Some describe it as a deep, dark hole from which no man can return.
Others deem it a curse of the darkest evil. Either way, long-term unemployment is one of the scariest prospects in anyone's life, and is one of the most destructive elements to one's career. Unfortunately, the effects of unemployment can go hand in hand with depression.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines long-term unemployment as lasting 26 weeks or more. Many workers start looking for a job immediately after losing the one they have. Some have immediate success, some find work later on and others find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle, eventually struggling with unemployment depression. Don't fret; even if you've found yourself agonizing over the next rent payment, there are tools to break the cycle and avoid depression associated with long-term unemployment.
Breaking the cycle has more to do with mentality than actual practice. Being out of work, worrying about bills and eating Ramen soup all play an integral part in your depression. Breaking free from your darkest hours 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 depressed, check out these 5 methods to break the cycle.
1. Step back and take a break
No one likes losing their job, unless they hated it in the first place. Don't look at it as failure. Whether you like it or not, you've just been given a mini vacation. More than likely, you needed the rest. Use the first few days to take inventory and relax. You'll have plenty of time to work around the clock. Watch a movie with your children. Finish the koi pond you've wanted in the backyard. Find something meaningful and enjoy the extra time off from work.
“Relax! That's absurd. I just lost my job.” Okay, for most of us, this isn't reasonable, or easy. Reality has a funny way of turning a minor event into a catastrophe. Maybe a little relaxation is too much to ask for at first. It's difficult to turn a negative experience into a positive when you actually loved your job. The point is to not drown in self-pity and doubt. Make a list of all the things you hate about your old job. Take the time to rant a little about those pesky complaints to your friends. Vent about your boss's absurdities. This may help you break from the old job, avoid being unemployed and depressed and prepare to move forward. Just avoid doing this on social media.
2. Don't get too cozy
Relaxing and learning to love-hate your old job is great. Just remember your goals. Don't get too comfortable catching up on missed TV shows on Hulu. Use your time wisely and efficiently. Just because the paycheck stopped doesn't mean you don't have work to do. Treat your new life as a job. Set your alarm clock to wake you at the same time and get ready for work. Schedule your time for important tasks and relaxation.
Prepare for the job search by polishing up your resume and cover letter. Remove out-of-date items, like Class President from 15 years ago or those entry-level classes you took for the 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 a doer or an achiever? Monster offers free resume writing advice to help prepare you for the job search. Udemy offers a free resume writing workshop as well. TopResume also offers a free resume critique.
3. Learn to identify risk factors
Losing a job is much like losing a loved one. Many people grieve the loss of their job and then become angry. Once they've worked through all of the emotions, they pick up the pieces and start moving on. Sometimes though, unemployment depression sets in and it takes a little more pushing to move forward. Learn to identify depression triggers and symptoms. Are you a little moody? How much are you sleeping? Are you missing meals? How long has it been since you hung out with friends? Lifestyle changes are the most common signs of depression
Listen to your friends. If they start showing concern about your behavior, it may be appropriate to seek professional help. Don't be afraid to see a counselor. It's nothing to be ashamed of; counselors specialize in helping others get on the right path. Think of counselors as traffic conductors. They point out dangers and help direct you towards a safer route. 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
With all the spare time on your hands, this is a perfect time to learn a new hobby or start an exercise regimen. View Active leisure as a necessity you can't live without. 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. The YMCA often offers reduced price memberships for people with low incomes.
5. Be useful
Everyone needs to feel useful. We need to feel wanted and appreciated. That's just human nature. It's also why self-esteem often is connected to our jobs and family life, and unemployment depression is common. We feel valued when others come to us for advice and help. Take this notion and start helping others. Many stay at home mothers – and fathers – learned to become more involved in their children's school activities or local community events. They joined neighborhood organizations, local PTA boards and other organizations to feel needed.
This is great for the resume as well. Volunteering for local events and causes show leadership potential and builds communication skills. Hiring managers look for candidates who go the extra mile to help others. This shows commitment and dedication, a valuable trait for any business. Look for local volunteer initiatives in your area. Non-profits always need help from volunteers.
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 and don't give up. There are more jobs out there. Giving in to unemployment depression and anxiety only prevents you from moving forward.
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