For many, long-term unemployment is one of the scariest prospects, and unfortunately, often goes hand in hand with unemployment depression and anxiety.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines long-term unemployment as lasting 26 weeks or more, and while many workers start looking for a job immediately after losing the one they have and find immediate success, others find themselves feeling the emotional stress of long-term unemployment. If the emotional effects of long-term unemployment are taking a toll, there are tools you can use to break the cycle and avoid unemployment depression.
Breaking the cycle has a lot to do with mentality and requires strategic planning and self-encouragement. Yes, it's important to continue searching for a job, but it's just as important to build your self-worth. If you're unemployed and feeling especially down, check out these five methods to build yourself back up.
1. Step back and take a deep breath
No one likes losing their job — unless they hated it in the first place. Either way, don't look at it as a failure. Use the first few days to take inventory and relax. Watch a movie with your children, find something meaningful to distract yourself, and take a deep breath before diving right back in.
We know this is easier said than done; life goes on and bills need to be paid. The point is to not drown in self-pity and doubt. Instead, turn to productivity. Give a self-evaluation a try. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, skills you have, skills you need, and even make a list of all the things you disliked about your old job. This exercise will help prepare you to move forward and even pinpoint the type of position and company you're looking for.
2. Don't get too cozy
Don't get too comfortable catching up on missed TV shows. Instead, treat your new reality as a job and use your time wisely and efficiently to achieve your goals. Set your alarm clock to wake you up at the same time each day and get ready to work. Schedule time for important tasks and relaxation. Set daily goals and long-term goals, like committing to applying to one job a day or making a new connection every week — whatever you think is reasonable for your situation. Then, make a point to stick to it.
Another way to prepare for the job search is by polishing up your resume and cover letter. Remove out-of-date items, like those entry-level classes you took for your first job. Update the design and template to a more modern, professional feel. Are there experiences, skills, or professional development missing? Have you added your most recent position? Does your resume reflect you as a doer or an achiever?
3. Learn to identify risk factors
Losing a job is much like losing a loved one, and most people need time to grieve the loss of their job. Once you've worked through all of the emotions, pick up the pieces and start moving on.
Sometimes though, emotional distress due to unemployment can set in, and it takes a little more pushing to move forward. Learn to identify depression triggers and symptoms. How much are you sleeping? Are you missing meals? How long has it been since you socialized?
Listen to your friends and family. If they start showing concern about your behavior, it may be appropriate to seek professional help. There are online, licensed counselors who can help you get past unemployment depression. Breakthrough and Talkspace are two popular organizations offering online support groups and individual counseling.
4. Get in shape
This is a perfect time to learn a new hobby or start an exercise regimen. Being active has many health benefits. It creates a sense of accomplishment, develops strong self-esteem, and turns downtime into valuable time.
Visit your local gym and join one of their weekly activity programs. Many gyms offer swimming, racquetball, and other healthy activities. Some even offer game nights, movies, and other leisure events where you can make new friends and socialize.
There are also tons of options for working out right from your living room — some are even free! Darabee is a free and comprehensive global fitness guide. More of a yoga person? Give Yoga with Adriene a try, while Couch to 5k will get you up and running in no time! Peloton also offers a wide variety of classes on their app and has a 90-day free trial, no bike needed.
5. Be useful
Everyone needs to feel useful; that's just human nature. It's also why self-esteem is often connected to our jobs and family life — and why unemployment depression is common. We feel valued when others come to us for advice and help.
Take this notion and start helping others. If you're a parent, take a cue from the many stay-at-home mothers and fathers who become involved in their children's school activities or local community events. They join neighborhood organizations, local PTA boards, and other organizations to feel needed and foster a sense of community.
This is great for your resume as well. Volunteering for local events and causes shows leadership potential and builds communication skills. Hiring managers look for candidates who go the extra mile to help others since it shows commitment and dedication, a valuable trait for any business. Look for local volunteer initiatives in your area, such as non-profits; they always need help from volunteers.
6. Be kind to yourself
Depression, anxiety, and stress all play an important role in how long a person is out of work. While much of this cannot be prevented, you can take steps to reduce the chances of being out of a job long-term. Maintain a positive attitude, don't give up, and be patient and kind to yourself. There are more jobs out there.
Another way to shorten your unemployment? Having an effective resume. Our resume writers can help!
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