The news recently reported that 23 million Americans are currently unemployed or underemployed. 23 million people!! Think about that number for a moment. What's the population of the state you reside in?
Let me give you a quick population picture from the US Census Bureau (as of 2011), for you to compare that number to:
- Pennsylvania - 12.7 million
- Oregon - 3.8 million
- Oklahoma - 3.7 million
- Illinois - 12.8 million
- Texas - 25.6 million
- California - 37.6 million
- New York - 19.4 million
- Colorado - 5.1 million
- Nevada - 2.7 million
- Florida - 19 million
Are you in shock? I am! How many states listed above could add up to 23 million people out of work? Look at the big states. Nearly the entire state of Texas could fit the bill of 23 million unemployed. Scary stuff!
If you or your spouse happen to be one of those 23 million Americans, please know my heart goes out to you, I'm praying for you, and I do understand what you're going through.
About 4 months ago my husband fell into that ugly statistic…and he had been out of work for three years at that point! Yep, you read that right.
Despite how smart, highly educated, or white collar he was, my husband couldn't find anyone even remotely interested in interviewing him for most of the long three years he was out of work. Depression was a daily challenge for him.
And it is for so many other Americans as well.
The economy sucks and our nation is horribly depressed.
Did you know studies show unemployment and underemployment to be major risk factors for depression?
What's worse is the vicious cycle we get into with depression and unemployment. I saw it with my own husband.
It looks something like this:
The more rejection, the worse the depression and low self esteem, which only makes being a strong interviewee more difficult. The more down in the dumps my husband got, the more I fed on his mood and fell victim to depression myself.
What does depression look like?
The signs and symptoms are different for everyone, but you might see one or all of the following in yourself or your unemployed spouse:
- Inability to concentrate
- Excessive exhaustion
- Feeling worthless
- Irritability and lack of patience
- Loss of interest in activities normally enjoyed
- Anxiety or panic
- Over eating or loss of appetite
How Can You or Your Spouse Fight Unemployment Related Depression?
Pray and Dig Into God's Word.
Make time every day to get into the word of God. Study it. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Be sure to also give time to the Lord in heartfelt prayer. Get up early before the family, if you need to. Pray for each other. (Here's a free prayer guide.) Keep a prayer journal handy so your prayers will stay focused. Then quiet your mind. Don't let it wander off to distant places. Tune into God. Listen. This takes practice and lots of mental discipline. Use soft instrumental music if you need to. Sit and listen for the Holy Spirit to prompt you or place ideas, words, or thoughts on your heart.
Get Into a Daily Routine.
You know…like the routine that was there during employment. Get up with the alarm clock. Take a shower. Get ready for the day. Work at your job search. Do productive activities around the home. Make good use of the extra free time. Keep busy. Go to bed at a reasonable hour.
Get Some Sunshine and Fresh Air.
Sunshine and fresh air can make a huge difference in our mental state. Get outside and breathe. Go for a walk. Do some gardening. Write in a journal while sitting on the patio. Read a book in a shady spot on the grass. Have a water fight with your spouse. It really doesn't matter what you do as long as you're outdoors breathing deeply and soaking up some good old fashioned vitamin D.
If you've read anything from me, whether blog posts or from my book, you know I'm a big advocate of exercise during tough times. There is something very healing about burning off all the aggression and emotion, not to mention the flow of endorphins which help enhance mood. Whether you enjoy exercise or not, make a commitment to do it and do it regularly. Speaking of doing it, sex counts as exercise and is equally good for you.
Keep Track of Accomplishments.
This may seem a little bit preschool, but having a visual aid of the things needing to be done and those that have already been accomplished helps fuel further productivity. Few things are as satisfying as being able to check one more thing off as completed on a To Do list. It will also help fight feelings of worthlessness. So if making a big wall chart and checking off things as you go is helpful, than do it! It doesn't matter how you track accomplishments either. Do what works for you. And if you're able to, reward yourself with something fun or a favorite treat after achieving big hurdles.
Count Your Blessings.
Instead of focusing on what you don't have or the financial disaster of unemployment, look for things in your life to be grateful for. Take the Ann Voskamp 1000 Gifts challenge. Get your family involved so everyone is seeking joy over sorrow. Try to add at least three gifts or blessings in your life to the list every day. In fact, try it right now. Stop and look around. I'll bet you can find at least two things to be grateful for right away.
Talk to your Pastor.
Have you discussed what you're going through with your Pastor? If not, now is the time to do so. They are trained to be great listeners and have the knowledge to minister to your fears. They will also pray with you, right then and there which is so comforting. Try not to worry about sharing personal, private details about your life. A good Pastor will not discuss your information with anyone else and will often check in with you periodically to see how you're doing.
*Disclaimer - The ideas mentioned above are only meant to be helpful suggestions. If you feel thoughts of suicide or hurting others, seek medical help as soon as possible. I am not a doctor, nor am I qualified to give medical advice. These methods helped me and my husband cope with depression related to his unemployment, but would not have prevented us from seeing a doctor if it had become severe.