3 ways to manage work anxiety during layoff season

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Many people deal with work-related anxieties such as:

  • “When I check my emails in the morning, I fear that I might be stopped from work.”
  • “I am working tirelessly to prove my worth as an employee and I still feel inadequate.”
  • “I look forward every day to what this corporate restructuring will mean for me.”

If you identify with the above, know that you are not alone.

The constant worry of losing your job can have a negative influence on your well-being. Nobody likes to exist in a prolonged state of uncertainty.

According to research published in Frontiers of Psychologyjob insecurity can have a detrimental effect on your motivation and focus and can cause mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.

Getting fired is hard. Feeling a wide range of emotions after a layoff – including sadness, anger, fear and anxiety – is natural.

If you’re struggling to deal with anxiety related to job insecurity or a potential layoff, here are three things you can do to manage it.

1. Identify your triggers and plan ahead

The first step is to identify what is triggering your anxiety. Knowing the cause of your anxiety can help you develop a plan to deal with your worries – perhaps using “defensive pessimism”.

A study published in Compass of Social and Personality Psychology found that defensive pessimism, or mentally practicing your worst-case scenario response, can help you manage anxiety in a healthy way.

For example, once you have some clarity about the cause of your anxiety, create a contingency plan. Think about what you would do if you were suddenly fired. What would be your course of action? Do you have emergency funds? Detail each step of your plan. Consider your approach to dealing with issues like money, health, and employment.

The activity of making contingency plans will give you a sense of control that can help calm your anxiety.

2. Remember your strength

When you are faced with a challenging situation, try to remember some of the hardest things you have successfully overcome in your life.

A study published in Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology showed that people who were led to think about a situation they overcame showed greater psychological well-being.

Immerse yourself in reflection. Start by thinking about an instance that was difficult for you to deal with and ask yourself questions like:

  • “What qualities allowed me to succeed?”
  • “How was this situation similar to my current situation?”

Remembering how you faced and overcame adversity in the past is a proven resilience strategy. This will help you to recognize your resourcefulness in case you face a layoff.

3. Your job is just part of your identity, not the whole thing.

A study published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology showed that people who reduce themselves to one attribute – their job, for example – are more likely to feel dehumanized (like nothing more than a machine or tool) and have higher levels of disengagement, depression and burnout.

This highlights the importance of diversifying your sense of self. You can start by investing in various facets of your life. For example:

  • Spend time on your hobbies🇧🇷 Pick a new one or go back to something you might have abandoned.
  • Get your fitness regimen back on track🇧🇷 Try to improve your physical and mental well-being through activities that encourage you to move your body.

Diversifying your identity can keep you from losing track of who you are when things at work aren’t going well.


Losing your job is a difficult experience, but there are things you can do to help manage your anxiety during this time. Remember that you are not alone. Stay positive. Keep your mind busy. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. And don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

3 ways to manage work anxiety during layoff season

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