One of the most painful aspects of the coronavirus pandemic is seeing friends or loved ones lose employment as service industries and nonessential businesses close. If you or a loved one is coping emotionally with unemployment, here are five tips from financial psychology Ted Klontz and financial educator Brianne Firestone to help you stay grounded during these challenging times.
Acknowledge the emotional impact: Losing our jobs can make us feel like we’re losing a part of our identity or something we’ve previously used as a marker of our self-worth. There’s important work to do in rebuilding our sense of selves during this time, but the first step is to acknowledge how unemployment has been making you feel and why. Only when you recognize your feelings can you move forward.
Confide in someone about what you’re going through: During periods of joblessness, we usually have a lot of emotions that we need to process—and having social support helps immensely. Find someone you can get really real with about what you’re struggling with while unemployed. This isn’t about asking for job advice; it’s about asking for emotional support as you navigate an emotional and confusing time for yourself.
Understand your attachment to work: Use this time to write out a list of what you loved about your company, your job title, your daily tasks, and how those made you feel. For example, you felt seen, empowered, creative, or helpful. You can also process the things you lacked at your job and what feelings you want to experience at work and in your life more broadly. This process helps you see what the root of your attachment was and realize it can be found in other ways. From here, you can start to reclaim your identity beyond just your job title.
Find ways to feel purposeful: Although we might not realize it, part of why being employed is so important to us is because it makes us feel purposeful—like we’re doing something that matters or working toward something bigger than ourselves. Don’t wait for your next job to tap into your sense of purpose. We are living through an unprecedented situation, Klontz points out: “We don’t know what the future is going to look like.” Instead, think of what you can do right now.”
Let yourself relax: You don’t need to be productive 24/7. Being unemployed does not mean you need to spend every waking hour looking for a new job, networking, or even giving back. Let yourself take this time to take care of yourself, relax, and do the things you love to do. No guilt. No agenda, other than nurturing yourself.