Depression can literally be a life-threatening risk when you’re unemployed. It can sap your ability to get out of bed and move, let alone look for a job. According to Gallup, you are 2 to 3 times more likely to suffer from depression if you are out-of-work than if working full-time.
For me, the toughest part of being out of work was feeling that I did not control my own life and that the world was doing fine without me. I needed to focus on what I could control in my life and find some ways to contribute to the world now (even if there was no monetary reward for doing them). I also tried to remember that I might contribute something even more significant in the future, so I had to keep going to the future, one step at a time.
Originally I planned to title this article “How to Escape Job Searching, Rejection and Depression Hell,” but I reject the idea that anyone can promise an escape. What I’m going to outline is a 5-Day Plan that I hope will make you feel more hopeful and more human. These are simple steps you can do NOW to help you feel somewhat better.
Just ‘somewhat better?’ you ask.
Here’s the deal — if I promise to make your life awesome and make you bulletproof and ready to blaze a new career path for yourself and you don’t get there — you’ll either hate me or blame yourself. Neither is a good thing. So how about we aim for you to feel somewhat better, a bit more hopeful, a bit more able to walk outside and feel joy? Together let’s try to make you feel less overwhelmed — not quite so down. If this idea appeals to you, keep reading.
My plan is designed to be done over five days, but feel free to do it at whatever pace suits you.
Step 1) Take a walk for 15 minutes outside of your house. If you have children, either bring them along or ask someone to watch them. If possible, try to find a bit of nature along your walk. According to Psychology Today two hours a week (averaging 17 minutes a day) in a natural setting decreases blood pressure, stress levels, and improves mental health. But, regardless of the setting, the important thing is that you get up and out and walk for 15 minutes. Go. Now.
Step 2) Take a shower.
Step 3) Write down your biggest fear/pain point/worry about being out of work for you. Think about what is bothering you the most. Often, we try to push bad thoughts out of our minds. I’ve heard this compared to trying to push a balloon down in the water. It will keep resurfacing.
It is healthier to get your biggest issue out on paper where you can see it. I’m interested in hearing about these, so I can understand what Unemploymentville readers are struggling with and offer info and ideas that will be helpful. So email me at admin at Unemploymentville.com and put a subject line of: Biggest Problem
Step 4) Make notes about stuff you are good at.
Being out of work definitely hurt my confidence and self-esteem. When I would make any mistake, I couldn’t shrug it off. Now, when I have a job, my usual thoughts are, “Well, no one is perfect.” or “There are lots of other things I’m good at. This just isn’t my strong suit.”
I’d like you to sit down and make a list of things you are good at. It doesn’t have to be something you get paid to do. If you are a good listener, a loyal friend, can make people laugh write it down. If you are fearless, write it down. If you can cook an amazing dinner, write it down. And yes, also put the sort of stuff down that you might include on a resume.
Step 5) Get input from others.
Now, I want you to hear how other people think you rock and here is a simple way to do so.
I want you to write at least 5 people with an email along the lines of this one below.
Great. Do NOT sit and wait for replies. Put them out of your mind and move on to the next step.
Step 6: Recognize that you are not alone. I felt so very isolated and sad when I was out of work. Everyone went off to work or school and I was just home. I want you to read at least one story of a person who struggled with finding a job. Here are five on Unemploymentville.
if you like some of these, you might also like Out-of-Work to Making Money, 21 Comeback Stories Every Job Hunter Should Hear
Step 8: Choose something that you love to do that you can do one of the next couple days.
Step 9: Choose a mantra to say to yourself.
Step 7: Choose something new to learn OR brush up on.
My turn will come.
Study something you might not have had time for when working. What you choose to learn doesn’t have to be work-related. Learn to juggle, draw, act, cook. There are some excellent free tutorials on YouTube . For something more academic, try the free offerings at KhanAcademy.org. For more job-related skills, consider Udemy.com.
The idea of choosing it today and doing it one of the next couple days is that tomorrow you’ll wake up with some positive anticipation about what the day will bring. You can set a catch-up chat with a friend date. You can go someplace that inspires you. Spend some time today thinking about one fun thing you can do tomorrow and plan it. Email me at admin at Unemploymentville.com and put a subject line of: Planning Fun and tell me what you have in mind.
Getting through a bout of unemployment can be difficult. It helps to have a mantra or inspirational quote to say to yourself. Here are some possibilities.
“When you are going through hell, keep going!” ~ Winston Churchill
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” -Maya Angelou
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation in which I rebuilt my life.” -J.K. Rowling
“Obstacles can’t stop you. Problems can’t stop you. Most of all, other people can’t stop you. Only you can stop you.” ~Jeffrey Gitomer
Step 11) Do something you love, something fun. Do NOT do anything job related this day.
Days 4 and 5 — Feed Your Soul
Step 10) Spend some time with a friend or family member.
Be patient with yourself, yet hopeful.
Find out how they are doing and if there is anything you can do for them. If possible, do this in person, but a phone call will work also. Or consider a video call as there is something about seeing a familiar face that gives people a lift.
This is where you do what you planned in step 8. Have fun.
Summary — How to Go Forward from Job Loss & Depression
The sadness, apathy, or anger you feel are unlikely to disappear overnight. You are going through a difficult time and it’s normal to struggle emotionally.
I hope my five-day plan has helped you feel a little better. For ideas on what to do if your job searching has hit a brick wall, read: Five Options If You’ve Been Looking for a Job and Can’t Find One
Some of these ideas also appeared in Letter (and Hope) to the Out-of-Work During This Crisis. It also contains additional ideas on possible career and job shifts.
Originally published at https://www.unemploymentville.com on February 6, 2021.