Fighting Depression During the Job Search

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Yes, job searching can be a real bear of a time. The longer you are unemployed, the more stressful things can be, and that can play havoc with your emotions. Depression can set in, and greatly hinder your job search success. A few weeks ago I wrote the article You Can’t Let It Get You Down looking at this topic from a slightly different angle. I would like to continue the thought process in this second part, giving some suggested ways to beat the blues and stay the course during this rough time in life.

As a brief recap, in the earlier article we looked at the importance of staying positive, looking for negative thought patterns and eradicating them, and focusing on the task at hand to help stay motivated and conquer these emotional barriers that tend to crop up.

When it comes to being in job search mode for a long time, the first thing that you need to be aware of when it comes to the topic of depression is that it should be expected. Situational depression is a term used by psychologists and is common for most everyone when involved in long term discouraging situations. Add to that the stress that comes with being unemployed and the expectation of depression is even surer. Knowing it is coming, and watching for signs of it, is helpful in fighting against it.

Keeping active is one way to keep those blues away. Turn your job search into your job, spending a good amount of your day involved in some manner of work-related tasks. This could be not only finding and contacting new job leads, but could also include reading books or online articles about current happenings in your field in order to stay up to date. It could also mean pursuing some additional training through free online tutorials or work. The goal is to stay focused on job related material in order to keep your mind engaged and keep negative thoughts out. When that inner voice is saying “give up” and you feel like just lounging around, watching TV or some other unproductive task, then snap out of it and “force yourself to take the first step towards that day’s job search activities - research a company, work on your resume, make a networking call,” suggests Marie McIntyre in Fighting the “Job Search Blues.”

Another way to keep busy in both mind and body is to exercise. While most people dread exercising, and if you are already being beset by a little depression, you may have increased negative thoughts towards it. But in reality, exercising causes a chemical reaction in the brain that actually lifts your mood to a positive place. So not only is it good for you health-wise, but also good psychologically. So, get active – walk, run, bike, whatever you best enjoy.

It is also important to not become reclusive and a loner during this time, as it only adds to the depression factor. Get out and be social with friends. You do not always have to spend money in order to be social, just spend time with friends and family doing mood lifting activities. Other ways to be social and be in a work-related frame of mind is to find volunteer opportunities where you can use your skills to help others. This not only lets you interact with others, but gives you tasks to do that keep you in a motivated job-mode. Depending on the tasks you complete, you may also be able to include that time and achievements on your résumé, as well as add the company as a reference.

During this tough time, watch your mouth and mind, and seek to clean out all negative self-talk from your language and thoughts, as it does nothing but drag you down. Instead of letting that kind of language in, “focus on the positive things you are doing, have done in the past, and so on,” states Mark Lynch in his article How You Can Instantly Boost Your Confidence. He continues on saying, “I’ve found those who live in the past (and focus on negative experiences) will always feel regret.” These are the things that drag you down and let depression in, and should be fought against in order to stay productive.

I especially appreciate the story that Lynch went on to mention in closing, and will share it in closing myself:

I once asked a life coach for advice about the times when I was feeling down, unproductive, stuck, etc. All he said was ‘STOP’ and refocus your energy on the spot. It’s a simple concept, but must be practiced over and over! Once it becomes routine to catch yourself and stop negativity, you can instantly shift your thoughts (and how you feel) into actions that can change your life and help you present the best possible you to the world!

If you do not learn to refocus you will inadvertently let depression and negative thoughts creep in and destroy almost all efforts to be productive in your job search, prolonging this already frustrating time in life.

Image courtesy of Phaltoon at


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