Over 75,000 employees at 268 tech companies have been laid off as of the end of April according to layoffs.fyi including big names like Paypal, Salesforce, Microsoft, eBay, TikTok, Wayfair, and Google. While it’s easy to focus on the hardships this group is facing, we often forget the impact on the people that are still employed.

Many years ago, I remember sitting at my desk at Yahoo! in Sunnyvale, CA, looking out the window as there were lines of people carrying boxes of all of their things, waiting to get on the shuttle buses to their homes. Reporters were taking photos and interviewing my former colleagues, and I sat there with a tight knot in my stomach thinking, “Am I going to be next?”

Layoff survivors experience a wide range of challenges that affect their mental health and their performance that is often not considered by leadership teams making these decisions. After laying off 17% of their employees last December, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said four months later, “Although there’s no question that it was the right strategic decision, it did disrupt our day-to-day operations more than we anticipated.” While he didn’t go into details on this disruption, the impact to the team left holding the bag is no small matter.

Impact on the Team

Layoff Anxiety. While people speak of the “cut once, cut deep” approach, we often see multiple rounds of layoffs executed over a long painful period during which you can’t help but wonder if you’ll be next on the chopping block. This fear can be incredibly distracting, as you worry about your finances, your ability to support your family, and you might even have issues sleeping. Your nervous system can go into fight of flight mode. This is your stress response and when this happens, you are not your best self. Your decision making is impaired, interactions with colleagues might not be as harmonious, and it’s a bad place to be. If you’re a person of color, the fear that you might be next has data to support it, as research from both 2021 and 2022 showed that underrepresented communities were disproportionately impacted. Moreover, the “last in, first out” approach doesn’t bode well for Black employees who were hired in response to the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.

Increase in Workload. Typically the reduction in staff size is not accompanied by a reduction in workload. So the company is left with the same amount of work and less people to do it. That means that if you survived the layoffs, you now have to take on the work of those that have been let go. The leadership team still wants to meet their targets, the pressure is still on, and fear of being next causes you to work more. Stress is real. Burnout is real. And you, while happy to be employed, are at a significantly higher risk of burnout as a result.

Decline in Productivity. A study of over 4,000 employees who survived a round of corporate layoffs by Leadership IQ found that 74% of layoffs survivors reported a decline in their productivity. Anxiety around possibly losing your job, coupled with an increase in workload, can result in your performance not being what you or your management team wants it to be. If you demonstrate poor performance, you then increase the likelihood of getting laid off next, and this is a vicious cycle.

Survivor’s Guilt. You spend a lot of your time at work and build strong relationships with your colleagues. You might have friends that got laid off. You might feel bad about what they are going through, and feel guilty that you got to keep your job and they didn’t. You might feel sad about their situation, angry at those that made the decision, and wonder, “Why not me?” These feelings can be confusing, because of course you’re happy you didn’t get cut, but it doesn’t feel good either.

If you are a layoffs survivor, it’s important to check in and ask yourself which of the above you might be experiencing. How is your mental health? If you have experienced any of the above, be proactive about taking care of yourself.

5 Ways to Support Your Mental Health

#1: Breathe Through the Anxiety

If you’re worried about your job security, anxiety levels can go through the roof, so much so it might keep you up at night and affect your sleep. 4-7-8 Breathing is a simple practice you can do to calm your nervous system. Breathe in and out through the nose, inhale for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale for a count of eight. Repeat this for two minutes and experience immediate relief! You can even do this while lying in bed if you’re having trouble falling asleep! Check out a guided video of this practice here.

#2: Separate Fact from Fiction.

We often tell ourselves stories that just aren’t true. You might be stuck on this idea that you’ll be next. So take the time to write down all of the facts that suggest the opposite. What are all the reasons you won’t be next! Document all of your previous wins. What did your last performance reviews say? How critical is your role? What are your strengths? What do you bring to the table? Write it all down. Once you’re done, read it back to yourself. Sit and reflect on what you’ve written. When you experience thoughts of worry or doubt again, take out this list and re-read it. The facts might offer you just the comfort that you need. This Imposter Syndrome Toolkit might also be a helpful guide.

#3: Focus on What You Can Control.

What practical steps can you take that might give you peace of mind? Set aside time to do these things. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Begin to re-engage your network, contact old colleagues, start having coffees, going to networking events. It might make you feel better to make a backup plan. If you were to get laid off, what are the next steps you would take? Walk through your plan in detail. Anticipate how you’d deal with obstacles such as your finances, health care, and finding a new job.

#4: Remember Your Resilience.

This isn’t the first time you’ve faced a challenging moment. We’ve all had them. Think about a time when you faced disappointment or hardship. What happened? What strengths allowed you to overcome it? What doors opened after?

#5: Double Down on Self-Care.

Now is the time to double down on your self-care. I invite you to make a list of how you might finish this sentence: “I feel restored when…” What are all the things that help you to feel rejuvenated? For me, it’s taking long baths, getting massages, going for runs outside, sitting in the sunshine. What about you? Make your list. Commit to doing one thing on that list every week. Bonus points if you can do one thing every single day!

Zee Clarke is the author of the book, Black People Breathe (Penguin Random House). She has been featured in many leading publications including ABC, Fortune, Forbes, CNBC, Ebony, Essence, and Fast Company.

She is a Harvard Business School graduate who applies holistic healing practices to corporate environments. Zee leads transformative workshops on mindfulness, breathwork and stress management tools at organizations such as Google, Visa, AMC Networks and more.

Want to experience instant stress relief for yourself? Subscribe to Zee’s newsletter and access a Breathing Practice for Instant Stress Relief.