Unemployment can take an emotional toll.
With COVID-19 causing upheavals around the world, this is an uncertain time for everyone. No one can predict the future, but markets are falling and unemployment is on the rise. Economists agree that things could get worse before they get better. In fact, a former Bank of England official has suggested that over six million people in the UK may face unemployment, which is around 21 per cent of the workforce.
Unemployment is always a daunting prospect ‒ there's never a good time to lose your job. You don't know when you'll be earning an income again, but the bills don't stop coming.
On top of the financial stress, there's the mental and emotional strain as well. After all, it isn't just a matter of finding work, but of staying positive and maintaining your motivation.
Here are five ways to face those challenges, which you may find helpful if you're facing long-term unemployment.
Take time to recalibrate and reassess
Love it or hate it, your job is a huge part of your life. Therefore, losing your job can mean a lot more than just losing your income. You can also lose your routine, your community and maybe even your sense of purpose.
So take some time to come to terms with this mental and emotional impact. If you need to spend a couple of days watching the telly and eating a whole tub of ice cream, then do what you have to do to recalibrate.
Assessing what's happened ‒ either in writing or just by thinking it through ‒ can be a big help. So can assessing your future. Consider your skills and your strengths and what you liked and disliked about your previous job. Take stock of the things you have going for you ‒ the tools that will help you work through this ‒ and move forward.
Then, take a look at what's out there. Go over your options with an open mind, and figure out where you stand in your new circumstances. There are plenty of resources available, and if you need to update your CV, check out TopCV's free CV critique service.
Move forward 1 step at a time
The COVID-19 pandemic is a bigger crisis than most of us have ever experienced before ‒ both in scale and the extent of the disruptions to our day-to-day lives.
When facing any challenge, no matter how big, there's only ever one way out: through. That means taking it one step at a time. There might be a day where you achieve a lot, and the next day you might feel like you've got nothing done. Keep at it. These things take time, so just keep moving forward.
Part of moving forward can be accepting compromises. If there is a day when the job hunt needs to take a backseat to taking care of your mental well-being, that's alright. But on other days, you may need to push through the struggle to get an application in on time or to attend a job interview.
Additionally, you may need to accept a role that's not exactly what you wanted, simply because your situation is urgent. Hopefully it's still a step in the right direction. Use your best judgment on what you need to do to balance your financial and emotional needs.
Stay on top of your mental state
Learn to identify the things that set you back and find ways of keeping ahead of them. Even something as simple as getting up at the same time every day and setting a regular schedule for your meals can have a big influence on your mood and your outlook.
Keeping a journal can help you keep perspective on all your ups and downs, and so can staying in touch with friends and family. The daily back and forth of the office keeps your social bars full, and you might not realise you miss it until you wind up feeling flat and empty.
However, there's only so far that tips and tricks can go. If you need help, reach out to a professional. There are so many mental health options out there, including virtual sessions over the phone. Samaritans has a free, 24-hour helpline on 116 123, or check out the NHS website for other options.
Take care of your body
Taking care of yourself does not always mean not getting up until the afternoon and then lounging around in your pyjamas. More often than not, taking care of yourself means eating right and staying active. If you sit around in the dark all day eating nothing but junk food, you'll end up in a mental black hole quicker than you can say 'pass the crisps.'
Of course, we all need to take precautions while the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, and staying home as much as possible is important. If you can't get out and about, there are plenty of exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home. YouTube is full of workout videos and virtual yoga sessions, or just do a quick Google for 'home exercise program'. There's a lot out there, so you're sure to find something that works for you.
Keep your brain engaged
If you don't give your brain something to chew on, it's going to start chewing on itself. Unemployment can mean you have a lot of time on your hands, and updating your CV and filling in job applications only goes so far.
Engage your brain by learning a new skill or doing something creative. Download Duolingo and teach yourself a new language, look for free courses on Udemy or Coursera, or hop on YouTube and check out the amazing tutorials put out by passionate and skilled creators.
If there's one thing to keep in mind, it's this: Sometimes, you're going to feel down ‒ defeated, even ‒ and that's OK. It's only natural when you're in the midst of difficult circumstances.
What matters is not letting your feelings dictate your decisions. Even when you're feeling down, just put one foot in front of the other, and move forward one step at a time ‒ that's how you'll land your next role. You've got this.
You can be productive whilst unemployed without even doing work. Submit for a free CV critique to get expert feedback on your all-important CV.