There is often something unceremonious about leaving a job. You may have a goodbye party when you quit or a bouquet of flowers delivered to your office when you have been laid off, but often, we’re expected to just move on from a role that may have defined us and provided a sense of stability or community. Whether it’s on your terms or not, leaving a job can be earth-shattering for some people. Research shows that expressive writing can benefit your mental health when it comes to any type of life transition which includes a change in job, role, ability, or even lifestyle. Here are 5 ways it’s therapeutic to write about it:
1. Releases tension
Writing can act as an outlet for things that are hard to say aloud, and in turn, reduce anxiety. The act of externalizing your thoughts and feelings can help channel that excess energy that is pent up.
2. Reflect on the meaning and significance of the loss or change
Therapeutic writing facilitates the meaning-making process and provides closure. For example, when you realize that your job loss helped you connect to others who experienced the same challenge, then your suffering isn’t totally in vain. Writing provides space to introspect which is a rare occurrence in our plugged-in hustle culture.
3. Gain a different perspective
As the ideas and feelings are “out in the world” you can understand your loss differently and gain clarity. Through this perspective-taking, you can also create a timeline when you date your journal logs, which is helpful for taking stock of how things developed, or which triggers or symptoms arose at various seasons or life stages.
4. Acknowledge and accept what has happened
We need to first acknowledge the loss before processing it and writing can be a safe way to begin that transition.
5. Develop better communication skills
By writing, we can figure out how to express ourselves in different ways. It consolidates information differently than verbal communication. You may need to vent and write everything down without censorship and then write 4 more versions until it’s ready to be expressed to another person.
QUESTION PROMPTS FOR JOURNALING
Examine your job loss from different angles. Set an alarm for 5 minutes for each prompt. Be curious about what comes up.
What do I currently do to:
- Find forgiveness (for myself or others)?
- Shine my light in the world?
- Help me feel strong?
- Feel and release pain?
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
- Expressive Writing for Healing by Mary Potter Kenyon
By Laura Cohen, a Career Counsellor at Canada Career Counselling Halifax location. Laura has completed an MA in Counselling Psychology from McGill University. She is experienced working with clients in numerous industries including finance, the military, business and education, the non-profit and arts sector, IT and healthcare. Email our office at [email protected] to schedule a 15-minute complimentary consultation. You may be able to use your insurance plan or extended health benefits to cover counselling and assessment fees.