With unemployment skyrocketing, navigating job loss has become the norm for many. Financial stress, loss of identity, and fear of the future are just a few of the worries that accompany unemployment. Giving attention to your mental, social, and physical health is critical while navigating this unexpected season.
Emotional wellbeing can be particularly fragile when you’re navigating job loss. Loss of identity, routine, and a sense of purpose can quickly lead to anxiety and depression. Studies show that people who experience unemployment are twice as likely to experience anxiety and depression.
To combat stress and the emotional toll of job loss, VeryWell suggests that you (1) tackle the problem itself, and (2) tackle how you feel about the problem. Tackling the problem includes taking proactive steps to change your situation by applying for unemployment, looking for new job opportunities, creating a budget, and taking other practical steps for immediate and future planning. Tackling how you feel about the problem includes acknowledging your feelings, finding healthy coping mechanisms, and seeking professional help when needed.
Tending to both the practical steps and your mindset around your job loss are important when you’re navigating job loss.
The loss of social connection is a common experience if you are navigating job loss. Colleagues you once saw on a daily basis are no longer part of your life, and job loss alone can cause you to withdraw from the people who mean the most to you. The Mayo Clinic cites research that shows social isolation and loneliness are correlated with poor mental health and physical health, including poor cardiovascular health.
A strong social network can improve social wellbeing during job loss. Studies also indicate that a good social network improves the ability to cope with stressful situations, alleviates the effects of emotional distress, enhances self-esteem, and promotes healthy lifestyle behaviors, among other benefits.
You can build a strong social network by volunteering, taking a class, staying in touch with others, connecting through social platforms, setting good boundaries with family and friends, and spending time with those who give you energy and avoiding those who deplete it. Navigating job loss can be a time to build strong social wellbeing for now and the future.
A regular exercise routine has proven benefits for reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression that can set in when navigating job loss. Exercise promotes brain health, particularly benefiting the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory, emotion regulation, and learning. Three or more exercise sessions each week that last 45-60 minutes has shown to improve even chronic depression.
Equally important to regular exercise is prioritizing a healthy diet. Filling your plate with plenty of vegetables, a lean protein, a small healthy carb, and a dose of healthy fat will provide your brain with the energy it needs to support your physical and emotional wellbeing. Healthy fats, in particular, like avocado, nuts, and seeds provide a boost of energy to support your mood. As you navigate job loss, be intentional about preparing meals that fuel rather than deplete you.
Navigating job loss isn’t easy. But with attention to your mental health, social health, and physical health, you can support your wellbeing even in the toughest of circumstances.