to start over

Getting a new job doesn’t fix everything. Even a positive change brings stress. While getting a new job may add some improvements to our lives, such as a higher salary, any benefits from the company, more professional opportunities, it might also bring issues. For example, we could find ourselves in a position where we are no longer an “expert” because we are closer to the bottom of the career ladder in this company. Also, a new job might need us to rearrange our daily life, which can be very stressful and frustrating, too.

Coping instruments to know

Stress caused by job loss is not much different from other kinds of stress. So the coping skills are quite similar. There are a couple of things that must be in the core of your daily life — you need to eat healthy and nutritious food, get enough quality sleep, be physically active. In other words, it’s vital to take care of our physical condition. That will give you the energy you need to handle the stress.

Plan and get ready

It’s important to be ready for any situation. Even though planning can be stressful by itself, bringing a fair amount of anxiety, if you have a decent plan for a certain predicament, it will be less stressful when you face it. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for help and always let your friends and family members who will be impacted by these changes know what you are going to do in the nearest future. Planning everything to the details allows us to get that much-needed structure that will be a cornerstone of our well-being during difficult times. And see if you can outsource some things — for example, if a new job gives you more income, think about getting assistants that will take care of daily tasks such as cleaning.

Take care of yourself

It’s important to be kind to yourself and take mental health breaks. Even if you feel like you don’t have time or resources for anything that could make you feel less stressed, you should find a way to do those things. Meet your friends, start seeing a therapist, ask your family for support. Remember that it’s okay to be frustrated, scared, and feel lost. It’s also normal to dislike the new job if that’s the case. Even if you feel guilty for not being happy with a new job — it’s also fine. Try to find peace with your emotions and be patient with yourself and your family. This transition period will pass.

Rewards are vital

Don’t forget to reward yourself even for small things. And it’s better to plan these rewards. For example, you could set some time aside in the evening for your hobby as a reward for a hard day of work. Or you could reward yourself with some family time to feel appreciated, loved, and cared for.

Remember that it’s okay to grieve, feel stressed and frustrated. All you need is a bit of planning and a couple of things that will let you cope with it — something that comforts you. Then you’ll successfully go through this phase with as minimal damage as possible.