When people lose their jobs they need to do three key things in order to maintain their health and well being. Some people don’t want to work but for others unemployment can be a difficult time and there is a lot of research which warns us of the dangers of people sinking into depression when unemployed.
Following this recipe for taking care of yourself will have multiple benefits, if you are more cheerful you will interview better, maintain your momentum and have a list of positive things that you have done to talk about to prospective employers.
So what are the things that you need to do to take of yourself?
1) Treat getting another job as a job
It is all very well and good to have a break but set yourself a date when you are going to start the serious business of getting work. Treat the task like a job of work. Create a space in which to work, keep records, set goals and allocate time in which to do it. Make yourself work at it. The main reason that people who are out of work don’t get another job is because they give up. Research shows that a lot of people, when they get a job rejection give up rather than carrying on applying. Perseverance is important. So set yourself goals and monitor your progress against them. Reward yourself if you meet them.
2) Get moving
Not working is a very sedentary activity. In the space of a day in the office or workplace you probably walked several thousand paces. Going to the loo, to the coffee point, to the printer meant you got some exercise, never mind the process of going to and from work. At home if you are not working, you may find that you just don’t need to walk as far, you have access to more food, get up later and generally move less. So in order to prevent waist expansion you need to factor some exercise into your routine. As well as keeping the weight down – or even reducing it- exercise has other benefits. Aerobic exercise will generate serotonin – the happy hormone that keeps you feeling good. Meeting your fitness goals makes you recognise that you are accomplishing something, exercising will help you look better too…increasing your self esteem.
Some people will say “I can’t afford a gym“, but you don’t have to use a gym to walk, you don’t need special equipment to lift tins of beans or do step ups on the stairs. Look out for ‘green gyms’ or ‘trim trails’ in parks where both resistance and aerobic equipment are provided free and with the added benefit of fresh air.
3) Get doing
One of the challenges of being without work is that people find that they start to feel that they are of no use or have no value. So the third essential thing you need to do is to something that increases your sense of self worth. This could be any one of a number of things: learn a new skill (libraries are still free at point of use), perfect a skill, do some good in the world. I don’t mean that you have to become a missionary and go to Africa to do voluntary work but practise ‘Random Acts of Kindness’. There is a lot of research that this makes people happier, giver and receiver. So find ways of pleasing others. That might mean visiting a relative or an old person in your community, walking someone’s dog, cutting a hedge, fetching a pint of milk, playing footie with the neighbour’s kids. You might want to try and raise money for charity or commit to more regular activity such as listening to reading at the local school (remember that lots of activities like this require CRB checks so it is not an activity you can take up immediately) Your acts of kindness do not have to be large or time consuming but they will help you to focus on others and give you some satisfaction and feeling of self worth. Take care not to create a dependency – you won’t be unemployed for long!
Do you have any other tips? Share them in the comments below!