9 Ways Unemployment Can Take a Mental and Emotional Toll

For many professionals, their career is an integral part of their identity amongst other activities. Sudden and prolonged unemployment can seriously impact one’s mental and emotional health.

To help you combat and avoid that mental health toll during unemployment, we inquired business leaders and HR experts for their best advice on how to navigate unemployment.

Keep reading to learn how nine professionals address unemployment’s mental toll and, more importantly, tactics they take during uncertain times.

  • Do Something Your Future Self Would Thank You For
  • Save For An Emergency Fund
  • Keep Moving And Improving
  • Prepare For Rejection
  • Use Your Time Wisely
  • Normalize Unemployment
  • Focus On What You Can Control
  • Spring Clean Your Career
  • Get Personal Recommendations

Do Something Your Future Self Would Thank You For

Unemployment takes a toll on you, and it manifests in different ways. Humans often have a mindset where their job defines them, and without it, they lose their identity. Keep in mind that you are more than just your job title. I think, as humans, we are drawn to the concept that we must constantly be achieving milestones throughout our lifetime. Having a job makes it easier to realize milestones such as a promotion or raise. This is the sense of fulfillment that comes with being employed. There will always be a point in our lives where we find ourselves unemployed and feeling stuck. If you’re unemployed, stay busy by actively seeking jobs and doing self-improvement or self-care activities. Do something that your future self would thank you for. 

 Joe Flanagan, VelvetJobs

Save For An Emergency Fund

When I was unemployed, my biggest stressor was money—would I have enough to last until my next job? My savings were meager, and knowing the clock was running, I quickly found myself considering work that I either wasn’t qualified for (not in my field) or was entry-level compared to my skills. Having at least three months of living expenses would have helped tremendously (6 months is even better), and the benefits can be applied to more than just unemployment. Had I not felt so much pressure to take any job, I surely would have been in a better place mentally. My advice is to save a little bit from each paycheck for times like this so you can get your bearings, apply to jobs that interest you, and find the best fit for you.

Quincy Smith, ESL Authority

Keep Moving And Improving

The worst thing one can do when unemployed is to stand still. Your situation can be temporary if you keep moving forward by looking to strengthen your skills. When you have downtime between interviews, attend virtual webinars, join networking groups and participate in them, network, look for ways to enhance your skills, and read books. Unemployment is a great way to step into your better self if you don’t get stuck between your ears. You are not hopeless; you are simply redefining your career options.

LT Ladino Bryson, vCandidates

Prepare For Rejection

During unemployment, the job search process can be emotionally draining. It often gets worse with every rejection you receive. To navigate this journey, find ways to connect with people. Connecting with others who are going through a similar experience can be helpful. You should also find ways to network and make professional connections. Eventbrite and Meetup are great platforms to find events within your desired industry.

Rronniba Pemberton, Markitors

Use Your Time Wisely

While unemployed, it’s important to behave as though you still have a job because you do! Your job while unemployed is to submit for as many opportunities as possible and cultivate skills that make you a desirable candidate. Idle hours present opportunities to dwell on negative thoughts while keeping busy through job hunting, and personal development is a positive way to expend your energy. Set daily application goals and look for an online course to certify a skill that will help you in your job hunt. Lastly, if you are struggling with your mental health, speaking with a professional therapist or counselor can make a world of difference. Learning to take care of your mental health is an important skill set that will help you navigate challenges long-term.

Anna Caldwell, Beyond Finance

Normalize Unemployment

Anyone can find themselves unemployed at any time—it’s not a sign that you’re a loser. The average American worker has at least one period of unemployment lasting 8+ months in their career, so it’s as normal as high school graduation. Apply for every type of assistance that you can, knowing that you’ll more than pay it back once you’re working again. Many times ACA healthcare insurance is more affordable than COBRA coverage from your old employer.

Joni Holderman, Thrive! Resumes

Focus On What You Can Control

Unemployment is a stressful time for most individuals. The constant worrying about how long you will be unemployed, where will your next job come from, how you will pay your expenses, and how you will provide for your family is hard to deal with. This constant stress and worry can ultimately take a toll on your mental health. Surround yourself with positive influences, and don’t be discouraged when you receive rejections. Join networking and social groups. Exercise and get enough sleep. Focus on what you can control: yourself and your job search. 

Bryan Adelson, Red Clover

Spring Clean Your Career

Being unemployed can wreak absolute havoc on your mental well-being. So what should one do to transcend this annoying ennui? Spring clean. Not literally, but metaphorically. Do you want to remain in your current industry? What type of employers are currently hiring? Where do you want to take your career? Performing a personal inventory can be very revealing and should become your “north star” as you search for a new job. 

Jagoda Wieczorek, ResumeLab

Get Personal Recommendations

When someone is unemployed, they lose their self-esteem and sense of purpose. If you are adamant about finding a job, consider networking with friends and family. Ask them if they can make personal recommendations. Make a daily effort to apply to jobs you’re qualified for as well as ones to take while you continue your job search.

Olivia Young, Conscious Items

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