Unemployment is a harsh reality for many people these days, and the anxiety that comes with it may be overwhelming. Often, the people who suffer the most from this stress are the ones who seem positive and upbeat, perhaps to put on a brave face. But the challenges, stress, and anxiety is still there, and it can be detrimental to your mental health.
There are many ways to manage the difficulties of unemployment, so that you can come out of it intact. Here are some principles to guide you during this transition.
1. Pace yourself.
At least at first, you may find yourself anxious to spend a lot of time pushing out job applications and beating down doors 10 times a day. It's useful for you to maintain a good work ethic, but it's essential for you to take your time and work smart, not just hard.
Fulfill your responsibilities, but treat a day of unemployment like you would a normal work day. Take breaks, utilize some time for yourself and get some fresh air. You're in a hard situation, so it stands to reason that giving yourself a break here and there will ease the stress to a degree.
2. Maintain your social life.
The temptation to isolate yourself from friends and family is difficult to overcome. Because you might feel ashamed of your situation, being around people who might bring it up and acknowledge it is a reasonable fear to have.
But the truth is that friends and family are your best resource for support and love, which is what you really need during these stressful times. Your pride may take a hit, but if you choose to spend time with those who really care about you, then it might not matter to you at the end of the day.
3. Be organized.
Life can get somewhat messy during unemployment. This is mostly because we are used to the rigid structure of an office schedule, and being in our homes during the day may be a shock to the system.
But it's vital that you maintain a proper schedule, keeping your daily tasks and workspace organized each day. Try not to deviate too much from the schedule you had before so that transitioning back won't be quite as difficult.
This means that staying up late at night and sleeping in every day creates bad habits you don't want to become used to. In addition, you don't want to waste valuable daytime that can be spent contacting businesses and attending interviews, tasks that would have been ignored if you'd slept in.
4. Manage your expectations.
When assigning daily tasks, it's common for us to have idealistic goals that we won't really be able to accomplish. It may seem like you are just trying to shoot high, but the disappointment that comes with falling short can ultimately increase your anxiety and uncertainty. This is why it's more useful for you to assign tasks that you know can complete.
These include chores and errands, such as cleaning the house and researching a company you like. A reachable goal may be that you want to drop off three applications before the day ends, or taking a walk through the city.
The idea is for you to get used to the feeling of fulfillment and control, so that you don't become fixated on your limitations. At the moment, you may feel conflicted about what you're capable of, especially if you were terminated from your last job or are having a tough time bouncing back. As you manage your expectations and limitations, you'll be able to set realistic goals for yourself that will help you through unemployment.
5. Give to others.
It may seem odd to think that helping someone else will improve your own situation, but this can actually be one of the best activities for you to spend your free time on. Volunteering and giving of yourself is a method of maintaining a good perspective on your situation, and it will almost always boost your spirits.
Volunteering helps you grasp that you have something to offer people without expecting compensation, a habit we undoubtedly form in our careers. If you feel like you have something to contribute to the world no matter what your employment status is, you're not as likely to be weighed down by the stress of unemployment, which can cripple your self-esteem and self-worth.
6. Go to the library.
There are many free resources available to you while unemployed, and the library is one of the best ones, especially if the Internet is too distracting for you. This is a great activity for getting you out of the house and in an environment that is more conducive to learning.
What should you read? It's smart to look for journals and books on stress management, so that you can gather more information on cultivating a healthy mind during your transition. You may also want to have some fun and learn a new skill - perhaps one that can make you look good to employers.
7. Look toward the future.
Whenever you're feeling plagued by the anxiety, step back and look at the big picture, focusing on what you've accomplished so far and what lies ahead. It's great to keep a record each night of what you've accomplished as a way to maintain optimism and know what's working (or isn't).