MSNBC.com had a small article on this study today: Job Loss Greatly Increases Risk of Premature Death, Especially in Men
As someone who was unemployed for six months, I can 100% back up these results. When I was unemployed, I was working out regularly because going to the gym gave me a reason to get out of bed and something to do to fill my time. I was in great shape, but in no way was I feeling stronger and healthier.
I try to tell people all the time that if you have never been unemployed, then you have no idea what it’s like. The worst thing about being unemployed is not the lack of a paycheck, unless you have a family to support. I didn’t, so I was far more fortunate than millions of others. For me, I can say that it sucks to be on a tight budget and not be able to shop, travel, go to dinner with friends or save money for future plans. But far worse than that is the feeling of worthlessness and loneliness. It feels like everyone else is part of an exclusive club, and you’re not. You spend your days trying to join the club, only to be rejected countless times through bypassed applications and fruitless interviews.
Unemployment killed my last relationship. It was a relationship that I thought could withstand anything. All I could think about was how sad I was, how I would give anything to get my career back on track, and how much I resented him for not understanding how lonely I was when he was at work. You may have noticed that I said “I” a number of times in that last sentence. My thoughts were completely on me. There’s no “I” in “we,” so eventually, there was no “us” either.
The point of this column was really just to say that I can whole-heartedly agree with the findings of this study. However, I don’t want to be a total downer, and I’m here to offer some words of wisdom and encouragement. If you do find yourself unemployed, don’t focus on what’s making you sad. Steer your thoughts to what makes you happy.
Whatever you do, don’t turn on daytime TV. Trust me on this one. A steady dose of Dr. Phil, Maury, Tyra, and Judge Judy will only heighten your depression, paranoia and psychosis. On the other hand, their trashy guests may make you feel a bit better about yourself, that you’re not THAT messed up.
But really, get away from the TV and think about when you were sitting at your desk all day. Where did you want to be? What would you have rather been doing? Guess what – you now have the time to do it! Train for a 5K or even a marathon, start a blog, learn another language or skill, read a classic novel, try new recipes… things you may have always told yourself you wanted to do. Make goals or resolutions that you can actually accomplish. Achievement is a great confidence booster. I know it is incredibly difficult because you feel so isolated, but try to stay open, loving, kind and caring. This is coming from someone who harbored a lot of bitterness and resentment. I am just sharing my experiences because the economy is in terrible shape right now, and I just hope a lot of those without jobs have a better attitude and outlook than I did. I would do things completely different now.
After all, you only get one life, and according to this study, unemployment makes it even shorter!
P.S. I probably don’t have to point out the irony, but the study is talking about health hazards for the unemployed… a.k.a., those without health insurance! It is a vicious cycle.