3 Tips for Dealing with Unemployment Stress

“Unfortunately, we will have to let you go…”

It was a Friday afternoon when in the aftermath of this devastating sentence, I packed up my things.

For months afterwards, I replayed my co-workers long faces, their barely concealed shock, and their naked relief that it hadn’t been them.

As this period grew longer and longer though, I was attacked by fear of the unknown, confused, unmotivated and sort of damaged. It was later that I came to terms with it. I became convinced that this was the best thing that ever happened to me – and it was! Because it opened a lot of doors inside of me that never knew it was there.

Unemployment is one of the many challenges that people face in the course of their careers.

The hardest thing about unemployment is not the lack of a job, but the self-doubt, the depression that creeps in, as job applications are rejected, over and over.

As someone who faced these rejections time and time again, I can tell you that it does get easier, and that it is possible to stay positive in the face of the storm. Here’s how –

1. Be Grateful

I know, I know. Easier said than done, but this is the most important of all. We have a tendency to blame ourselves for things outside our control, and nowhere is it truer than in the case of sudden job loss.

“It’s all my fault” or “I deserved it” are negative thoughts that can make your day spiral downwards instantly. Don’t indulge in them! Keep a check on negative self-talk – know that you deserve that dream job you’ve always desired. This is only a temporary setback on your way to the career you’ve always sought.

Gratitude can help direct the negative attitude into a more positive direction.

One of the methods I used was to list two positive things for every negative thought that came to me. This tactic halted the black moods immediately, and showed me that in spite of everything, I still had things to be grateful for.

Another habit to encourage grateful thinking is to list down five things you’re thankful for, that day. I did it just before bed, but this can be done at any time during the day.

2. Have a Purpose

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” – Viktor Frankl’s famous book ‘Man’s Search for meaning’ makes a valid point. During unemployment, it can feel like there’s no point of getting out of bed, or of sending out resumes for the umpteenth time.

In truth, this approach will depress you – as it did me.

Keeping to a schedule – one that allows for fulfilling, purposeful activities is the best way to get through this time.

Is there a hobby you’ve been meaning to try your hand at?

Or an event you’ve wanted to go to? Now is the time to give it a go!

During my sabbatical, I got back to my true passion – writing. I wrote every day, without fail. I wrote articles, blog posts, short stories, poetry – anything that brought me comfort. Not only did it get me back in touch with my passion, it made me better at it to some extent – and the joy it brought into my day was unparalleled, as I continue to be expectant for a better job.

3. Get Outside!

Staying at home, day after day, is depressing. One of the things that worked for me was making myself go outside. I would head out for a walk, listen to some music in the park or simply grab a cup of coffee at the nearby cafe.

This helped me see there was a world beyond the confines of my home – which eased the sense of isolation and loneliness I often felt.

One other thing that worked wonders for me? Catching up with friends. Work can make us so busy, we often get out of touch with old pals, and this can be the best time to reconnect.

I agree that it can be tough. Listening to friends talk about their work – that really exciting deal they just cracked, or the project that they are currently working on, can be hard. In fact, it can feel like they are being deliberately cruel.

They’re not. Friends and Family are crucial at a time like this – when we are most vulnerable, and it feels like the dark times will never end. Give your friends a chance to rally around you, to support you in this difficult time. If discussions about work bother you, explain your point of view – more often than not, good friends will tone them down, or avoid speaking of it altogether.

However, if it is really difficult to be around old friends – make new ones! This can be as easy as volunteering for a cause you care about or joining a hobby class – there are new and interesting people to meet all around us!

Final Thoughts

In my first days of this break, I was overwhelmed. I was frantic in my job search and networking, but I was holed up at home, and the depression came at me in waves.

No one told me that health needs to be a priority at this time – physical AND mental.

It is really important to rediscover yourself in this time. You are not your job, or the organization that you work for. You are so much more than that!

So while I did take on my job search daily – it did not take up my entire day.

These tips helped me make myself productive and happy. Try them out, they might just help you too.

I was truly inspired by Shuyaasha Misra in posting this true experience of my life early 2016.

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