Coping with Job Loss and Rebuilding Your Life

This article is by Morgan Werner and published by RCA


No matter what has caused you to lose your job – losing employment can be devastating, and if you aren’t managing your stress in healthy ways, relapse can be right around the corner. In order to avoid slipping back into old behaviors, follow these important tips as you begin to navigate your new situation.

Recovery Before Everything
If you’re in recovery, it’s likely you have heard the saying “anything you put before your recovery, you risk losing” hundreds of times. Though it is challenging and at times, putting your recovery first can feel selfish; but the reality is your recovery is life sustaining – it’s crucial. You simply cannot be a present parent, child, employee, or friend if you are not focused on being your best self first. Remember, the disease of addiction has no cure, so in order to live a fulfilling life in recovery, you must wake up every day with the intent and purpose to live one more day clean and sober – that means putting self-care before everything else.

Create a Daily Routine
In recovery, consistency is key. Yes, you’ve lost your job – but that doesn’t mean you should lose anything else too. Develop a new, structured daily routine to practice self-care, which is sure to decrease stress and improve both your mental and physical health.

Here are some ideas you can include in your new daily routine:

  • Wake up at the same time, every morning
  • Practice other forms of self-care such as yoga or meditation
  • Set up an exercise regimen
  • Plan healthy meals
  • Write on your current step or keep a daily journal
  • Build out specific time slots for job hunting

Stay Positive and Patient
Letting go of the concept of instant gratification for those in recovery is an especially common challenge. In active addiction, impulse control falls by the wayside, because the struggling addict is continuously looking for a quick fix. Unfortunately, when it comes to unemployment, there is no quick fix. The only solution for unemployment is hard work, diligence, and patience. Remember, all good things come to those who wait, so if you’re able to remain patient throughout this process, the accomplishment of landing that perfect job will be all that more satisfying.

Because unemployment does not often yield instant results, it’s easy to allow negative thoughts to seep in. Negativity can impede your ability to flourish in the job market. This article by Forbes highlights the importance of staying positive through your job hunting experience, stating that prospective employers often look for candidates who reflect a positive state of mind. In order to keep a positive mental attitude, try creating a list including all your great qualities, skills, strengths, and accomplishments; both personally and professionally. Whenever you’re feeling down on your luck or before entering an interview, review this list for a confidence boost.

Need some help getting started on this list? As those closest to you. They know all your best qualities and would likely love to share them with you!

Release Some Control
This can be a hard truth for some to swallow: After applying or participating in an interview, everything is out of your hands. You can’t control whether you receive a call back and you certainly can’t control whether the employer decides to bring you on board or not. For those in recovery, that loss of control can be frightening and trigger old impulsive behavior, so be sure to channel your energy and shift your focus onto the things you can control. Spend some time sprucing up your resume to reflect your achievements and skills, work on writing an excellent cover letter, learn a new skill, or obtain a certificate that may help you stand out amongst other applicants – these are all within your range of control.

Keep Connected with Your Support Network
Periods of unemployment can feel like a financial and emotional crisis, and because of this, it can be easy to find yourself wanting to isolate. But you know this all too well – isolation is dangerous. If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed with your new situation, lean on your support network – it’s more than likely that they have at one point or another faced the same circumstance. Ask your sponsor to go for coffee, invite some friends in recovery to go on a hike, or catch up with some fellow RCA alumni at an event or meeting. Be kind to yourself and remember that it’s okay to step away from your job hunt periodically – in fact, it’s perfectly healthy! Doing this will refresh your mind and spirit so that you’re able to refocus on your goals.

Keep in mind: Your peers in recovery are working professionals, and they may be some of the best resources when it comes to job hunting. Be sure to speak up before, during, and after meetings to let your network know that you are seeking gainful employment – they may be able to steer you in the right direction. You may even want to ask some individuals within your close circle to help you in preparation for an important interview or to look at your resume with fresh eyes. The more feedback you can get, the more positive results you will likely have.

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