How to Cope with Unemployment Uncertainty

How to Cope with Unemployment Uncertainty

by Tina Hurd

If you’re unemployed, feeling anxious and uncertain about your future, you are not alone! Feelings of uncertainty after job loss are not uncommon. 

When confronted with job loss and unemployment, you may experience a rollercoaster of emotions similar to grieving: shock, denial, anger, sadness, depression and eventually a sense of adjustment. 

During the grieving process, you may find yourself faced with a number of challenges including financial concerns, unstructured time and career confusion. You may experience a loss of identity and sense of purpose, diminished self-confidence and an overall feeling of uncertainty. You may question your abilities and withdraw from social circles and contacts. 

Feelings of anger, depression, self-doubt and uncertainty can take over your life, resulting in an inability to take action, helplessness and loss of control. However, developing a plan of action will help you take control, move forward and assist you in dealing with unemployment uncertainty. Recognizing that uncertainty is a constant challenge is the first step towards dealing with unemployment. 

Here are some tips to help you regain control of your life and cope with unemployment uncertainty:

  1. Take care of yourself. Prioritize self-care and get adequate sleep. Sleep loss diminishes your ability to focus and contributes to feeling down. Exercise. Exercise releases endorphins and will help you feel better. If you are unable to work out, seek out other ways to be active such as dancing, walking, and gardening. Eat regular meals. Do not skip breakfast. Breakfast provides your body with fuel to start off your day. Include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Drink lots of water.
  2. Structure and manage your time. Organize a daily schedule. Treat looking for work as a full-time job and develop a daily action plan such as working on your resumé, making two contacts a day, attending workshops and improving your skills. Be persistent and consistent even when you are feeling down. But be flexible and take advantage of your extra time by scheduling to do things that you have wanted to do and that you enjoy.
  3. Manage your stress. Incorporate stress-reduction techniques into your day. Practice mindfulness. Be aware of your energy level throughout the day and, whenever possible, schedule job search activities for when you are at your best.
  4. Budget carefully. Being aware of your finances will help you deal with the financial stress related to loss of income. 
  5. Reach out to others. Talk about your job loss; not only is it an emotional release but it also lets people around you know that you are looking for work which can lead to job leads and opportunities. Value your relationships. Spend time with family and friends. If you are alone, contact a crisis line and reach out to your local neighbourhood house or community centre to learn about available resources.
  6. Take control of your job search. Be proactive. Rather than limiting your job search to online applications and online job sites, spend time targeting employers you would like to work for. Set up informational interviews and distribute your resumé to various employers. Follow up after applying for positions.
  7. Volunteer. There are a number of benefits to volunteering. Not only does it help you to network, you also have the opportunity to add new skills, keep current skills active and receive a great reference. Volunteering is a great asset to add to your resumé and demonstrates great character to an employer. Also, helping others will keep you busy and help you to feel better about yourself.
  8. Be positive. Focusing on the negative prevents you from being open to opportunities. Instead, focus on your possibilities rather than on your fears. Try to see things in a more positive light. For example, if you are dealing with rejection from an interview, reframe it in a positive way by acknowledging the fact that you got the interview and then learn from it. Focus on what you have achieved versus what you haven’t. 
  9. Maintain a sense of humour. Smile and laugh. Studies have shown that laughter reduces stress and is great for your overall health. Don’t forget to have fun! 
  10. Practice gratitude and maintain hope. Keep a daily gratitude journal and write down three things you are grateful for every day. Express gratitude and appreciation to the people around you. Believe in yourself. And remember, there is light at the end of the job search tunnel. 

Tina Hurd is the manager of YWCA Changing Gears

For free employment programs and all things job search-related, visit our Help for Job Seekers page