Looking after your mental health when you’re out of work

While you’re out of work, there are some simple practices you can adopt to make this period of your life much easier for yourself and your family.

Developing a sense of self

‘What do you do?’ is a question you’re probably asked when you meet someone new.

When you’re out of work, you might wonder how to answer that question. It’s something that lots of people find difficult if they’re in between jobs, and they’re worried about how other people will think of them. Getting used to giving different answers is part of getting used to a job loss.

And once you’ve come up with some answers for yourself, you get to know that you aren’t just defined by the job you do. You’re also a lot of other things away from your job: a parent, child, mentor, volunteer, and of course yourself. After all, you’re still the same person whether you’re working or not.

Try asking yourself these questions to help you learn more about yourself away from work:

What are you good at?

Remind yourself that outside of work, you’re good at other things too. And those things you’re good at often make you valuable to others – things like being good at making your kids laugh. If you’re not sure what you’re good at, ask people who know you well.

It’s okay to feel like a part of your life is missing when you’re out of work. It’s something you usually spend a lot of your time doing. It’s not the whole picture of you, though.

What do you like to do?

What people do for a job is one thing, but what they enjoy doing is often a more interesting thing to chat about.

What are those things that light you up? If someone asks what you do and you’re not comfortable talking about your job loss, try switching the focus to talk about your interests instead.

You can get a real sense of satisfaction by doing things you enjoy. Maybe you can also do more of those hobbies you love while you’re out of work, to help you feel more positive about your situation.

Staying connected

It’s true that a problem shared is a problem halved.

Dealing with a job loss can be a big stress in your life. You can lean on your friends and family, and they can help you stay healthy, happy and positive. They can listen to your worries, do something practical that will help, or even just distract you from it. Either way, it’s time to connect with all those great people in your life – or reconnect/start a connection with someone you’d like to bring closer.

Think about who you want around you

Have a good look around you. Who’s there? Who makes you feel great to be around? Who are your greatest supporters when times are tough? And who cheers you along when things are going well? Write their names down if it helps.

There are people in your life who are really positive, helpful and willing to listen. There are other people who you don’t feel so comfortable letting down your guard with. Choose who you surround yourself with during this stressful time, focusing on the people who make you feel good, who you know won’t judge you, and who will help you make good decisions.

Speak up and make some plans

If you can think of some things that could help you feel better, let your friends and family know. That could mean asking for practical help – maybe you could ask a friend to help you with your resume, or suggest catching up on the weekend to take your mind off things.

If you make plans to catch up with your mates, then it’s more likely to happen. So instead of saying you should catch up ‘some time’, try asking if they’re free on a particular day.


Not sure where to start? Our workplace mental health experts are here to help you.

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