If you are experiencing job loss, you may already know the psychological impacts of this experience. Our jobs not only provide a means to meet our financial needs, but also give us a routine and structure, a sense of security, purpose and accomplishment, connection to peers, and a belief in our ability to handle what comes our way. When we lose our job, we’re at risk of temporarily losing many of these traits too. In addition to the stress caused by job loss, people who have become unexpectedly unemployed are at greater risk for mental health issues like depression or anxiety and suicide.
Here are some suggestions to help you get through this challenging time:
Keep in touch with friends and family. Social isolation is a significant concern after the loss of built-in connection with peers at work, and isolation from others is correlated to poor mental health outcomes. To stay in touch and create some structure to your days, try scheduling opportunities to connect with others through phone or video calls, and walking or coffee dates.
Keep busy and stay active. Go for a walk or run outside and make exercise a part of your day. There are many free, online workouts you can do at home. Physical activity generates new ideas, keeps you motivated and mentally sharp, and can help manage mild to moderate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Focus on others. When you’re feeling low and not getting out as much, it’s easy to be overcome by your situation. Volunteering gets you out, advertises your skill set, and shifts the focus from yourself to the needs of others. Use the skills you have to benefit others – many non-profit organizations need help in areas like project management, accounting, trades work, administration, etc.
Stay positive. Connect with the people who are important to you and the things that bring you joy and pleasure. Many job seekers believe that they need to spend every moment on job search activities. To keep your energy up and balance the challenges of job hunting, it’s important to make time for things you enjoy like hobbies and socializing. Try to remember that you are not alone and that these circumstances will pass.
Make use of free opportunities to learn. Take a free online course to learn a new skill or build on a skill you already have. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are a great way to learn from home at your own pace. Language skills are increasingly valued in the workplace and free apps like Duolingo make it fun and easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
Remember the essentials. Attend to your basic physical health by eating right and getting plenty of rest. Maintaining a structured routine to your day by getting up, eating and going to bed at the same time every day will serve you well.
Focus on what you can control. A job search can be discouraging when results don’t come quickly. By focusing on things within your reach, such as the healthy habits above, you’ll support a more positive outlook, which is an important key to success in any pursuit.
Consider working with a coach. Many career coaches offer free tips and tricks via their social media feeds. Manitoba Blue Cross members with Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or Individual Assistance Program coverage can reach out to schedule an appointment with one of our career counsellors for individualized support as well.
You are not alone. Managing the effects of job loss requires intentional and consistent action; it’s your new job. There are many resources and supports available to you and it's important to use them to maintain your mental and physical health, and to stay ready to re-enter the workforce.