Four Tips for Surviving a Layoff

My career had always been a huge part of my identity, from being a physician for 20 years and then a physician executive for 10 years. The transition to the business side of healthcare had been challenging but never boring, and I loved my role leading doctors. However, the stress and long hours were often exhausting, and I developed migraines, neck pain, reflux disease and occasional crying bouts. Then the COVID pandemic hit health care and my hours became longer as the lines between work and home blurred. One of the silver linings was that I could now work remotely and not travel half of the month. Therefore, my husband and I decided to finally buy a small beach cottage as a second vacation home in April 2022. Unfortunately, just 4 months later when we were most stretched financially, I was laid off without warning. Our world had turned upside down!

My first few weeks after the event, I wandered like a zombie around the house, glancing at my iPhone for the dozens of texts, chats and emails I used to receive constantly. After a few flurry of sympathy messages from coworkers and friends for a week or two, it was silent. I decided this was a good time to look at myself and my life and make changes. I had a generous severance package from my employer, so I had a year to find my next career move. I decided with the help of my career coach to take a 3 month break and then start looking for what was out there. After reading many books and websites, I took four steps to finally improve the life I was living.

Prioritizing Exercise

I always was fairly active, walking my dog several times a day, but I never had any targets or goals. This time, I aligned my exercise with my best friend whom I scheduled three beach walks for an hour three times a week, and my husband who I would lift weights with for 45 minutes three times a week. I also threw in occasional yoga as well! Joining the local gym was the first thing I did on Day #1 after the layoff. I knew that the standard recommendation to lose weight was 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week (something I spouted off to patients regularly!) but I had never practiced it. Now I have followed this routine for the past 6 months and have dropped two dress sizes, plus I see muscle tone now. My headaches, neck pain and reflux also resolved- but that may be due to no job stress as well…

Healthy Mediterranean-type Diet

Less eating out, from 4 to 2 times a week, more seafood and less meat (an easy change at the beach), and I quit baking desserts like cake and cookies. My biggest weakness is still red wine, but I figure it is good for the heart! Otherwise we only drink water or unsweetened tea/coffee.

More Quality Sleep

National recommendations are for 8 hours a day. I used to get 6-7 hours when I worked, but it was often restless with lots of early AM awakening with anxiety. Now I am in bed very early by 9:30 and often have a “power nap” at 3 pm. After years of taking call as a doctor and grabbing sleep in small amounts, I have an uncanny ability to close my eyes and nap anywhere and anytime. I also wake up on my own after 20-30 minutes feeling refreshed. My husband envies me this “super power!”

Tiny Environmental Footprint

My biggest change was that we decided to move permanently to the tiny 448 square foot beach cottage full-time. We de-cluttered and donated a majority of our 30 years of stuff and downsized significantly. Our power bill is now $50 a month, we recycle half of our garbage and are starting to compost as well. We also spend less on clothes and house junk because we just do not have room for it. My husband and I feel much lighter and life is simpler in our “448 life”. I often think that being laid off was one of the best things to happen to us!

More to come…

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