Coping with Unemployment

by | 19.11.20

Whether you have been made redundant, are on furlough, seen contract work dry up or been put on shorter hours, losing your employment is one of life’s most stressful experiences. Aside from the obvious financial anguish it can cause, the stress of losing a job can also take a heavy toll on your mood, relationships and overall mental and emotional health. Uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic only adds to the angst. The first step in coping with the mental and emotional effects of unemployment is accepting that your feelings are normal. Here are some tips:

Accept how you feel

Remember you are human. This means you have a brain that is wired to look for threats. When your brain spots a threat, such as unemployment, it sends signals throughout your body to gather resources to address it. You will feel anxious, you will feel exhausted, you will feel lost. Accept that what you’re feeling is normal. Congratulate yourself on coping as well as you can given the circumstances.

Grieve -its only natural

When you’ve lost your job, whether its permanently or you’ve been furloughed, grief is one of the most significant emotions you may feel. Amongst the obvious loss of an income you may also grieve the fact your job brought meaning and purpose to your life. You may also grieve your career accomplishments, your sense or belonging, the loss of relationships with co-workers and the structure to your day.

Keep a cool head

Try to keep in mind that the pandemic is causing many, many Companies worldwide to make difficult decisions.  This is not a personal thing.  Employers in more or less every industry are suffering and having to cut costs in order to survive.  The largest cost most Companies have is salaries, so when employers look at cutting costs the first area they look at is salaries.  Generally redundancies are made on the basis of first in last out, they are not based on your worth.


Establish what you need and source resources

If you’re having trouble providing basic needs for yourself or your family you need to look at what benefits are available to you.  Getting help with basic needs can reduce the stress of unemployment.  Don’t be proud, you’ve paid for this support in your taxes, you are entitled to it.  It will make your life easier if you seek support and give you a bit of breathing space whilst you are looking for a job.

Don’t loose friends

Anxiety levels at the moment are very high in a lot of people.  If you are struggling be aware that others around you may be too.  Anxiety and stress may cause people to do and say things that don’t mean.  If this ever happens to you aim to assume the person didn’t mean offence or harm.  Try to have compassion for others, like you they are likely to be struggling and doing their best to manage their feeling during this awful crisis.

Use your energy wisely

What makes you feel energised and what drains your energy? Once you’ve established this try to do more of the things that boost your energy.  For example, don’t be hard on yourself or focus on your losses.  Instead be kind to yourself and find reason to laugh.  Just as you would if you were working, build breaks into your day.  I know looking for a new job is a full time job, but build coffee breaks and a lunch break into everyday and you most definitely must have weekends off.

Focus on what you can control

Focus on what you can control at this moment, rather than on concerns about your future.  If your mind wanders to worries about not having a job or your finances gently turn it back to what you are doing at the moment and what is in your control.  You can’t magic up a job, but you can put all your effort into finding one.  You can’t get rid of your bills, but you can talk to your mortgage provider or landlord and perhaps reach a reduced payment agreement.  You can only try to manage things that are manageable you cannot perform miracles.

Believe in yourself

Don’t loose your confidence.  You were valuable at work now you need to look for new ways to contribute.  This could be helping others, doing voluntary work, doing more housework or cooking at home or helping a neighbour with their garden.  Also make a list of what you’re good at, what you know and what you can count on within yourself  This will help you remember you are a worthy person of real value and it will make you feel better about yourself.

Think of your job loss as a temporary setback

Most successful people have experienced major setbacks in their careers but have turned things around by picking themselves up, learning from the experience and trying again.  You can do the same


Look for any silver lining

The feelings generated by losing a job are easier to accept if you can find the lesson in your loss.  This can be difficult at such a low point in your life, but ask yourself if there is anything you can learn from this experience. Maybe your unemployment will give you a chance to reflect on what you want out of life and rethink your career priorities.  Perhaps it will make you stronger.  If you look, you will be sure to find something of value.

It is a terrible time you are going through but you are not alone, there are lots and lots of people in the same situation as you.  Employment is going to take a long time to recover, but recover it will, so you need to be ready and able for when it does.  Keep positive, keep busy and above all keep looking for a job, there really is one out there just waiting for you to find it.

Good luck

Angela Burton