How to cope with long-term unemployment


Anyone who has been unemployed for a significant amount of time knows that it is a drain on not only your mental health, but your physical health as well. When we have a job, we feel useful and productive. Once our job is gone, those feelings start to go away with it. On top of that, if you’re unemployed for an extended amount of time, you add the additional drain of constantly searching and applying for jobs, and not getting them. The entire situation brings down your mood, which in turn can impact your physical well-being.

If you’re in this situation, you may be feeling a little hopeless. Maybe you’re at a point where you’ve stopped trying to find a new job, and instead spend all day on the couch wishing you had something to do (though we hope not). While it may feel like you are going to be stuck in this situation forever, there are actually some things you can do to get yourself out of this unemployment shame spiral.

Stay positive

The first thing you need to do is try and stay positive. It’s perfectly normal to feel hopeless if you’ve been out of work for a long time and can’t seem to find a job no matter how many you apply to. This happens to many people, and you are far from the first to experience it. However, it’s important to remember that other people have been out of work for extended periods of time, and were able to eventually find a job that they love. If they can do it, so can you!

To help keep your spirits up, consider developing a mindfulness habit. When you practice mindfulness, you avoid dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Instead you focus on the moment, and what you can do with it. You won’t get out of your situation by agonizing over what you did wrong in the past, or stressing about what your future holds, so instead focus on the only time period you have a say in – the present.

Stay active

It is hard to adjust your attitude through sheer force of will, which is why it’s important that you remain active as well. You can spend all the time you want trying to have a better outlook on life, but if you’re doing it in front of the TV all day, you’re going to find it difficult.

Just because you don’t have employment at the moment does not mean you can’t have an active life. You have plenty of free time, so you might as well make the most of it. For starters, you could pick up that new hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Maybe you’ve always wanted to paint, or take up photography. While some hobbies are expensive to get started – something you can’t afford to do while unemployed – others are relatively cheap, such as hiking, gardening, or recreational team sports. Find something you want to do, and that you can afford to do, and then get out there and do it.

Besides a hobby, you could also spend your time volunteering. There are most likely several organizations within your area that are looking for volunteers and would be happy to have you. Think about the causes you care about, and then see how you can get started helping out. You won’t get paid for this work, but you’ll at least get the satisfaction of helping others, and doing something useful with your time.

Finally, with your extra time you could start learning something new. Maybe you want to learn another language, or how to code. There are many free resources online that will teach you just about anything you want to know, or you can head over to the local library and pick up a book. Learning new things will keep your mind active, and help you to feel like you are doing something useful with your time when you’re not spending time applying to job opportunities.

Start taking positive steps forward

Once you improve your mood and keep yourself active, it’s time to start getting back into finding a job. During this process it’s important that you keep your spirits up, and to keep at it even if you don’t find something right away. Just because you weren’t picked for one job doesn’t mean you won’t land the next one – persistence is key.

To improve your chances of getting the job you want, you should consider doing the following if you haven’t yet:

  • If you haven’t updated your resume in a while, now is the time to do so. Have you been spending your free time volunteering and learning new things? Perfect – add them to your resume. The more impressive you can make your resume during your unemployment phase, the better chance you have at getting out of it.
  • Look for networking events in your area. Networking events are a great place to meet people and get leads about job openings. Dress nice, be prepared to introduce yourself, be sure to talk up your skills and experience, and go in with a positive attitude. If you can do this, you should not only find more job opportunities, but you’ll be more likely to get the job you want.
  • If your problem seems to lie within the interview phase, there are ways that you can work on that too. One way to begin is to apply for every job that you can, even if you don’t think you’ll get it. This will provide you with more opportunities to go in and interview so that you can get accustomed to the entire process. That way, you’ll seem more relaxed and confident instead of nervous and desperate. The more you can practice interviewing, the better you’ll get at it.

Besides that, there are plenty of resources online that can help you with your interview techniques. You should be able to find advice on what to wear, what kind of questions to expect, how to answer them, and what sort of questions you can ask of the employer. The more information you can gather, the more confident you’ll feel heading into the interview.

Friendly reminder: unemployment isn’t going to be permanent!

Just because you’ve been out of work for a while doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. The key is to remain positive, to use your time wisely, and to be persistent. No matter how long you’ve been unemployed, you can still find yourself a job if you just stick with it.

If you’re still having trouble finding work on your own after all of this, consider getting some assistance. There are professional services that will work with you to improve your resume, prep for interviews, and help find jobs that you’d be good at. Working with an outside service is great for people who have been unemployed for a long time, so don’t be afraid to ask for some help.


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