Losing your job is almost never an easy or fun experience. Whether you’re laid off, fired, or decide to leave by choice before getting another job, unemployment is full of uncertainty. You might doubt your skills and abilities and worry about how you’re going to make ends meet.
All of this takes its toll. There’s a real psychological impact of unemployment that often goes unacknowledged, which can make you feel isolated.
Here’s what unemployment can do to your mental health – and what you can do about it.
Unemployment causes stress which affects your overall health
Being unemployed when you don’t want to be is stressful. Of the 8 main types of unemployment, only a few, like seasonal unemployment, are something people can plan for. Other types of unemployment frequently spike stress and anxiety over a lack of income and benefits.
Stress can make existing mental health problems worse. It can also weaken your immune system and lead to issues like trouble sleeping, mood swings,
Depression and anxiety after unemployment
One study, which looked at stress in 300 men, found that people who became unemployed during the study were much more likely to suffer from issues like depression, anxiety, and medical issues or illness. Some men in the study struggled with self-esteem, while those who had support from friends and family had higher levels of self-esteem.
This study helps confirm what anyone who has been unemployed knows: it’s a challenging time in a person’s life. Maintaining mental health during a grueling job search is a difficult, exhausting task. It’s important to find ways to cope so you can continue to find the motivation you need.
Take care of yourself
When you’re looking for a job, it can be hard to stay motivated. Stress can make it difficult to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and spend time relaxing. Many people feel guilty whenever they’re doing something other than looking for work. This isn’t healthy!
Taking time for yourself is important. Getting regular physical activity, focusing on sleep and a healthy diet, and using mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, can help you keep your spirits up and motivate you to find the right job.
Lean on friends and family
Some people feel ashamed or embarrassed when they lose their job. However, hiding yourself away from those you love won’t help your well-being while you look for a job. Isolating yourself will only increase your stress and anxiety and might have an impact on your self-esteem during the job-hunting process.
In some cases, unemployment can be a good opportunity to consider a career change. If you’re feeling burned out or you are concerned about the outlook and salary of your current career, it can be worth thinking about training for a new career. There are lots of high-demand, well-compensated careers to choose from, including becoming an engineer, data specialist, nurse practitioner, and more.
Remember: employers will respond positively to confidence and ease
It’s important to take care of your mental and physical health when you’re unemployed because you deserve to feel good and stay healthy. But beyond that, you might find that boosting your mood helps you land that perfect job.
Employers will respond well to enthusiasm, confidence, and ease. If you can keep your spirits up and remind yourself of the value you bring to an organisation, then you’re likely to project that in an interview situation. Sometimes, that can make all the difference in a job search.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.