Unemployment Stress: Causes, Symptoms, and Coping Strategies

Unemployment stress is a growing issue that affects many individuals, leading to negativity, tension, and a diminished sense of self-worth. When faced with desperation, some people resort to misguided approaches, such as deceiving others, which ultimately results in legal consequences, despite their own capabilities.

Current situation of unemployment

According to the latest report as of July 2022, the total number of individuals aged 15 and above in the labor force has reached 51.6 million, an increase of 0.4 million compared to the previous quarter and 0.6 million compared to the same period last year, encompassing both genders and urban/rural areas. Increasing the employment rate and providing job opportunities for the population is a crucial objective and responsibility of the country.

However, alongside that, the unemployment rate still remains significant in both rural and urban areas. Just in the statistics from the end of 2021, there were 1.4 million people without jobs. This number has shown a decreasing trend in 2022 but still remains substantial. Specifically, the unemployment rate tends to be much higher in urban areas compared to rural areas.

Unemployment stress is a major issue affecting many individuals from all backgrounds. Particularly in the year 2021, during the powerful outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the year, many people experienced unemployment and job loss, including both manual laborers and office administrative workers.

There are numerous factors contributing to the issue of unemployment, not only related to skills and qualifications but also individual characteristics, perceptions, and needs. For instance, some individuals may lack the necessary qualifications or knowledge for certain jobs, while others with low capabilities demand high-paying and easy jobs, making it difficult to find suitable employment.

Furthermore, some unemployed individuals may be hindered by their dependency on others or face challenges due to physical disabilities or impairments, even if they possess adequate awareness. Unemployment stress can intensify for these individuals, leading to increased tension, pressure, and despair.

Inflexible and resistant personalities that resist change also contribute to difficulties in finding employment. Currently, certain popular fields, such as the banking sector, attract a large number of young people to pursue careers in these areas, resulting in an oversupply of qualified candidates compared to available job opportunities. The common occurrence of individuals holding bachelor’s degrees while remaining unemployed is prevalent nowadays.

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In general, there are numerous reasons for the current high unemployment rates, inevitably accompanied by stress, tension, melancholy, and even mental health issues for those unable to find employment. This is a concerning reality that requires swift resolution to prevent detrimental consequences for individuals and society as a whole.

Unemployment and its causes of stress

Individuals go through various stages in life to mature, succeed, and achieve their aspirations. Working and dedicating oneself to a job is one crucial stage that cannot be overlooked in every person’s life. Employment serves not only as a means to earn a living but also as an opportunity for personal growth, learning, and daily development.

Even those regarded as “wealthy” or “millionaires” continue to work diligently every day because work provides meaning to their lives. Working is a natural and fundamental aspect of life and society. Therefore, experiencing stress due to unemployment when one fails to meet these societal milestones is quite understandable.

Moreover, there are many factors that contribute to the stress of unemployment. For instance:

Financial hardships

This is a significant factor that leads many individuals to experience stress, exhaustion, anxiety, and unemployment-related stress. While some individuals may have been financially supported by their parents during their education, there comes a point where they must become self-reliant and cannot rely on continuous financial assistance. Being jobless means lacking a source of income to support oneself. Without savings, individuals may face severe financial difficulties.

Stress due to unemployment

Financial scarcity causes many people to face difficulties in their daily lives.

Many people go to work not only to support themselves but also to provide for their families, parents, spouses, and children. If a person has no income, the entire family will suffer from hunger and face additional burdens that lead to extreme psychological stress and constant stress.

Due to financial constraints, many people in this period have to borrow money but still cannot find employment, exacerbating the severity of unemployment stress. This is a common phenomenon nowadays, where some people stay at home and borrow money for expenses but are unable to repay their debts, resulting in a substantial amount of accumulated interest.

Unemployment stress due to peer pressure

When you see people around you working, earning a large income, being able to buy houses and cars while you are still wandering, handing out job applications everywhere, it’s natural to feel sad. Peer pressure diminishes your self-esteem, makes you feel inadequate, worthless, and increases the level of unemployment stress.

