Coping With Job Loss; Self Help Tips

“In whose house are you walking in at this hour? Which married woman gets home at this time of the night?” Julius glared at his wife who was walking in through the front door. He pointed menacingly at the clock that hung on the wall.

Maggie was tired, hungry and frustrated. She was to meet a client at 5.30 p.m. to make some deliveries but the client kept her waiting until 6.30 p.m. and still did not make it. Apparently the traffic from Westlands to the Nairobi city center was too heavy and the client eventually opted to use alternative routes to go to Ngong Road.

Maggie felt totally wasted. She carried the package she was to deliver to the client and reluctantly walked to the bus stop. The long queue of tired workers waiting to board the bus was not encouraging at all. It took her another one hour on the queue. The traffic leaving the city center was slow but moving. She was exhausted and longed to get home, take a warm shower and take a few moments to rest before attending to domestic chores. She looked at the clock her husband was pointing at. It was 9.06 p.m.

She stood there rooted to the ground, paper bag in hand. Julius never bothered to ask her where she was coming from, what had happened and whether she was ok. She looked at him without saying a word. She could not even cry. He grabbed a stool in anger, took aim as if he was going to throw it at her but hesitated. As she sat there not uttering a single word, many thoughts raced through her mind.


Maggie worked as subordinate staff at a private university. Her husband Julius had worked for a micro-finance as an accountant for 20 years until he got retrenched. He aggressively applied for jobs during the initial months but none came through. As time went by, it was as if he got discouraged and went slow on applying for jobs. He would spend all his free time watching movies on his laptop and sometimes go out with friends, especially over the weekend.

Maggie stepped up her efforts. She would make snacks during her free time and sell to the students and staff at the university. She would also make detergent over the weekend and sell to the same clientele. Her husband’s savings barely lasted 3 months and she found all the responsibilities resting on her shoulders. She moved the children to a cheaper school in the neighborhood but still the financial struggles continued.

Marital Conflicts

Conflicts gradually set in. She would lose her temper very easily especially when she would get home very tired and find Julius watching movies. She would ask him why he could not even utilize that time to research different ways to earn income. His answer was always the same; he had applied for jobs and was waiting for the responses.

Months dragged to a year and things were now worse in their home. Julius gradually became abusive, calling her names even in front of the children and the house help, accusing her of prostitution because she would arrive home at 8.00 or 9.00 p.m. sometimes, when she had deliveries to make after work. The insults graduated to violence, with Julius telling her that she wanted to rule him but she would know who the head of the house was. He told her time and again that he needed to be respected.

One day her first born son who was in class 6 had gone for a broom and pointed it at his dad; “When I grow up I will kill you! Mom is everything to us; she is all we’ve got!”

That had shocked Maggie to the core of her being. She looked at her son then at her daughter who was in class 3 at the time. They had suffered so much the past couple of years. She slumped into a chair and called the kids to her and hugged them, sobbing openly. Julius appeared shocked and he stood rooted to the ground where he was. He did not say a word. It was like he suddenly realized that he seemed to be an outsider in this home.

All this was replaying in Maggie’s mind as she stood there. What if Julius actually threw the stool in his hand at her? What if she got critically injured or killed? Who would take care of the children in case of such an eventuality?

That was the day Maggie moved to the children’s bedroom. She realized there and then that she did not want to fight for this marriage any more. She was letting it crumble. The marriage was beyond redemption. Within a couple of months she moved out with the children. They moved to a small house closer to the children’s school. The children would take around 15 minutes to walk to school.

The end of the month came and Julius did not have money to pay the rent. He was still waiting for the job applications to bear fruit 3 years since he lost his job. He moved to a friend’s place and when things still did not get better, he relocated to the village.

Maggie has raised the two children all on her own the past 13 years. Life has been a struggle but they are happy they have peace of mind. Julius has never got a job and he does not participate in their lives.

How To Cope With Job Loss

Challenges Associated With Job Loss

1.The number 1 problem people who lose their jobs battle with is negative thoughts and feelings. The are likely to be obsessed with thoughts of how unfair it all is. They could get overwhelmed by feelings of anger, fear, worry and grief. Being positive in a hopeless situation is an uphill task. It is very easy to end up angry and let out their frustrations on their loved ones. If not managed well, having predominantly negative thoughts and feelings can make one toxic and push away loved ones; friends, family and even acquaintances. This is the time you need them most and cannot afford to lose their support.

2. Delay to truly evaluate one’s situation, weigh possible solutions and take action. Most people allow the denial period to go on for so long they run out of money before they even have a clue how to move forward. Once a job is lost, it is important to face up to the issue within the shortest time possible and to come up with a way forward. Reach out to people very early; don’t wait.

