From Stress to Success: Coping with Layoff Anxiety

6 mins

Layoffs are a harsh reality in today's fast-paced economy. When companies struggle to stay p...

Layoffs are a harsh reality in today's fast-paced economy. When companies struggle to stay profitable in the face of economic downturns, technology, and global changes, they will often reduce their headcount.


In recent months, many U.S. companies have implemented layoffs or announced plans to do so, leading to widespread anxiety among employees.


From tech giants like Google, Twitter, and Amazon to start-ups like Lyft, Meta, Stripe, and Asana, even industry leaders like Peloton, Shopify, and Netflix have had to resort to mass job cuts. According to Crunchbase News, over 58,000 tech workers in the U.S. have been laid off in the first months of 2023. This includes IBM's and SAP's recent layoff announcements, resulting in palpable anxiety among employees.


80% of American employees feel insecure about their job security. It's not just a mental burden, but job insecurity can also negatively impact physical and emotional well-being, leading to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Layoffs not only impact financial stability but also personal identity and self-worth, with a ripple effect on families and communities.


Losing a job can be devastating, it's normal to feel helpless, hapless, and hopeless. But it's important to find inner strength and rebuild your confidence after a layoff. Self-belief and self-confidence are key to bouncing back. Layoff anxiety is a common experience, but it's important to focus on what you can control - your thoughts.

If you plan for the bad while you’re in the good, you’ll navigate rough waters.


Ways to control your thoughts and emotions when experiencing layoff anxiety:


1.     Distinguish reality from imagination

Be mindful of your thoughts. When you are in a high stress situation such as potential job loss, you need to curb your own questions, assumptions, and anxieties so your mind doesn’t run away with itself as it’s very easy to get sucked into overthinking. Rationalise how you feel, have a plan, ensure you have considered personal cost-saving measures, talk to your employer, and voice your concerns, make sure you have clarification before jumping to conclusions, which in hard times will cause unnecessary stress.


To keep anxiety levels low try mindfulness techniques such as breathing exercises and engaging in physical activity to let go of these thoughts.


2.     Be prepared – act proactively

Following on from our first point, if it is clear that the company will be reducing headcount, evaluate your situation. Focus on high-value projects and revenue-generating work, consider speaking to your manager about re-aligning your workload and stay informed about company news. Don't wait to re-engage with your professional network; reconnect with old colleagues and managers, and join industry groups. Keep your resume, portfolio and LinkedIn profile updated, it will give you peace of mind and prepare you for potential job changes


3.     Adopt a defensive mindset

Consider what steps you would take if you were laid off, including how to handle finances, healthcare, and job searching. This may seem negative, but it can be beneficial. This can be a powerful exercise as it helps harness anxiety and creates a sense of control in an uncertain situation. This strategy is known as defensive pessimism.


4.     Strengthen your resilience

Reflecting on past experiences and the strengths and resources that helped you overcome them can be a powerful way to build resilience. It can help you to recognize that you are able to recover from difficult situations and that challenges can also lead to growth and new opportunities. This type of reflection can help to increase feelings of self-efficacy and self-esteem, which are important components of resilience. Additionally, it can also help to provide a sense of perspective and to remind you that you have been able to handle difficult situations in the past and can do so again in the future.


5.     Develop a multi-faceted self-identity

Having a diverse sense of self, known as self-complexity, can increase resilience. A study found that people who identified solely with their work felt dehumanized and had higher levels of disengagement, depression, and burnout.


It's important to diversify your identity, similar to diversifying your finances, by investing time in hobbies, spirituality, and health. This way, when things at work aren't going well, you don't lose your entire sense of self.


Living in fear of a layoff can be debilitating but taking proactive steps to manage your mind can help ease concerns and prepare for the future.


As an HR Recruitment Consultant, I understand the concerns about layoffs and know that you are potentially going through a difficult time and hope these tips help to combat any anxieties around layoffs. I am happy to connect and share information about current job opportunities and assist in any way possible. You can contact me via LinkedIn or email at