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JOB LOSS AND UNEMPLOYMENT STRESS AMONG THE YOUTH (Part 2):

By Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Lawrence Robinson.

We continue to discuss ways to deal with the stress of job loss and unemployment among the youth. Our earlier article (https://www.gileadmh.com/post/job-loss-and-unemployment-stress-among-the-youth-part-1 ) highlighted the following:


1. Allow yourself to grieve

2. Reach out to stay strong

3. Involve your family for support

We now proceed to the remaining 5 ways we would like to highlight

  1. Find other ways to define yourself

For many of us, our work shapes our identities and defines who we are. After all, when you meet someone new, one of the first questions they ask is, “What do you do?” When we lose our jobs, we feel a loss of self. But it’s important to remember that being unemployed doesn’t have to define who you are as a person. It’s up to you define yourself, not the state of the economy or a company’s decision to lay you off.

  • Pursue activities that bring purpose and joy to your life. By pursuing meaningful hobbies, activities, and relationships, you can reaffirm that it’s these things define you as an individual, not your employment status. We all have different ways of experiencing meaning and joy, so choose something that’s important to you.

  • Try a new hobby that enriches your spirit or pick up a long-neglected hobby. If you’ve neglected outside activities in favor of work, now is the time to take a class, join a club, or learn something such as a foreign language or new work-related skill. At a time when money may be tight, look for events and activities that are inexpensive to attend.

  • Express yourself creatively. Write your memoirs, start a blog, take up painting or photography.

  • Spend time in nature. Work in your yard, take a scenic hike, and exercise a dog, or go fishing or camping. Spending time in nature is also a great stress reliever.

  • Volunteer. Helping others or supporting a cause that’s important to you is an excellent way to maintain a sense of meaning and purpose in your life. Volunteering can also provide career experience, social support, and networking opportunities.


  1. Get moving to relieve stress

If work commitments prevented you from exercising regularly before, it’s important to make the time now. Exercise is a powerful antidote to stress. As well as relaxing tense muscles and relieving tension in the body, exercise releases powerful endorphins to improve your mood. Trimming your waistline and improving your physique may also give your self-confidence a boost.

· Aim to exercise for 30 minutes or more per day, or break that up into short, 10-minute bursts of activity. A 10-minute walk can raise your spirits for two hours.

· Rhythmic exercise, where you move both your arms and legs, is a hugely effective way to lift your mood, increase energy, sharpen focus, and relax both the mind and body. Try walking, running, weight training, swimming, martial arts, or even dancing.

· To maximize stress relief, instead of continuing to focus on your thoughts, focus on your body and how it feels as you move: the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the wind on your skin.

  1. Eat well to keep your focus

Your diet may seem like the last thing you should concern yourself with when you’re facing the stress of losing your job and trying to make ends meet. But what you put in your body can have a huge effect on your levels of energy and positivity.

  • Minimize sugar and refined carbs. You may crave sugary snacks or comfort foods such as pasta, white bread, potatoes, or French fries, but these high-carbohydrate foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy.

  • Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine and chemical preservatives or hormones.

  • Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to give your mood a boost. The best sources are fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines), seaweed, flaxseed, and walnuts.

  • Avoid nicotine. Smoking when you’re feeling stressed may seem calming, but nicotine is a powerful stimulant, leading to higher, not lower, levels of stress and anxiety.

  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol may temporarily reduce worry, but too much can cause even greater anxiety as it wears off.

  1. Take care of yourself

The stress of job loss and unemployment can take a toll on your well-being and leave you more vulnerable to mental health problems. Now more than ever, it’s important to take care of yourself.

  • Maintain balance in your life. Don’t let your job search consume you. Make time for fun, rest, and relaxation, whatever revitalizes you. Your job search will be more effective if you are mentally, emotionally, and physically at your best.

  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep has a huge influence on your mood and productivity. Make sure you’re getting between 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. It will help you keep your stress levels under control and maintain your focus throughout your job search.

  • Practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are a powerful antidote to stress. They also boost your feelings of serenity and joy and teach you how to stay calm and collected in challenging situations, including job interviews.

  1. Stay positive to keep up your energy

If it’s taking you longer than anticipated to find work, the following tips can help you stay focused and upbeat.

  • Keep a regular daily routine. When you no longer have a job to report to every day, you can easily lose motivation. Treat your job search like a job, with a daily “start” and “end” time, with regular times for exercise and networking. Following a set schedule will help you be more efficient and productive.

  • Create a job search plan. Avoid getting overwhelmed by breaking big goals into small, manageable steps. Instead of trying to do everything at once, set priorities. If you’re not having luck in your job search, take some time to rethink your goals.

  • List your positives. Make a list of all the things you like about yourself, including skills, personality traits, accomplishments, and successes. Write down projects you’re proud of, situations where you excelled, and skills you’ve developed. Revisit this list often to remind yourself of your strengths.

  • Focus on what you can control. You can’t control how quickly a potential employer calls you back or whether or not they decide to hire you. Rather than wasting your precious energy worrying about situations that are out of your hands, turn your attention to what you can control during your unemployment, such as learning new skills, writing a great cover letter and resume, and setting up meetings with your networking contacts.

  • Help yourself to stay on task. If you’re having trouble following through with these self-help tips to cope with job loss and unemployment stress, HelpGuide’s free Emotional Intelligence Toolkit can help. By learning to manage troublesome thoughts, stress, and difficult emotions you’ll find it easier to follow through on positive intentions and regain control of your job search.

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