Having a community is important to your health, happiness and well being. “There are few better antidotes to unhappiness than close friendships with people who care about you”, says David G. Myers, author of “The Pursuit of Happiness”.

"Sadly, our increasingly individualistic society suffers from impoverished social connections, which some psychologists believe is a cause of today's epidemic levels of depression," Myers writes. "The social ties that bind also provide support in difficult times."

What could be a more difficult time than when someone loses a job? It is then that people tend to look for others to support them.

Will your support network be there for you?

Over the years many of my job search clients have admitted that their close friends all came from the place that they work. After the layoff they felt disconnected from those friends. This made their job loss even more painful.

People whose job situation requires they spend many hours at work often have no time to look for friends outside their firm. It takes time and energy to build a relationship that develops into a friendship. People working long hours have little extra time for a life outside the office. Still for your health and well being it is an important priority.

You can build friendships with people at work but usually those friendships depend on work issues and people for a conversation topic. Your work friends and you can laugh and talk about situations at work but how much do you have in common otherwise.

When you leave a company those people who remain may be cordial but now you are not included in their spur of the moment lunch get togethers or plans to see a movie on the weekend. Not only have you just lost your job but a whole community as well. Often what clients tell me they miss most about their job is the camaraderie of the office.

Where can you be yourself?

It is very important to have a community that is not dependent on your work situation. You want to have people who are close to you, whom you trust and with whom you can be your authentic self. This won’t be a huge group but it will be a constant group that will be with you for the long term.

As a coach I encourage my clients to find a group of friends by joining into activities in their town, church/synagogue, or non profit organization. These will be people with whom they share a common interest other than work.

Of course not all friends are equal. You will have one or two with whom you are very close and then others with whom you have varying degrees of closeness.

Map Your Friendships

Years ago I bought a tape by Ruth Luban on burn out entitled Keep The Fire: from Burnout to Balance . In it she described an exercise to map your friendships from the closest to the acquaintances which she described as your Christmas card list. The exercise uses 5 concentric circles for the map with your closest friends being in the center of the circle.

I use the map myself to see where I need to build my support system. It is a useful and interesting exercise. If you would like to have a copy of the exercise, send me an email with your name and email address on it and I will send it to you.

There are many components of a happy fulfilling life. Certainly doing meaningful work is one component. Having good supportive friends is another. Losing ones job can be extremely stressful. To also lose ones friends adds to the stress.

Author's Bio: 

Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor (The Attorneys’ Coach) and a Career Changers’ Coach as well as publisher of "Parker’s Points", an email tip list and "Road to Success", an ezine. Subscribe now to these free monthly publications at her website www.asparker.com/samples.html and receive a values assessment as a gift. This assessment will identify your top 4 values. Working from your values makes the work more meaningful and fulfilling.