New data shows nearly 600,000 Aussies lost their jobs in April alone, following social distancing measures implemented as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. This doesn’t include the six million+ people currently on JobKeeper – even if they have been stood down or aren’t working at the moment.

Losing your job can have a significant impact on your mental wellbeing at the best of times, let alone in the middle of a global pandemic.

Fear and anxiety around unemployment might be exacerbated by distress surrounding the outbreak. You might be facing financial hardship, struggling without the social interaction your colleagues provided, or even questioning your worth.

Self-care is a must to get through these extraordinary times. If you’re experiencing sudden unemployment, we hope these tips help you protect your mental health and maintain a positive mindset.

 

Be Kind to Yourself

Being made redundant can make us feel every sense of the word. But if you’ve lost your job during COVID-19, it likely has nothing to do with your performance – so try not to blame yourself or feel like you’ve failed.

It’s normal to experience a range of emotions in response to an unexpected job loss. Given the unusual circumstances, you may even feel anger or a sense of injustice. How could this happen to me? It’s not fair.

Try to remember that this is a temporary setback, and there will be a way forward. In the meantime, be patient and kind to yourself, and remember all the great qualities that make you so much more than your job.

 

Maintain a Routine

Feeling a little lost without your regular 9-5? Creating a new daily routine can help you take back some control during such an uncertain time. Routine is also known to reduce stress and provide comfort, which can be especially helpful to those who are unemployed and depressed or anxious. So while it might be tempting to sleep in until midday and stay in your pyjamas all day, following a considered structure is likely going to be better for your mental health.

Everyone’s daily schedule will look different, but a few ways to maintain momentum while unemployed might include:

  • Getting out of bed at a reasonable hour
  • Showering and changing out of pyjamas
  • Getting outdoors every day
  • Doing some kind of physical activity
  • Eating three meals a day
  • Talking to friends or family
  • Meditating or simply checking in with how you’re feeling
  • Going to bed at a reasonable hour.

 

Find Activities That Give You Purpose

A job provides purpose and brings some sense of “meaning” for many people. When that’s gone, it can be tough to know what to do with the spare time, or where to find that meaningful engagement each day.

You might consider volunteering or joining a community club, or starting a project such as gardening or DIY renovations. Or perhaps you’d like to pick up a time-intensive hobby like learning a language or instrument. You don’t need to wait until your next job comes along to fill your days with purpose and joy.

 

Stay Connected

Fight the desire to withdraw, and reach out to your friends and family for support. Even if you pride yourself on being strong and resilient, there’s no shame in leaning on your loved ones. This can help you cope with the grief of job loss and may even reduce the amount of time you spend ruminating alone.

You might also like to stay in touch with your ex-colleagues who share your experience. Just be sure to check in with how you feel after you speak with them. There’s a fine line between sharing a healthy vent and indulging in a pity party, so if you feel down in the dumps after every interaction, it might be time to move on.

 

Create a Job-Search Plan

You’ve got to be in it to win it, so get yourself back in the game with a job-search plan. This might include the obvious steps like updating your resume and researching job vacancies, as well as using tools like Excel to track who and when you’ve sent applications.

You might find it helpful to create manageable daily or weekly job-search goals to stay on track. For example, you could aim to apply to 10 jobs and reach out to 10 connections on LinkedIn per week.

 

Losing your job is tough, and it’s normal to feel stressed, anxious, and even scared. If you need someone to talk to, our professional counsellors can provide support. Learn more about how our counselling services can help you here.