Struggling with unemployment? Stop comparing yourself to others

Unemployment is a struggle, to say the least. When you go from having a job to having no job at all, your life can change in all sorts of ways. All of a sudden, your days lack routine and structure. You no longer spend your day surrounded by others. And you no longer have projects to work on. For some, this can sound like a blessing in disguise.

But the hard truth, which we all know, is that unemployment is a burden. It can take a devastating toll on our self-esteem and sense of well-being, increasing the risk of a range of issues, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide.

One of the major reasons that so many people struggle with unemployment is that they fall into the trap of comparing themselves to others. Of course, it’s hard nowadays not to constantly make these social comparisons, given how prevalent social media is in our lives.

But, if you want to protect your well-being during a period of unemployment, it’s important to avoid this tendency. Here are some tips on how you can do this.


Be mindful of your social media use



When you’re unemployed, you have a lot of time on your hands. With this free time, you would ideally spend it on improving your chances of landing a job.

This might include building your skills, sprucing up your CV, diligently making job applications, and networking. But having your days free, with no one to tell what to do, can also increase your chances of procrastinating on social media.

Don’t beat yourself about it. We all do it. The danger of doing this too much when you’re unemployed, though, is that it can impact your mental health.

A YouGov survey has found that 18% of young people in the UK do not think that life is worth living. Which is an extremely disturbing statistic. The research also underscores that social media is helping to drive young people’s negative attitude towards themselves and life in general.

Just under half of those surveyed say they feel more anxious about the future when they compare themselves to others on social media. In addition, researchers noted that social media was making young people feel inadequate and putting pressure on them to succeed.

In light of these statistics, it would be wise to limit or control one’s social media usage during unemployment. Of course, social media can benefit your job search (in terms of seeing jobs posted or through networking) but when used too often or unproductively, it can worsen your mental health.


Take a reality check



Social media can make you think everyone’s life is perfect while you’re falling behind. These feelings can become even more pronounced when you’re unemployed. When you’re unemployed, you may tell yourself that you’re useless and a failure since you’re not being a productive, contributing member of society.

But this is mistaken. You don’t suddenly lose your worth as a person – as a friend, son, daughter, partner, and so on – just because you’re temporarily out of work. Your self-worth means so much more than your job.

A lot of the times when we compare ourselves to others, we simultaneously forget about all the positives in our own lives and ignore all the negatives that might be happening in the lives of others.

It’s true that not earning an income can create financial worries and make you think negatively of yourself. But even those who are working have financial worries and may struggle with the same thoughts.

Unemployment is just a particular obstacle you happen to be facing in your own life. Others will be experiencing different kinds of struggles and setbacks.

Also, most of us will have to face unemployment at some point in our lives. In order to deal with unemployment in a healthy and productive way, it’s vital to view it as a hurdle – nothing more and nothing less.

If you can build a stable sense of self-worth during unemployment, you will be able to avoid the trap of comparing yourself to others and feel confident moving forward.

Sam Woolfe writes for Inspiring Interns. He is particularly interested in self-development, psychology, mental health, and the future of work. Most of all, though, Sam is passionate about helping people find work that is meaningful and fulfilling. You can follow him on Twitter and find more of his work at


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