3. Financial problems are a normal consequence of job loss. This should not be taken for granted even for a single day. If you have been used to a monthly salary, do not wait until the end of the month comes and you earn nothing for you to come to terms with the reality of being jobless. Start working on a plan to replace your income from day 1. Time moves very fast and if you don’t act fast, you will find yourself in some of the worst crises you have ever imagined.

What steps can you take to remedy the situation?

1. Self care is very important. Take care of your health like never before. You had a routine that was based on your job and that is now gone. Sit down and come up with a new routine. Incorporate physical exercise into that routine. Think of activities that will keep you sharp and productively engaged, even if that will mean volunteering.

The key is to keep learning, remain sharp and take care of your self-esteem. The activities that keep you busy could open doors in future so plan for them well. A good example is keeping oneself busy through writing. That can eventually be transformed into a stream of income.

2. Be quick to learn how to manage stress. Being jobless is stressful so stress management skills are critical for your sanity. Practice visualization, meditation, yoga and any other strategy that will help you reduce stress. Make a conscious decision to saturate your mind with positive thoughts. Cut out your intake of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and junk foods. Ensure that you get adequate rest and sleep every day no matter how tough the going gets.

3. Motivate yourself to take the steps that help to relieve stress and improve your mood. If jogging is part of your stress coping mechanisms, look for ways to motivate yourself to do it every day. You might need to look for a jogging partner even if the person is far away from you. Hold each other accountable and compare notes. Give yourself small rewards for doing what needs to be done whether you feel like doing it or not.

4. Take steps to improve your relationships. For example if you are a married man and your wife is in employment, be more supportive of her than you have ever been. Help her with chores, share great ideas with her, assist with the kids and everything that can make the bond between the two of you stronger.

Remember that your lost income is likely to strain your relationship so bring loved ones including children closer to you. Be creative in coming up with fun activities for the family. It does not necessarily cost money to have fun. You will need the support of every member of the family so make it easy for them to support you.

5. Be open minded about earning income. It is ok to aggressively send out job applications, but don’t put all your hope there since you have no control over how long it can take to land another job. Spend time doing your research to identify opportunities for jobs that suit your skills and expertise.

Identify lines of work that could suit you. Find out what skills are required and if you are lacking some of them, get busy acquiring them. Self education does not cost much. For example if you identify writing as a possible line of work, get busy practicing how to write and improving your skills.

Allocate a specific period of time into your daily routines for these activities that prepare you for future work. When it comes to seeking ways to replace lost income, don’t restrict yourself to the small area you call your profession. Doors might open outside your field of work so make deliberate effort to prepare to take advantage of such opportunities.

6. Networks are critical for finding opportunities so do not seclude yourself. Yes, it feels embarrassing to be jobless and the most natural thing to do is to avoid people. That actually works against you. Get busy where you will get noticed and give people value. Begin immediately you lose your job, before your life takes a turn for the worse and you lose your self-confidence.

Take advantage of every opportunity to volunteer whether it is at church, your children’s school or in the neighborhood. Just make sure that you are in the face of as many people as possible. If there ever was a time to do good, this is it.

Step up and assist your neighbor who needs help jump starting his car, volunteer to serve at an event at church, offer to drop a package at the bus company for your brother-in-law on your way to town and whatever else will make people remember you in a positive light. Avoid burning bridges; you need all the help you can get. It is also a great way to keep feeling good about yourself.

7. Social media is very important for networking so join the right online communities and ensure to get noticed. Brand yourself professionally on social media. Change the details about where you work immediately. The way you brand yourself should be able to open doors. It might be prestigious to leave the details about the place you used to work before you lost your job but that will only keep opportunities from you.

Make sure that you clearly indicate that as your past job; it should appear current otherwise no one will know that you are open for opportunities.

Get involved in the right online conversations and also post content regularly. You need to attract people to yourself so put your best foot forward and give people value; become an attractive person. Allocate time in your daily schedules for being on social media. Let the world know that you exist and also what you are good at.

8. Reach out and make new friends. Join a club, a fellowship, a network marketing company or enroll for a class that will not eat too much into your savings. Be more alert to people around you; on public transport, at the bus stop, in the supermarket and everywhere. Learn to initiate conversations with strangers and add to your networks daily. You have no way of knowing who will open doors for you so focus on growing your networks.

Are you struggling to find your way after job loss and could benefit from coaching? Book a free session here.

This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter, Life Coach, Mentor, Motivational Speaker, Freelancer and Blogger.

Financial Independence Africa

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