Psychologists have been studying the effects of unemployment on mental health for decades – in fact, even as far back as 1938, Eisenberg and Lazarsfeld concluded that “unemployment tends to make people more emotionally unstable than they were previous to unemployment.”

Unfortunately, this is just as poignant today in the wake of the current pandemic. Uncertainty and a competitive landscape undoubtedly add to this angst, so it’s understandable that you might feel a loss of identity or sense of purpose at the moment, with no clear path of where to go next.

Now more than ever, it’s essential to take back control and make time for self-care as you navigate this stressful period. With this in mind, we’ve put together some points to remember whilst job searching – we hope you find them useful!

1. Structure your week and include time out

Job hunting 24/7 can be draining and demoralising. Figure out when you work best and set ‘work hours’ where you can be productive and focused, then plan out dedicated downtime around this to do activities you enjoy. It may be tempting to work overtime but this can actually be counterproductive and lead to burnout – give yourself a break and you’ll be better equipped to bounce back feeling refreshed and recharged.

2. Take care of your physical and mental health

As best-selling author and Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg asserts, “meditation trains the mind the way physical exercise strengthens the body.” Maintaining a balance of relaxation and exercise will play a big part in feeling positive and motivated, and in both cases, these activities don’t need to involve spending a lot of money. Cycling, running, walking, or even just stretching where you can is highly effective when used in combination with meditation (there are lots of great apps for this, including The Mindfulness App, Headspace and Calm). Diet also makes a difference – it’s easy to want to indulge in comfort food or alcohol but your body and brain will thank you for maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.

3. Reach out to others

You are not alone. Many people will have found themselves out of work in the past and it’s always surprising how many people are more than willing to help others, so reach out to every possible part of your network (however daunting it may be!) As soon as you strike up a few conversations, you might be surprised at how much people in your community understand what you’re going through and can offer support. And remember, if you are struggling, others around you may be too – assume the best in others and offer help and support in return where you can.

Here are some other practical job searching tips that you may find useful in your search!

4. Maintain perspective

The pandemic is not only affecting the lives of individuals, it’s also causing companies around the world to make difficult staffing decisions. Put simply, redundancy is not a reflection on your worth. It’s important to accept these feelings, recognise their validity, and know that you are not alone in feeling them. How ‘essential’ you are to the business is about your role, not you – don’t let it negatively impact the way you view yourself.

5. Learn from rejection

When you’re applying for multiple roles, hearing “no” will very likely be a part of the process, but don’t let it hold you back (as discouraging as it may be). Seek feedback where you can, and actively embrace what you receive as a learning opportunity to bring you closer to your end goal.

In the most recent instalment of the Mental Health Foundation’s survey on ‘Mental Health in the Pandemic’, one in five unemployed people reported experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, the right course of action for your personal wellbeing is to seek professional help, and that’s ok. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one in these difficult times, these organisations and support groups are just a few options for receiving expert advice and support: