Unemployment Stress Is Normal: How to Cope

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What is unemployment stress? How can you cope with the mental health challenges of a job search?

If it is hard to find a job, you probably feel more stressed the longer it takes to get hired. This unemployment stress is a normal emotion.

Keep reading for some tips on managing depression and coping with unemployment stress.

Unemployment Stress and Depression

Throughout the job-hunting process, it’s important to take care of yourself. It’s normal to feel depressed or discouraged when you’re unemployed and it’s hard to find a job—one study found that the longer you’re unemployed, the more intense these feelings become. Additionally, the job search stress itself can intensify your negative feelings and unemployment stress⁠—job hunting is a lot of mental work. 

There are eleven ways to improve your mental health and reduce unemployment stress while you’re unemployed:

  1. Sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, you feel sad. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re sad because you don’t have a job or sad because you’re tired. If you’re feeling sad, try sleeping, and even if there’s some greater underlying reason for your unhappiness, you’ll probably feel at least a bit better.
  2. Maintain our physical health. Drink water, exercise, and eat properly (including vitamins).
  3. Improve our surroundings. A messy space can contribute to our feelings of sadness. So, clean up your home and put things in their place.
  4. Go outside. Seeing nature will make you feel better.
  5. Think about others. There are always people in the world who are in a worse place than you are. Volunteer at an organization that helps people, such as a food bank or hospital.
  6. Reconnect with your friends. Your friends will be important to your job hunt, but more importantly, social interaction contributes to your happiness.
  7. Go on staycations. This encourages you to think about the opportunities you have, not focus on the ones you’ve lost.
  8. Learn a new skill. Read a book, watch or video, or take a class in something you’ve always wanted to learn. If you don’t have any ideas, learn about ideas themselves⁠—learn about the mind.
  9. Unload your feelings. Feelings are harder to manage internally. As soon as you say them aloud, they lose power. Just make sure that whomever you talk to about your feelings is discreet.
  10. Hit something. Punching a pillow or a punching bag is a good way to get rid of anger. Also, anger often contributes to sadness.
  11. Be grateful. Every day, make a list of what you’re grateful for. When we’re unemployed, we tend to focus on the negatives. Instead, focus on positives⁠—you may not have a job right now, but you have plenty of other important things. This will help with the job search stress.
Unemployment Stress Is Normal: How to Cope

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Here's what you'll find in our full What Color Is Your Parachute? summary:

  • How to not just find a job, but find a job you love
  • Why traditional resumes don’t find you the right job
  • The 7 steps to identifying your ideal career

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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