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When James Gallacher was made redundant, he learnt some important lessons about the value of self-care. Living with cystic fibrosis means James is conscious of looking after his health and general well-being. When it comes to the challenges of redundancy, he has some advice on how to prioritise your self-care while navigating the obstacles and opportunities of redundancy.  

Redundancy must result in self-care. It didn’t for me, a way back, but now I have better awareness, lived experiences and resources. 

When recently working with somebody in executive transition/coaching, it had me reflecting on the traumatising time when I was made redundant. This amazing person shared some dark feelings of anger, guilt, lack of self-worth, frustration, uncertainty and so on, similar to what I once felt.   

Over six years ago, I was made redundant from the workplace I gave my all to and grew up in. This had a massive impact on me, that took me a long time to get over physically and mentally. Everything was going great in my career and home life. I was acting in senior roles, leading, learning and really kicking career goals. I was (and still am) a proud father, watching our kids flourish. We were also at the start of our lifetime renovation dreams becoming realities in our family home.  

Well, then my career life collapsed and so did I. I had a painful and powerful bout of vertigo that seemed to last for many months. I still find it hard to recollect memories around those difficult months. I was unable to engage in meaningful discussions and decisions about our home reno and I was feeling pretty low and languishing for some time. 

Grief is a natural response to loss

There are lots of different and perfectly normal expressions of grief and loss that appear when we are experiencing outcomes that are unexpected or unusual. Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something you are attached to is taken away. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to loss, and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be. 

These may be some of the current questions floating around your head if you have recently been let off work.  

  • What should you do when you find yourself struggling with motivation and focus? 
  • How much time should you spend on your job search activity? 
  • You feel as though you need to stop becoming obsessive about your search but how do I let go? 
  • How will the process impact on your mental health and general well-being? 
  • How should you structure your job search activity on a daily, weekly and even monthly basis? 

The job search process may test us in ways that we probably haven’t experienced before. For some, this may be the first time that they have been out of work and for others, the length of time and the continual knock backs are wearing thin.   

As we go through the process, we need to stay focused on the here and now and be less concerned about what might occur down the track. The decisions that you make now will impact on that outcome, so you must focus on making good quality and relevant decisions. 

Self-care tips for the job search

Have a think about self-care and what you can do if you are struggling with your mental health. Good self-care plans protect us from risk and help us to put in place known interventions that we can employ if the process is having a negative impact. Here are some things to think about or do as you move through the job search process: 

  • Do a couple of things each day that you have been procrastinating about. Create balance in this period and use it to get things done. 
  • Eat, exercise and sleep well. 
  • Be grateful for what you’ve already achieved and remind yourself constantly of the great things and people in your life. 
  • Never make assumptions. Most of the time what we think, or fear is not justified in reality—we can convince ourselves of anything if we try! Focus on the facts only. 
  • Learn, read and listen every day. 
  • Turn negative thoughts into positive ones. When a negative thought enters your mind, reframe your focus to how that thought has helped you. Every thought has a constructive viewpoint. Optimists are able to turn things around and attract more positivity. 
  • Seek guidance. Take action. Don’t just sit there, make it happen. 
  • Write down what you want. Most people focus more on what they don’t want than what they do want. The more you focus on what you don’t want, the more of that is exactly what you will get. 
  • Remind yourself that your current situation is fine for now but in the meantime, you will work on achieving your ultimate dreams. Learning to be content right now is the key, always remembering that you are destined for better things. 
  • Surround yourself with positive people. 
  • Do nice things for other people. It helps you feel good about yourself, and makes you feel positive. Good karma will come back around! 
  • Instead of focusing on your problems, find a solution. If there doesn’t seem to be one right now, keep looking until there is. 

Self-care can be understood in many different ways. In its simplest form, the term refers to our ability as human beings to function effectively in the world while meeting the multiple challenges of daily life with a sense of energy, vitality, and confidence. Self-care is initiated and maintained by us as individuals and requires our active engagement.  

In order to be effective, you must take responsibility for self-care, recognising that it’s a critical component of performing well when you need to.  

Don’t hesitate to get professional help if you get to a point where you are not coping. 

This article was previously published on LinkedIn.  

Read more from James on the value of vulnerabilities. Hear from Lauren about living and working overseas. Read more about how to prepare for job interviews.


If you would like to share your story, please contact us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you and so would our readers. 

This story was published in September, 2021.