Indeed, when you are still struggling, unsure of what to do, lacking direction in the future, uncertain whether a job is suitable for you or not, without stable employment while others have become directors or entrepreneurs, it’s hard not to experience feelings of insecurity. Peer pressure combined with unemployment stress tends to make people isolate themselves and become more negative.

Pressure from family

Unemployment stress caused by family pressure is a problem that many people encounter. In reality, finding a job that aligns with one’s abilities and desires is not easy, so it is normal for many individuals to be unemployed despite having knowledge and qualifications. However, family members often exert a lot of pressure, using hurtful words to criticize, belittle, and demand money, which leaves these individuals feeling exhausted.

Stress due to unemployment

Many people have to work and earn money not only for themselves but also for their families.

In addition, individuals who are married, especially men, are highly susceptible to unemployment stress if they don’t have a job. Once they have a family, they have the responsibility to care for their loved ones and provide them with the best and necessary things. Therefore, the lack of income always leads them to self-blame and a sense of personal guilt.

Other factors

Living alone, introverted personality, or being overly sensitive are also contributing factors that increase the risk of unemployment stress in many individuals. For example, many people tend to isolate themselves, not leaving their rooms, confined within four walls, not consuming a nutritious diet, which further contributes to their negative mental state.

Unemployment stress makes many people feel sad, exhausted, but due to their introverted nature, they don’t share their feelings with anyone. They internalize the negativity and self-blame even more. Also, due to the reluctance to share with others and feeling embarrassed among friends, these individuals tend to isolate themselves.

Unemployment stress and its consequences

Stress often accompanies various psychological issues such as irritability, easy agitation, difficulty in controlling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, which tend to lean towards negativity. This can be one of the factors that hinder them from finding suitable employment, maintaining long-term work, and may lead to faster job turnover than usual.

Stress due to unemployment

Prolonged unemployment-related stress can lead to depression in many individuals.

The academic achievements and qualifications of an individual when applying for a job are undoubtedly important, but their attitude and ability to adapt in various situations are equally crucial. Even if someone has excellent academic credentials, having a gloomy appearance, a negative temperament, and poor problem-solving skills will significantly limit their employment opportunities to avoid impacting the company.

On the other hand, unemployment stress can be a contributing factor to depression in many individuals. Constant self-blame, diminished self-esteem, pressure from those around them, and a sense of personal inadequacy can cause the spirits of many to decline. Sleep deprivation, restless thoughts about finding a job, and reproachful remarks from others create a gloomy and exhausting life for the unemployed.

A considerable number of individuals, after prolonged periods of unemployment and financial hardship, resort to borrowing money, often at high interest rates, to sustain their lives. When they become overwhelmed by mounting debt, unable to repay both the principal and interest, they may resort to negative and deviant behaviors to solve their problems, such as fraud, theft, and falling into a cycle of legal troubles.

Many people, due to extended unemployment and an inability to seek assistance, make misguided choices and compromise their own values. Driven by the need for money, they may engage in various unethical actions to address their current difficulties and regain personal dignity. Eventually, when their actions are discovered, it becomes too late for regrets.

How to overcome unemployment stress?

The state of confusion, panic, negativity, and self-doubt when faced with unemployment while seeing friends and those around you succeeding is difficult to avoid. However, when you accept and perceive reality from a different perspective, you can easily overcome these challenges.

Remain calm and think positively.

If you constantly worry about when you will find a job, whether the job is suitable for you, or if others look down upon you, it will only add to your unemployment stress without resolving any issues. What you need to do right now is to genuinely stay calm, enabling you to view the problem from different angles and find appropriate solutions.

Stress due to unemployment

View the period of unemployment as a beneficial personal retreat rather than seeing it in a negative light.

Instead of viewing unemployment as something terrifying and trying to avoid it, why don’t you consider it as a vacation, a period of relaxation and recharging before stepping into a series of stressful working days? Certainly, when you start working, you will be extremely busy, so take advantage of this extended break even if you don’t know when it will end.

Take deep breaths and adopting a positive perspective will help you gain a clear understanding of the challenges you are facing and find ways to gradually solve them. When you remain calm, your mind becomes clearer, and your positive mindset can attract employers, gradually relieving the stress of unemployment.

Assess your own issues.

