During the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees experienced job loss or were furloughed unexpectedly in the US. Yet, jobs are starting to bounce back – with 17 million jobs being added back into the economy. While millions still remain underemployed, people are starting to find work again. The long-term effects of unemployment can be catastrophic, financially and psychologically. But, recent research shows that short-term unemployment might have some positive psychological benefits that counterbalance the negativity If you have or might experience short-term unemployment, read on to find out how to ensure you get these benefits.
Job Loss is Generally Bad for Health
First, we want to make it very clear that we aren’t making light of job loss. Reviews of the literature show that job loss has many negative effects that can threaten employees’ well-being. Losing a job can cause employees to experience financial stress and loss of health benefits. It can also lead to declines in psychological and physical well-being. Job loss can disrupt employees’ home lives and cause them to withdraw from others.
Specific to physical and mental health, unemployment has been related to depression, anxiety, headaches, and stomach aches. Meta-analyses have found that clinical distress is twice as high in unemployed individuals compared to employed people. Life satisfaction and job satisfaction can also decrease. Taken together, losing a job is very stressful and employers should take these impacts seriously as they make decisions about their business.
Are There Any Benefits to Job Loss?
While we wish that no one would ever have to lose their job, it is sometimes unavoidable. If you do lose your job, recent research shows that there may be some things that you can do to mitigate the negative effects. Human beings need to replenish their resources as they exhaust them. Losing a job exhausts resources. So, you need to do things to regain those resources in order to ensure you’re not going burn out.
Recent research shows that recovery matters in mitigating these negative outcomes. In their work, recovery was found in the form of relaxation, mastery, or exercise. We have talked about the benefits of recovery before. Relaxation entails sitting indoors or outdoors, watching TV, or just laying back. Mastery involves improving a skill that matters to you, like video games or knitting. Finally, exercise is engaging in moderate cardio for 30 minutes or more. Interestingly, during times of job loss, they found relaxation was most key to decreasing negative mood and health symptoms.
What Should You Do if You Lose Your Job?
Based on this research, we know that losing a job is stressful. You should definitely use your time wisely and continue applying for new jobs. Finding a job will help you to feel even better than engaging in relaxation without a job. But, it may be unrealistic that you’ll find a job right away.
During your down time, you should try to relax when you can. Disconnect from the job search when you can. Spend time with people you care about. Watch some TV. Don’t worry about getting better at a skill for right now. Just sit back and try to take advantage of the fact that you do have more free time than usual. While losing a job is stressful, you can make up for some of that stress by surrounding yourself with people you love and engaging in healing activities.