Skip to main content

How to Cope With Unemployment and Underemployment

The author is QUB Political Science Hons graduate and has written extensively on the conflict in Ireland.

Unemployment doesn't need to lead to depression or a lack of motivation. You've got this!

Unemployment doesn't need to lead to depression or a lack of motivation. You've got this!

Unemployment can mean a drastic reduction in economic mobility. It may very well feel like a massive spanner has been thrown into the works, and life plans may be temporarily placed on hold.

It is all too clichéd and easy for others to say that it is "not the end of the world," but when it is happening right here, right now, to me—it is not so easy to be philosophical about it! Thankfully, there are numerous techniques that we can use to escape the dubious feelings of self-doubt and self-pity that may appear tempting companions to embrace.

Shed the Stigma

First, one must remind oneself that there is absolutely no shame or stigma attached to unemployment. People do not become unemployed because they are lazy or feckless. Instead, they are among millions who have become casualties of the global recession, which is an inevitable consequence of the capitalist system.

Cutting yourself some slack and refraining from beating yourself up is an important part of dealing with any challenge. Treat unemployment as a blip in life, and remember that you are far from alone.

Once you have sorted out any financial and welfare benefits that you may be entitled to and taken action toward seeking fresh employment, two of the biggest problems you face may be boredom and lack of motivation.

The old saying that a problem shared is a problem halved sounds clichéd, but it is true that making others aware that you are feeling down is a key part of acceptance, and doing so is a much more effective start to problem-solving than suffering in silence.

Take Action

The stark reality is that taking action leads to increased motivation. Rarely does this happen vice-versa. If only! Every survival guide ever written stresses the importance of keeping your mind occupied and your hands busy.

Keeping active is the key to avoiding feelings of worthlessness during unemployment, and it is no surprise that there is a correlation between inactivity and clinical depression. Treat unemployment as a break from your regular work and an opportunity to pursue activities that you never previously had the time for.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Toughnickel

Take Care of Your Basic Needs

Remember your survival basics. Keep the acronym H.A.L.T.T. in mind. Do not allow yourself to become too . . .

  • Hungry,
  • Angry,
  • Lonely,
  • Thirsty, or
  • Tired.

Adhering to and remembering the H.A.L.T.T basics can go a long way when it comes to maintaining your emotional equilibrium and staying on an even keel mentally. Taking up a new sport or keep-fit activity need not be expensive; basic exercises like jogging or walking cost virtually nothing.

No one has ever felt worse or more depressed after spending time exercising! This may be due partially to the release of powerful feel-good neurotransmitters during or after exercise. It makes sense to avail of these free doses of natural mood boosters.

Exercise Your Body and Explore Your Hobbies

Exploring other hobbies, sports or pastimes may keep depression at bay and may also actually earn you some much-needed spending money. Many websites, including, pay for your writing or your expert advice. You will not become an overnight millionaire, but you can generate income online if you look in the right places.

Your skills have not been lessened because you are not employed full-time, and new past times can also lead to new employment opportunities. Bear in mind that your spare time is a commodity, so someone might be only too happy to pay for it or reward you in some other way. Spare time and just a little effort can be used positively to network with others, build stronger relationships with family members, and possibly take steps toward re-employment.

Good Luck!

Positive management of free time is the key to surviving unemployment and avoiding depression. Well-managed free time can turn unemployment into a less-than-negative experience, which, in retrospect, will seem like a minor hurdle once one reenters the world of work.

A basic observance of key survival principles will prevent overwhelming feelings of depression during unemployment and help to make it a less soul-sapping experience. Like any unpleasant experience, a period of unemployment can be coped with, and one can emerge at the other end relatively unscathed emotionally. There is hope!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Liam A Ryan

Related Articles