Instead of sitting around complaining, feeling discouraged, and stressing over unemployment, why don’t you take a look at all the problems and search for reasons why you haven’t been able to find a job? Is it due to shortcomings in your skills, attitude, or perhaps because you have set your expectations too high? Evaluating these aspects will help you identify and address any deficiencies, preparing you for a more successful upcoming job interview.

For example, if you aspire to work in a customer-facing role but your language skills are poor, it will undoubtedly be a drawback. Or if you have qualifications and abilities but lack effective communication skills, appearing hesitant in front of potential employers, they will have valid reasons not to trust and select you.

In particular, even if you have excellent academic qualifications, if you lack practical experience and hands-on skills, you cannot demand the same salary as someone who has been working for 2-3 years. Many young graduates nowadays often demand high salaries and preferential treatment, leading to an extended period of being unable to find desirable job opportunities.

Lowering your own expectations sometimes becomes necessary for many individuals experiencing stress due to unemployment. Especially if you lack experience, consider this as a necessary period for learning and building confidence. On the other hand, it’s evident that having a slightly lower salary is still a more optimistic choice compared to having no income to cover your expenses due to unemployment.

Set clear directions to address unemployment stress

After a prolonged period of unemployment, many people tend to opt for any available job that deviates from their original plans to quickly secure employment. For example, many individuals who studied IT or became teachers end up choosing sales positions just because they are easier to find. However, due to the lack of interest and expertise, they quickly resign and return to the prolonged cycle of unemployment stress.

Stress due to unemployment

Outline clear plans and goals to ensure that the job search process stays on the right track.

To minimize the recurrence of this situation, you should have a long-term plan and understand what you need and want, instead of just having a temporary plan. For instance, consider the field you want to work in, its potential for growth, and whether it aligns with your long-term aspirations. Before applying for a job in a company, take the time to research the company’s culture and the values it promotes, rather than mindlessly sending out CVs, which can be time-consuming.

In case you genuinely cannot find a job that meets your requirements, you can consider seeking temporary part-time jobs while you wait. Options like translation, writing, online sales, or managing social media pages can be suitable choices to explore.

Make the most of your free time

The more idle time you have, the more negative thoughts tend to occupy your mind, making it easier to blame yourself. Therefore, even though you consider the period of unemployment as an extended vacation, make the most of it. In addition to dedicating time to job searching and attending interviews, seize the opportunity to learn, enhance your knowledge, and develop new skills. This can also leave a stronger impression on potential employers.

For example, you can utilize your time at home to learn a foreign language or acquire additional skills related to your desired job field within your capabilities. If you aspire to work in IT, you can learn coding, familiarize yourself with concepts and necessary knowledge. In reality, there is never such a thing as too much knowledge, so strive to expand your expertise as much as possible.

Alongside enhancing your capabilities and education, focus on improving your communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and physical well-being to address the stress of unemployment. A positive and cheerful demeanor, along with effective and engaging communication, and remaining calm in any situation, will always be more appealing and leave a better impression.

Seek assistance if necessary

Seeking assistance can encompass emotional support, job-related help, and even financial aid. If you lack a job and face financial constraints, reach out to your family, parents, or spouse/partner instead of indiscriminately borrowing money from various sources. Clearly communicate the difficulties you are facing to your family, explaining why you haven’t been able to secure a stable job, so they can trust and support you more effectively.

Stress due to unemployment

Seek support from the people around you in terms of work, finances, or emotional well-being instead of engaging in inappropriate behaviors.

On the other hand, you can also utilize your relationships to seek job opportunities. Don’t be shy or embarrassed because this is the time when you genuinely need help. Moreover, almost everyone has experienced difficulties in finding a job at some point, so nobody will mock you for being unemployed. Great friends will always provide useful advice to help you overcome the stress of unemployment as quickly as possible.

As an adult, it’s important to live independently, and nearly everyone has gone through challenging times and experienced stress due to unemployment. To overcome and avoid this risk, individuals need to not only enhance their skills and capabilities but also develop both hard and soft skills to handle any situation that arises. Understanding what you need and want, and having a clear direction for career development right from the beginning, is crucial.

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