New Study Provides Insights On Bouncing Back From Job Loss

Stress associated with job loss can have a host of negative effects on individuals that may hinder their ability to become re-employed. A new study shows that self-regulation of your emotions is an important quality for finding re-employment.

Robin and Lisa lost their jobs due to pandemic layoffs. Robin believed no employer would hire her at her age. She became angry, cynical, and defeated. Her hopelessness blunted her motivation, and she halfheartedly conducted a job search. Lisa believed, regardless of her age, she had a lot to offer an employer who can benefit from her skills. She quickly accepted being unemployed, eagerly launched a job hunt, and hooked two interviews within one week. Lisa didn’t let stress get the upper hand. She outsmarted it with her beliefs. and Lisa isn’t alone. Duke university researchers reported a 2011 study showing that people who adopt an optimistic outlook are more likely to be quickly hired.

Job Loss And Stress-Related Illness

The worries that come with the current trend of Coronavirus job layoffs, shrinking financial resources and a questionable job future are raising stress levels across this country. Questions such as how you’re going to find a decent-paying job, will you lose your house, how will you get the kids through college or will you ever be able to retire can make you sick.

Studies show that for some of the unemployed, like Robin, job loss can lower the immune system, making you more vulnerable to viruses such as COVID-19. Workers living with unemployment and underemployment are five times more likely to catch colds than workers without job threats. Job insecurities can make you more vulnerable to diseases and worsen existing chronic ailments such as heart disease, diabetes or depression. And a study by Yale researchers, published in the journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, found that older adults (50 years of age or older) who lose their jobs fare worse than the younger unemployed. They have more depression, and their risk of heart attack and stroke more than doubles compared to employees who do not lose their jobs.

The Importance Of Self-Regulation

A new study published in the Journal of Employment Counseling examined the importance of self-regulation for enabling people to effectively search for a new job and to maintain their psychological well-being. Self-regulation allows unemployed workers to manage their emotions and behaviors in a way that produces positive results and to consider adversity as a positive challenge rather than a hindrance.

The study involved an online survey completed by 185 individuals who had recently been laid off and had not yet been re-employed. High levels of self-regulation predicted better well-being, job search clarity and job search self-efficacy—the belief that you can successfully perform specific job search behaviors and obtain employment.

The findings suggest that employment counseling efforts should help people improve their self-regulation in order to achieve positive outcomes after job loss. According to lead researcher, Dr. Matthew McLarnon, “Together, results of this study suggest that the components of self-regulation are key to a comprehensive model of resiliency, which plays a crucial role in enhancing well-being and re-employment outcomes during individuals’ search for employment.”

Self-regulation and a positive perspective reduce stress and cultivate peace of mind. That allows job seekers to manage what they can, let the rest go, and eliminate stressors that interfere with re-employment.


McLarnon, M., Rothstein, M.G., & King, G.A. (2020). Resiliency, self-regulation, and reemployment after job loss. Journal of Employment Counseling, 57 (3), 115-129.

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