For those experiencing bouts of unemployment, investing adequate time and attention to mental health care often falls last on the to-do list, but making it a priority can be extremely beneficial. It’s important to address the situation you’re facing and the emotional toll that can come with it. Feelings of shock and disbelief at being laid off or fired can turn into active distress and fatalistic tendencies, resulting in a loss of identity and feelings of frustration, anxiety, depression, and even hopelessness.
To help set some boundaries for maintaining positive mental health during this difficult period, we’ve come up with a few tips:
- Don’t isolate yourself: It’s common for people to feel a sense of shame about having lost a job, which can cause some people to isolate themselves from well meaning friends and family. It can be difficult to talk about it, as it may bring up feelings of distress or anxiety, but opening up to supportive friends or loved ones, even if it’s just a few can make a big difference. Socializing is not only good for your spirits, but meeting new people and increasing your network of professional contracts can be good for expanding your job opportunities.
- Follow a regular routine: Staying in bed, not eating regular meals, and shying away from regular responsibilities will only increase your sense of distress and will markedly separate your pre and post-job loss lifestyle. Instead, get up at the same time each day, devote yourself to eating healthier and making time for exercise each day. Feeling good about yourself and focusing on bettering your physical and mental health can help you to feel more in control of your life.
- Set parameters around job searching: Job searching is stressful and it can easily take over your life. Without a job, you may feel constant pressure to find one, which can mean countless revisions of your resume or cover letter, or obsessively checking your email for job alerts. This panicked mode of operating is doing you no favors. It’s important to set aside a certain amount of time dedicated specifically to looking for a job each day, but remember that you still deserve a chance to rest, relax, and have fun. Not having a job doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy as an individual.
- Make time for physical fitness: Working out can relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression and can help motivate you to socialize with others at the gym or at an aerobics class.
- Volunteer: If you’re feeling stuck or isolated, consider devoting a certain number of hours each week to volunteering. Do you have a hobby that you’re devoted to? Or a cause you’ve always been supportive of? See if you can get involved. It could lead to an increased number of professional relationships, it can be a positive addition to your resume, and could possibly even result in a job opportunity.
Keep in mind that you have personal value outside of your career and your employment status. Dedicating time to your own health and well-being can help you to feel deserving of a new opportunity, and can get you on the right path to a new job.