Coping with Unemployment: Tips on Dealing with Depression when You’re out of Work

One in 10 U.S. adults is depressed, and joblessness is a major contributing factor. But even if you are facing unemployment, this statistic doesn’t have to get you down. You have tools at your disposal that can help you manage feelings of depression during this uncertain time.

Take Time to Grieve

Job loss is just that: a loss. With loss comes grieving. That’s normal and okay. Robert J. Fetsch of Colorado State University assures people facing unemployment that they can give themselves time to experience sadness, anger and anxious feelings.

The key is to use these feelings to your advantage. Rather than continuing to dwell in this dark place, think about other times in your life when you have experienced similar emotions. What did you do well in that situation that helped you get through it? How can you apply those lessons to your present circumstances?

Comparing your current situation to tough spots you’ve been in before can help you remember that this, too, is temporary, and you will get through it. Additionally, remembering that you have the skills to come out ahead can be a much-needed confidence booster. Job loss is tough, but it’s not the end of the road for you.

Establish a Routine

When you were employed, you probably had a daily routine that kept your life in rhythm. Now that you’re not working, it’s easy to fall out of it. Although many people dream of a perpetual vacation, the reality is that you may start to feel adrift without the structure of a regular routine.

U.S. News and World Report recommends scheduling time into your day to focus on your job search, but that should be only one part of your daily routine. Also block out time for physical fitness, social interaction, volunteer work and other things that keep you active and give structure to your week.

Seek out Purpose

Along with job loss often comes a sense of identity loss. You might find yourself wondering if you still have value without your professional identity. Instead of letting this hopeless attitude settle in, put your free time to good use through volunteer work. Serving others affirms that you are a worthwhile person with good things to offer to those around you.

Helpguide.org offers reasons why volunteer work is useful during a period of unemployment:

  • Volunteering provides you with a sense of purpose.

  • Helping others puts you in a positive mood.

  • Volunteering with others provides social interaction.

  • Networking opportunities and career experience can be side benefits of volunteer work.

Get Support

Everyone needs a listening ear. Whether it’s a friend or a family member, you need someone by your side who will be there when you need to talk. However, not every who’s willing to listen is the best choice. Find positive people who will build you up, rather than the “misery loves company” sort of friend who is more than happy to dwell on everything negative with you. Positive people will help you maintain a confident outlook in the midst of this trying time.

Along those lines, hiding your situation won’t help anyone. Be honest with the people in your life about what’s going on. When your family members are aware of your unemployment, you can work together to brainstorm solutions. You need them to help you through this, and they need you to be real with them.

Finally, if joblessness is really bringing you down, seek professional help. You are more than your unemployment, but sometimes it may take the assistance of a trained counselor to help you remember that.