How to Deal With the Psychological Stress of Unemployment
If you’ve lost your job, you’re probably dealing with a number of emotions, the mixture of which is hard to contend with. You’re suffering from the loss of your professional identity, your daily routine has been upended and you might be struggling with a lack of self-esteem. When you add to this a loss of financial security, it is understandable that you’d feel stressed, anxious, or even depressed. However, you’re not alone and there are ways you can maintain control of your professional life. Proactively take steps towards a clearer mind and, hopefully, a promising new career with these important tips.
REMEMBER: YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED ABOUT
Society places a lot of pressure on us to get a good job, to perform well and to be a success. As a result, when we’re out of work, many of us feel embarrassed. We become insular. We might even refuse to leave our homes for fear that we might have to answer questions about our employment status, how our job search is going or if we have anything in the pipeline. These questions can be difficult to answer, particularly if there is nothing on the horizon, or you’re dealing with a depression that makes just getting up in the morning feel like a challenge.
As hard as it might be, try to set these unwarranted feelings of shame aside. You’re likely doing all you can and that is enough for now. Whether you’re taking time off from work to recover emotionally and mentally, or you’re between jobs and actively searching for your next opportunity, you are taking control. You have things in hand; let this give you a sense of pride. Don’t feel the need to hide away because you think you’re not where you should be. After all, there are many people out there just like you and issues relating to unemployment need to be normalised, not hidden away.
PRIORITISE YOUR HEALTH AND WELLBEING
When you’re down and anxious, you might feel disinclined to look after yourself. This is understandable, but it is the beginning of a vicious cycle. The more you let your wellbeing slide, the worse you feel about yourself, which leads to a further drop in energy or inclination to improve your health and happiness. Hard as it might seem at first, be proactive and take charge of what you can actually control: yourself and your body.
There is a huge link between mental health and diet, so be sure to carefully plan your meals. Steer clear of processed food, regardless of how cheap it may seem. Processed food might appear inexpensive, but you pay for it in terms of physical health and lack of mental clarity. According to one source, people who report mental health problems eat fewer healthy foods (such as fruits, vegetables, and homemade meals) and more unhealthy food (chocolate, ready meals, and crisps). Mental health is not a clear-cut issue, but you can certainly take measures to make your life better.
Be sure to also get plenty of sleep and exercise well. Regular exercise releases feel-good endorphins, which helps to relieve stress. Not to mention, when you exercise and you see and feel the results, you feel better about yourself. This added confidence will inevitably help when it comes to the job application process.
LEARN HOW TO WRITE A CV
Along with how to pay bills, how to get a mortgage and the intricacies of personal finance, CVs are something we aren’t usually taught at school. We are expected to research and learn about this incredibly important aspect of recruitment and selection on our own. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time and, as such, many of us simply don’t know how to write an effective and visually appealing CV. If this is an area you struggle with, now is the perfect time to address it.
There are a number of resources online detailing what makes for a great CV, but the golden rule is to be succinct. Recruiters are busy people; tell them what they need to know in as few words as possible. Keep the whole document to a maximum of two pages. Explain what you achieved in your previous roles, rather than simply what you did. Bullet-point your skills and steer clear of clichéd terms. Most importantly, get someone to proofread your CV to ensure there are no typos. A strong CV will go a long way to improving your chances of future employment.
TAKE MEASURED, CALCULATED STEPS TOWARD EMPLOYMENT
At first, the prospect of a job search might feel daunting. If this is the case, be sure to take small, measured steps towards re-employment. Doing everything at once might be intimidating and you won’t make the progress you’d like.
When you take your first steps, remember that the internet is a great resource. There are a wealth of career advice articles out there and some great interview tips to help you develop the confidence you need for the next stage. Once you take the pressure off yourself and you begin to actively attack the job search process, you’ll get gradually more excited about your prospects and potential.
DON’T APPLY TO EVERY JOB UNDER THE SUN
Just because a job looks decent and it’s up for grabs, this doesn’t mean you should be applying. Take this time to be selective, make a career plan and decide what you really want out of a job. When it comes to the professional world, there are 16 personality types, all of which are very different. What appeals to one person will be a nightmare for another. You can’t put a highly creative person in an incredibly analytical job and expect them to thrive. Equally, introverts will likely dread the daily work of a party planner.
Don’t let pressure force you into an unwise decision. If you aren’t right for the job and the job isn’t right for you, you run the risk of either being let go or quitting out of disengagement and stress, placing you right back at the same position. Don’t put yourself through that. You owe it to yourself to calmly assess your options and apply for the opportunities that are a real match for you, your passions and your strengths.
Author Bio – Kaz Osman the founder and director of Career Ninja UK — a career hub that offers interview tips, career advice, and a free career personality test to help you on the way to find your calling.