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This post is by Anthony Savage of Sparta Health

Whether anticipated, planned, or a total surprise, we have all been or will be unemployed at some point. It could be for a week, or even a few years. Either way, unemployment can heavily impact our emotional wellbeing. According to a study conducted by The Guardian, 'there is a strong association between suicide and unemployment'[1] with '45,000 suicides a year worldwide'[1] affiliated with unemployment. Though this is an extreme example, unemployment is often 'associated with negative feelings of fear, unworthiness, and stress'[2]. Those who are unemployed for an extended period are highly likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, a feeling of loneliness or a decrease in self-worth. It can be mentally debilitating, but it needn't be. If there is only one silver lining to being unemployed, it's the one thing you would not have had otherwise: Time. Try to view this as an opportunity to improve your skills, knowledge, and most importantly, mental wellbeing.

Get To Know Yourself

Most of us let our jobs define who we are, and without our job title, we adopt a sense of purposelessness. Instead of dwelling on that, use your unemployment time to discover who you really are, and what it is that you really want in life. If the career path you've been on your whole life isn't what you want anymore, that's fine! We are continuously growing and evolving. Embrace those changes, and work towards your new goal.

Keep To A Schedule

Without a set routine, we can feel lost and sometimes sluggish.

  • Maintain a schedule in your day to keep yourself motivated, including a lunch-break and an 'end-of-day-relaxation-time'.
  • Get up at the same time every day, and get yourself out of those comfy pyjamas and into some jeans. You'll trick yourself into thinking it's 'business time' and in turn, you'll be more productive.
  • Have a bed-time routine. Give yourself time to wind down; maybe have a bath, or meditate before bed.
  • Set a to-do list, even if all you need to achieve is filling the dishwasher. 'Having a to-do list and sticking to it will make you feel like you're making good progress—and keeping forward momentum and a positive attitude throughout the job hunt is key'[3].

Look After Yourself

As much as we want to sit on the sofa and chill all day, it's essential to get those steps up and move around a bit. Even just going for a walk once a day can make a considerable difference. Exercising regularly, even in moderation, 'can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, and ADHD. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood'[4]. Be it a walk, run, yoga session or HIIT workout, find what suits you and stick at it. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

A lot of the time, food is a comfort. 'Emotional eating and drinking are other common vices of the unemployed job seeker'[3]. We eat when we are bored to fool ourselves into thinking that we are doing something. But ultimately, we should eat to fuel our bodies. If you snack on typically unhealthy foods too often, you will feel lethargic and unmotivated. Instead, try making some healthier snacks and sip on some water during the day. You could even take a cooking class and up your culinary skills to make meal-time more of an experience.

Your Feelings Are Valid

Being unemployed inevitably takes a toll on your mental wellbeing. Allow yourself to feel a little bit rubbish sometimes. Bottling it all up and putting on a brave face is unhealthy and counterproductive. If anything, it will make you feel worse in the long run. Validate your feelings, and you will feel strong enough to push past them. Remember, your job doesn't define who you are.

You're Not Alone

This year has been crazy for all of us, and many people have lost their jobs. Try to 'take solace in the fact that there are plenty of others out there just like you'[3]. We can't stress enough just how impactful and essential communication is. Express your worries or stresses to your loved ones. You aren't being a burden or a bother in doing so; they will want to help you. If you feel a bit unsure about talking to anyone you know, you could try 'consulting an online job seekers' forum for a dose of anonymous support'[3]. 

Prepare Yourself For Employment

If you have a large gap in your CV, potential employers will ask you what you did in that time. Keep that in mind, and actively prepare yourself for your next steps. Perhaps you could 'make a list of your strengths and weaknesses that will help guide you in addressing future interview questions'[2]. And, you could even pick up a new skill; 'consider teaching yourself how to code, taking that fun art class you've always meant to, or mastering another language'[3]. Use this as your opportunity to expand your skillset and do the things you never had time to before. You should also improve and update your CV and your LinkedIn. Make yourself stand out.

Another great option is to make yourself a website. It will allow you to showcase your skills in an accessible, engaging way. And, if you wanted to, you could learn how to code it yourself. That would be sure to get some attention from potential employers!

Pressure

Finally, don't put too much pressure on yourself to thrive in this time. Yes, it's an opportunity to advance your skill set and focus on your physical and mental wellbeing. But it's also scary and stressful. You don't have to be on top form every single day. It's alright to lapse and sleep in or have a sofa day. Just do your best to listen to your mind and body, and you'll be okay.

About Anthony Savage 

Anthony Savage is the Medical Services Manager at Sparta Health, having joined the team in 2017 and is responsible for the overall operational delivery of our high quality services to our clients. He has a solid background in workplace physiology, health and safety, as well over 12 years of delivering, and holding senior management positions, for leading injury and condition management providers.

He is known for his innovative approach in his design and execution of services and his ability to build enduring relationships.

References:

  1. NHS Choices. Unemployment and job insecurity linked to increased risk of suicide [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2017.
  2. Cheina A. 8 Ways to Turn Unemployment Into Positive Situation [Internet]. Lifehack. 2014 [cited 2020 Dec 11].
  3. Muse T. Feeling Battered by Unemployment? 5 Ways to Stay Strong [Internet]. Forbes. 2013 [cited 2020 Dec 11].
  4. Robinson L, Segal J, Smith M. The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise: The Exercise Prescription for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress [Internet]. Helpguide.org. 2019.
Positivity

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