A few months ago, at the very beginning of this record-breaking cold winter, I unexpectedly got laid-off from my job in education. Although my current situation is particular (my health then took a turn, awaiting for medical tests), this is a difficult period to go through, especially with the uncertainty in the job market and not knowing what to expect. Losing a job can feel like losing a social role, a community and a sense of purpose.
The entire job search–endless online searches, interviews, waiting for callbacks–can be demoralizing. When I first got the news, my biggest concern was that I would have too much free time, which would lead to endless marathons of The Good Wife and a huge drop in self-esteem. However, I have figured out a few things that have made it easier for me.
Here are my 9 tips to help keep a positive and productive lifestyle while unemployed:
1) Join a gym or fitness group immediately. This helped me get out of the house everyday and feel part of a community. Keeping fit also allows me feel productive and confident because I am working to keep my body healthy. If this isn’t financially feasible, setting regular time for exercise outdoors, like jogging or walking, is also helpful. It’s like that phrase we often hear, “A healthy body is a healthy mind”.
2) Create a list of things you’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t had the time. These are your goals that have been put on the back-burner for a while. Ask yourself if they still interest you, and keep them in a realistic range. This could be learning/improving a language, taking a course on something you’ve always wanted to learn, even reading a particular book… Always be learning! You never know what skills might end up helping you in the labor market.
- Hit the books! The ones you’ve always wanted to read.
3) Try to maintain an active social life: Going to a party or an event might not feel like the most appealing thing to do, especially having to meet new people and answer the question, “So, what do you do?” But the more you avoid networking, the more difficult it becomes. For myself, it has been more comfortable to meet with small groups of friends who are supportive and positive role models. I once heard that 70% of jobs are found through personal connections, so ultimately these interactions might help you in your search.
4) Stick to a functional schedule: It’s easy to slip into a routine where noon is the new wake-up time, and sleep happens anytime after 3am. But this schedule can cause you to lose touch with your goals. If you are looking for a 9-5 job, try to keep a schedule that reflects your desired lifestyle, even if it just means waking up at the same reasonable time everyday and getting dressed. Just don’t live in your PJs!
5) Rediscover a hobby you might have dropped: for me this was mostly drawing and painting, listening to new music, and DIY projects.
Check out a museum exhibit during free or discounted hours.
6) Find the benefits of a flexible schedule: many discounts are only offered at awkward times during the day. Movie matinees, museums, and community yoga classes just to name a few. Waiting several months for an appointment? Ask them to give you a call if they have any cancellations. You are open to this now.
7) Take care of the things you kept putting off: doctor’s appointments, that small renovation project, the pile of clothes that need to be mended… They’re always on the back of your mind, and now’s your chance to get them done.
8) Plan 3 things per day: If you are feeling overwhelmed and aren’t sure how to approach your tasks, try to plan 3 things to do per day. This can be something like: go to the gym, meet with a friend for lunch, bake lasagna. The job search should not be the only plan in the day. Keeping an agenda or planner can also help.
9) Indulge in the little things you didn’t have time for before: Things like making meals that require more effort, walking to places you would normally drive to, taking a bath. Try a slow pace for a change, your body and mind will thank you.
Photos from my instagram