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How to Cope with Job Search Depression


1/30/2012 4:41:40 PM

By Angela Rose, BioSpace.com

When you become collateral damage in a merger, acquisition or restructuring, or lose your job due to budget cutbacks, your world is turned upside down. You feel disoriented –perhaps as though you’re living in a nightmare from which you cannot awake. You wonder, “How could this happen to me?”

Losing a job is naturally a difficult experience. You’re hurt and disillusioned. You’re anxious about the future. You need time to grieve and process the experience, but you also have bills that must be paid. As a result, many professionals get down to business, hunting for their next job, and bury their emotions concerning the experience in the deepest recesses of their minds. Unfortunately, as the search stretches from days into weeks, and weeks into months, these emotions fester –and may lead to depression.

If you’re experiencing job search depression, there are ways to cope. Consider the following simple things you can do to raise your spirits and find some peace during this difficult transition period.

Create a routine.
After the paycheck, the next most missed aspect of employment cited by job searchers is their former daily routine. A routine yields a sense of structure. There’s less to worry about when you know what’s going to happen at any given hour of any given workday. If you’re missing this structure, you can create it. Get up at the same time each day. Exercise at the same time each day. Shower and dress as you would if going to the office. Set certain hours aside for your job search. Reserve others for relaxation.

Confide in your emotional support network.
You don’t have to put on a constant brave face. Talking about grief, anger and anxiety with your friends and family can help. However, do so privately. Don’t turn your Facebook page and Twitter feed into venues for negative posts and tweets about your job search. Social media is not private, and you may turn off a potential employer (or someone who could put you in touch with a potential employer). Besides, wallowing in negativity is not the same as coping.

Give yourself a break.
You do not have to search for a job every minute of every day. Your job search does not need to be the topic of every conversation. Give yourself a break, whether a few hours each day or a few days each week, where you put it out of your mind entirely. Participate in activities where thinking becomes impossible. Complete a brutal CrossFit workout. Sprint up a hill. Get lost in a truly engrossing book or movie.

Laugh as often as possible.
A study from Oxford University revealed that laughter actually triggers a release of endorphins in our bodies. Endorphins are chemicals, produced by our brains, that can reduce pain, make us feel happy, lower our blood pressure, and deliver a host of other health benefits. So call your funniest friend. Watch clips of your favorite stand-up comic. Or visit hilarious websites such as cuteoverload.com and icanhascheezburger.com whenever you start to feel depression creeping in.

Mild job search depression is normal and may include feelings of sadness, loneliness, and some difficulty concentrating. However, if these feelings worsen, or begin to affect your ability to function, seek the help of a qualified medical professional.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.

Check out the latest Career Insider eNewsletter - February 2, 2012.

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