Losing one's employment is one of the most stressful experiences in life, whether due to downsizing, forced early retirement or any other seemingly genuine reason. Besides financial stress, losing a job can impact one's mood, mental health, and relationships.
Our jobs often influence us in different ways beyond just being a source of income. It provides a social outlet, where we meet other people and find some purpose and meaning in our lives. When the job is gone, we may suddenly start feeling hurt and depressed, even lost and unsure about the future.
Depending on what led to the unemployment, we may start having low self-esteem, feel betrayed or powerless on the next thing to do with our lives. It can get overwhelming, and before you know it, you are spiraling down the bleak abyss of gloom. But no matter what the situation is right now, there is hope.
Here are a few useful tips for dealing with unemployment:
Give Yourself Time to Adjust
Adjusting to unemployment can take time, especially when you're still grieving. Don't bottle up your feelings; allow yourself to go through them and feel everything. Grieve in healthy ways. Bingeing on junk foods and drinking too much will do more harm than good.
Acknowledging and writing about your feelings is a better way to deal with the loss. Express what you feel about being unemployed. This will also help you to prepare for other losses creeping in areas like control over your life, your professional identity, self-esteem, purpose, self-confidence, and friendships.
Don't Beat Yourself Up
While it's vital to acknowledge your unemployment plight, it's also imperative to not beat yourself up over it. The earlier you accept the situation and stop criticizing yourself, the better and the sooner you can move onto the next phase in your life.
It is easy to start blaming and putting yourself down for whatever reason it is behind your unemployment. But it will not do you any good because you need your self-esteem to remain as you search for a new job. See the job loss as a temporary setback and use the chance to reflect on what you want out of life.
Network for New Employment
When we lose our jobs, our natural reaction is to first withdraw from friends and family out of shame or embarrassment. Most of us even lose the friendships that were born out of the workplace. But social contact is critical, and it's never too late to expand our network outside of work.
Social contact can help us deal with unemployment stress as well as securing a new job. Networking may sound intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Meet new people by joining a job search club where you meet other job seekers and find mutual encouragement.
Open Up to Your Family
Don't try to keep your job loss a secret and shoulder your problems alone. It will only worsen the situation, especially if it takes you longer than you envisaged to land a new job. Unemployment affects the whole family, and your family's support can help you thrive in a difficult time like this.
Even if you take pride in being independent and self-sufficient, open up to your family. You need to lean on the people who care about you to better cope with the stress of job loss. Your family members care about you and your stability. They may also help with your finances and offer helpful suggestions regarding your employment search.
Try a New Hobby
Find new ways to define yourself. For many of us, our work defines who we are. Hence, when we lose our jobs, we feel a loss of self. But it's important to remember that your identity is not defined by a job or a company's decision to take it from you. Pursue other new activities that bring meaning and purpose to your life.
New meaningful hobbies help you reaffirm that you are not your employment status. Try a new hobby that excites you or pick up a long-forsaken hobby. Now is the time to pick up that art brush again, take a photography class, start a blog or learn a new language. Money may be tight at this period, so pick inexpensive activities.
Doing good feels good. Supporting a cause is an excellent way to maintain a sense of meaning and purpose in your life. Volunteering lifts your spirits and keeps your self-esteem high.
Volunteering can also provide networking opportunities and career experiences and is a great way to have social support, meet new people, and get more business exposure. It also gives you something to say in case people ask you what you have been doing.
Exercise, Eat Well and Take Care of Yourself
If work has always prevented you from exercising, now is the time to get back in shape. Keep moving to relieve stress—exercise for 30 minutes or more daily. Exercise releases powerful endorphins that improve your mood.
Be wary of your diet too. This may be the last thing on your mind but note that what you put in your body can affect your levels of energy and positivity. Minimize sugar and sugary snacks. Avoid nicotine and drink alcohol in moderation.
The stress of unemployment can make you more prone to mental health problems. Therefore, it's essential to take care of yourself. Maintain balance in your life. Don't let your job search consume you. Make time for fun and get plenty of sleep.
When you don't have a job to go to daily, motivation can quickly dwindle. Treat your job search like a job. Follow a set schedule to make you more productive. If you're not having luck, take time out to rethink your goals.
Also, to stay positive, make a list of all the things you like about yourself. Write down your personality traits, skills, accomplishments, and successes. Revisit this list often to remind yourself of your strengths.
Focus on what you can control. You can't control how quickly a potential employer decides to hire you or not. Rather than worrying about this, focus on boosting your skills set and networking to build new contacts.