How to Handle and Overcome Job Loss Depression

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Depressed unemployed worker struggling to overcome job loss concept

Understandably, the rate of depression increases as one is left without a job, and with US unemployment rising to an all-time high in March 2020 (at 23%), the link to unemployment and mental health issues has never been more concerning.

While it’s easy to get bogged down with your feelings when you suddenly become unemployed, it’s essential not to lose a sense of yourself when you lose your job.

To help you overcome job loss depression and focus on a more positive outlook, we’ve compiled a list of 15 essential steps you need to follow after losing your job.

1. Allow yourself to grieve

Like any failure or disappointment in life, you’re going to go experience the five stages of grief, which is totally normal!

Face your feelings by giving yourself a few weeks to be upset and get your head around your new situation. Just be sure that this wallowing doesn’t go on for a long period of time!

2. Accept the loss of your job

Most employees don’t usually suspect a layoff coming their way, which makes it a harder pill to swallow when you’re suddenly told not to return to work anymore.

So, after allowing yourself to grieve, you must accept the loss of your job before you can move on. Instead of dwelling on what could have happened, try to reflect on your actions, mistakes and achievements, and use them to better yourself during this time.

3. Don’t beat yourself up

Avoid putting yourself down when you’ve lost your job, especially if you already struggle with anxiety.

According to Richard H Price, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, ‘the effects can be even worse for those who are already predisposed to feelings of depression... In addition to the loss of the job, feelings of rejection and hopelessness can creep in as jobseekers look for additional employment’.

To avoid these feelings, remind yourself that everything happens for a reason.

4. Pick yourself up and move on

Regardless of how or why you lost your job, you must find the silver lining and use this as an opportunity to rethink your career goals and find a position that truly makes you happy. You could even consider working a few side gigs to bring some income in until you find a full-time job.

5. Apply for government assistance

There’s no shame in applying for government assistance when you’re unemployed!

Most government job centres across the world have great resources to help with your job search and guarantee that you’ll get some funding until you’re up on your feet again!

6. Start networking

Networking is a great way to find new opportunities when you’re unemployed, as plenty of new roles aren’t actually advertised. So, spruce up your LinkedIn profile, join networking forums and reach out to your contacts to see if they can give you a helping hand.

7. Journal

It’s natural to have intense and changing moods when you’re recently unemployed, which is why journaling can help you channel your frustration and express yourself without lashing out on those around you.

Take 10 minutes at the start or end of your day to write down how you feel and what you have achieved during the day – this will help you constructively analyse your thoughts and release any negative emotions.

8. Practise meditation

Losing your job can make you feel angry, sad and fearful, and in order to help recover your confidence, meditation is an integral part of the process.

By following a regular meditation regime, you can rid your anxiety and develop resilience and confidence when it comes to your job search. You’ll also increase your ability to focus which, in turn, will boost your immune system – a great habit that you can continue even when you’re employed again!

9. Learn a new skill

When we lead busy lives working a full-time job, it can be hard to develop new skills and expand our knowledge. So, now that you have the free time, use it to your advantage by learning something new that can boost your chances of securing a new job.

You don’t necessarily have to pay for a course, either; with so many free tutorials available online, you can teach yourself without the need to go to a classroom. By obtaining new skills, you’ll also feel more confident when it comes to your new job opportunities.

10. Volunteer

Another great way to learn new skills is through volunteering. Also, by helping others, you can gain great career experience, which will look great on your CV as well as avoid any employment gaps. It will also be a good networking experience and help you gain a sense of achievement and fulfilment.

Instead of sitting around and sulking, you can do some good by offering your assistance to those who need it. The best part? You can find online volunteer opportunities now, too.

11. Do something that you enjoy

While you’re working over 40 hours a week, it’s easy to stop doing things that you enjoy, like reading, socialising or attending your local Zumba class. So, now that time is in your favour, focus on a few activities or hobbies that you enjoy doing.

You could also consider trying something that you’ve been wanting to do for a long time, like attending an art class. You may discover a new sense of fulfilment or direction while doing so, which can help you navigate your career path.

12. Exercise

It’s no secret that exercise is a huge stress-reliever and mood changer; with exercising releasing endorphins to the brain, you’ll instantly feel uplifted and more relaxed.

To help boost your confidence and make you physically fitter, try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day – this could involve going for a walk or following a free workout online.

13. Stick to a regular routine

Even though you’re no longer following your normal routine (waking up, commuting to work, coming home and cooking), it’s important to create and stick to a new routine. After all, job searching is a large task in itself!

So, commit your regular working hours to finding a job, and keep track of your progress by charting what you’ve done to improve your employability and the jobs you have applied to.

14. Build resilience

To accept any possible rejections when interviewing for new roles, you’ll need to build some resilience.

You can do this by combining a few of the points that we’ve already discussed; a healthy body and mind will aid in growing resilience. Moreover, practising cognitive restructuring can change the way that you think of negative events.

15. Seek professional help

If you’re still feeling down, having difficulty sleeping or suffering from panic attacks after following a few suggested techniques, it’s important to seek professional help from a therapist or mental health worker! They will help you overcome your emotions and will offer the support that you need.

While you might feel like you’ve been dealt the worst cards, you’re definitely not alone! To help combat unemployment depression, reach out for support from your network of friends and family or consider joining a support group. That said, you must remember that your job doesn’t define who you are as a person, so if you feel like you’ve been hiding under your profession, now is your chance to realign your goals and start a new chapter in life!

Have you recently lost your job? How are you dealing with it? Join the conversation below and let us know!