SURVIVING LONG TERM UNEMPLOYMENT
Dealing With Long Term Unemployment
It is the worst nightmare you have ever had. You have been out of a job for several months. You feel yourself slowly losing your mind and may even begin to have feelings of despair.
For months, you’ve exercised all the job search strategies imaginable but with no success. Meanwhile,
your work mindset is losing it's appeal and your career clock is ticking away quickly. As if that's not enough, money is running short. Your self-confidence and the hope of ever working again have both dwindle away slowly.
Is it possible to get through the job search process without becoming discouraged or perhaps even cynical?
Can this period of professional limbo yield some hidden breakthrough you've been searching for thus far in your life? In fact, could you perhaps be at the point of that exciting breakthrough you needed all along?
As you are approaching several months of unemployment, this article could essentially serve as a survival guide, for the long-term job search.
CUE THE INNER TURMOIL
In the beginning, unemployment may have felt more like a break than probation. After getting over the initial shock, anger or sadness of losing your job, you might have taken time to focus on yourself. Your job had meant long hours and stressful deadlines or daily routines that zapped your time away; now suddenly there is enough energy to have a social life, prepare food at home rather than eating out, saving a lot of money and tidy up or organize your home or apartment.
All of that may sound great, but nagging at you inside is that feeling that something is missing. It's that job. Without that job, you feel unsettled. You need to look for a job because your optimistic and carefree outlook will soon be overtaken by self doubt and fear. You may begin to have thoughts like
What if I never find work,
How will I support myself. You may even question yourself with
Who am I? Anxiety will take over all other feelings you have, full force. After that expect depression.
You are experiencing a downward spiral, that you need to do something about immediately. Find a way to pull yourself out by adopting positive, practical habits. You must reinvigorate your job search. Also, find alternative approaches to make the most out of your adult life. After all, your job is just one part of your life, and it certainly doesn’t define you.
DEALING WITH LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT
Start by Giving Yourself a Break
A seemingly simple concept but certainly not easy to execute. Stress is inevitable during unemployment, but you must make the best of the existing circumstances. Maintaining a calm mind and body will not only make you less anxious, but also allow you to be more creative.
Giving yourself a mental or physical break whether it’s meditation, journaling, listening to classical music, take up a hobby, taking a bath or going for a long hike will give you the ability to think and feel more clearly. Job emails and interviews will be easier to tackle. You will be able to enjoy the time you spend with your friends and family. You will be more present and engaged.
The key is to commit to staying relaxed. It’s surprisingly difficult, but try to check your feelings often. A peaceful mind is a happy mind.
Use the Free Time to Reflect but Not Dwell
Think about what you liked and didn’t like about your last job and what you’d like to change this time around. The last thing you want to do is find yourself in a similar or unsuited situation just because you’re anxious to get a paycheck. The better you know what you want, the easier it will be to communicate in your interviews and ensure that your next experience will be more satisfying. Take time to reflect, but try not to dwell on the negative. Once you’ve identified what you’d like to change or improve, focus on the process and the leave the past in the past.
Make a Change, Big or Small
When you feel blue, why not try something new? The change can be significant or subtle but, it’s always impactful.
Examples of a big change could be taking a trip, moving, or going back to school. These options require money (something you might not have in excess during your unemployment), but if you have the means to make a major life shift, it might be the thing to inspire, reinvigorate, or redefine the next step in your career path.
If you’re not ready or able to make such a bold jump or financial commitment, there are simpler solutions. Rearrange the furniture in your apartment to mix up your living environment. Read a new book to expand your perspective and thinking. Take a class to enhance your resume, sharpen your interview skills or for your own personal enrichment. You may even want to learn a new skill you can use at your next job, making you more employable. Change, no matter how small, is progress.
Set and Keep a Routine
Especially because you don't have to. Without a job to structure your days, it’s natural to feel a bit directionless. Set up an easy morning routine you can commit to on the weekdays. While waking up early, making breakfast, and checking jobs for a few hours may seem minor, it gives your day purpose. They are small victories but victories nonetheless. Keeping busy and feeling productive will help you to relax and focus. It also keeps your mind busy and productive.
Stay social and set weekly plans with your friends to keep yourself on an evening routine. It will not only give you something to look forward to but it could be a way to subtly network and learn about new opportunities.
Focus on Spending Time with the
You are the company you keep so during this time it’s best to be around positive and supportive individuals. Reach out to close friends and family that you feel comfortable talking to about your tough work situation. Let them distract and ease you with good conversation, humor or a fun outing. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your trusted mentors for advice or to hear their own work stories.
Keep away from those who make you feel ashamed or negative. Their energy will only cause harm and diminish the confidence you will need to find a fulfilling position. Perhaps you know someone going through the same dilemma. Commiserating together might be okay in the beginning but quickly commit to empower each other on the quest for new work. Propose group work sessions. Edit each other's resume and cover letters. Practice mock interviews.
Having a solid support system will boost your morale, maintain your interpersonal skills, and most importantly remind you that you are not in this alone.
Exercise (Keep Physically Active)
It may not be everyone's favorite activity, but do it because of how important it is for your wellbeing. Being active helps you to relax, keeps your feeling strong, and is a healthy way to fill up your day. It is also an excellent way to reduce stress.
Working out doesn’t have to be a drag or a big feat. Sign up for a class or simply take a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood every day. On weekends, go for a hike with a friend at a nearby trail or scenic landmark. The important thing is to keep your body moving. Some fresh air won’t hurt either.
Embrace the Existential Crisis
Sure, unemployment might feel like one long mental breakdown. But instead of denying it or letting it get the best of you, why not embrace it? You should be working hard on your job search; if you are, you will eventually find a job. It will happen.
So be nicer to yourself. Remember that most of the things you say to yourself, you would never to a friend. It’s quite unlikely you’ll see any positive changes if you keep beating yourself up. Also remember the importance of feeding your mind with positive thoughts.
Remember G.I.G.O. (Garbage In Garbage Out). Don't spend your time dwelling on the negative, or that's what your mind will focus on.
The fact is, life is long and forever changing. The best way to survive and enjoy it is to accept that it is hard but you will you overcome it, making you a better person. But consider that this hardship is just a chapter in your life story. This chapter will end and a new and more exciting chapter will begin. Overcoming this trial will only help you to be a more interesting and enlightened person, ready for the next incredible chapter of your life.
Now, go and put some new energy and creativity into your job search!
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