Unemployment affects a huge percentage of people in the United States, especially in recent years as the economy has hit a dramatic low. There are plenty of negative side effects associated with unemployment, but one of the most detrimental to a person’s attitude and mood is weight gain.
Too Much Free Time
As nice as it sounds to have hours of free time each day to do as one pleases, for those who are experiencing unemployment, after a couple weeks those free hours turn to boredom. Boredom turns to laziness and laziness sometimes turns to depression. It’s human nature to feel unmotivated when there is nothing truly pressing. For the unemployed, even if a few hours are spent each day searching for work, the rest of the time can be quite dull, culminating in time on the couch in front of the TV or even in bed.
When there is no motivation to get up each day, work out or generally be active, it is easy to gain weight. It is also easier to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. To many people, the weight gain isn’t noticeable at first. Unfortunately, it’s a negative cycle: gain weight, lose motivation; lose motivation, gain weight. Before long, they are 3 months older and 15 pounds heavier.
Research has shown that depression can directly be reflected in the weight gain of certain individuals. This is sometimes attributed to the changes in eating habits of depressed people, i.e. depression often finds people in nights home alone with a pizza, a pot of pasta or a quart of ice cream. For some people, depression affects the way their body functions. Digestion problems are sometimes linked to stress caused by depression, while slowed metabolisms can sometimes reflect depression as well.
Unemployment is a large cause for depression in many people. The feeling of being unneeded or unwanted, or not living up to certain standards set by spouses, families or individuals can cause unemployed people to become depressed with their state of being. Just this mood alone, if severe enough, can affect the way a person’s body reacts, causing them to gain weight.
The Unemployment Trap
Being unemployed for a couple months is tough. Being unemployed for a year is worse. Low motivation caused by low energy caused by overeating and minimal movement equals weight gain. When there is no structure from day to day, it is easy to lose sight of the reality of what you are eating and how much, as well as how much time you are actually spending doing absolutely nothing. Many of those experiencing unemployment have varied sleep patterns as well because they lack structure and don’t exercise during the day. This can all lead to weight gain over time as they fall into the unemployment trap.
Pulling out of the unemployment state of mind is extremely difficult, depending on how long the unemployed period lasts. It is important to stick to a routine and get plenty of rest, good foods and exercise each day in order to stave off the worrisome weight gain.