Americans are dealing with job loss right now on a scale like no other. Although there is always a certain degree of unemployment within the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the unemployment rate to shoot sky-high within less than a year. This is because a number of non-essential positions were furloughed and then, in some cases, eventually eliminated following the lockdowns in response to the pandemic. For that matter, lots of people are struggling with the fact that entire industries have been cut down or at least severely reduced in the wake of COVID-19. The travel industry and the hospitality industry, in particular, have been impacted by the virus profoundly and likely won’t be making a return to form in the near future. The pandemic may affect jobs within these fields for years to come, which means that many have not only lost their jobs but their career paths. It should come as no surprise that mental health issues often come with job loss.
However, just because there are sometimes mental health problems that come with job loss doesn’t mean that you have to accept those problems. There are plenty of ways that you can cope with job loss in a manner that is healthy and safe. Even before COVID-19, job loss was an issue, with up to 70% of all business partnerships failing and many people choosing to pursue different careers. But the fact is that there is a more intense cast to joblessness in the COVID-19 pandemic, at least in terms of mental health. With that being said, let’s look into the correlation between job loss and mental illnesses.
1. Confidence Issues
It likely doesn’t come as a surprise that losing your job may cause you to struggle with self-confidence problems. In fact, it can have a major impact on an individual’s self-image and self-esteem because it is associated with failure. Now, losing your job doesn’t necessarily have to do with actual failure. Quite often, it has nothing to do with job performance, as people are often let go due to budget cuts. Particularly in the case of COVID-19, people are being cut from their jobs even if they’re the best performers within their divisions. Their divisions just don’t exist anymore. You may find that your job is being eliminated because the entire company is going under; as 82% of businesses that fail do so due to cash flow issues, according to a U.S. Bank study, this is becoming increasingly prevalent. It’s important that you sit back and remind yourself that you are not responsible for your job loss, at least not solely. Even if your performance did have something to do with your job loss, it’s something that you can actually learn from. It’s important that you take note of the reality of your capabilities, even if that means writing them down in a list as objectively as possible. This could eventually help you boost your confidence over time.
Depression often accompanies job loss and is especially prone to do so now for several reasons. For one thing, many people are predisposed to depression without realizing it. For another, losing your job can trigger depressive symptoms more than many other life events. Your self-esteem, as discussed above, is hit hard. If you worked outside of the home, you’ll suddenly have your social interactions significantly cut down after you lose your job and will also suddenly be cut off, at least on a regular basis, from people with whom you may very well have made friends with. For that matter, you’ll be able to self-isolate far more easily, without the obligation of a job. It’s easy to feel hopeless when you’ve lost your job. It essentially forces you to start over and takes the choice away from you. You may find yourself dealing with negative self-talk, as well as weight loss or gain, a lack of interest in a lot of daily activities, and more. Everyone’s depressive symptoms are different, but you need to address them. Take walks, exercise regularly, reach out to friends and family over the phone or in-person, depending on their COVID status. Take this seriously, and if necessary, consider talking to a therapist.
3. Increased Anxiety
It’s natural to become anxious following job loss. A lot of people worry after losing their jobs. After all, though it’s highly likely that you’ll get another job within a reasonable amount of time if you apply for jobs, you won’t know what that job would be. You may stay up at night worrying, experiencing racing thoughts, or other classic hallmarks of anxiety, like tremors or hurried speech. When anxious, it’s a good idea to take long, deep breaths. Breathe in for six seconds and then out for eight. Confide in people about your worries. Focus on calming practices, like soothing tea, exercise, or a long bath. You need to give yourself a routine, as this will help you relax further.
4. Substance Abuse
If you’ve suffered from substance abuse in the past, you may be more likely to relapse due to your job loss. This is especially true if you’ve recently been recovering, as early recovery from addiction is when people are more likely to relapse. However, even those who have never struggled with addiction before may find themselves falling prey to it after they lose their jobs. One of the ways that you can best cope with addiction is finding support in friends and family or an addiction support group. Using these resources is incredibly important, as is finding a distracting hobby that could take the place of substances. Substance abuse is really about finding people who can support you.
There are so many issues that can crop up when you lose your job. The important thing is that you take the time to pay attention to your mental health and be vigilant about yourself.