Hello everybody, welcome to episode 238 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is from a listener who's struggling to stay optimistic while unemployed.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
Now, thanks a lot for tuning in today folks. We’ll be taking another look at a question about employment today, or lack thereof. Our asker is unemployed, presumably one of many during the pandemic, and finding it hard to stay upbeat while searching for a job. Surely the job search has been as long and exhausting recently as it has since The Great Depression, so it’s important to look at ways to handle it well and that’s why I’m very grateful to have this question today. Here it is…
QUESTION: “Do you have any tips for staying positive while being unemployed and searching for jobs?”
An Opportunity to Find Yourself
Short and to the point, but highly applicable nonetheless. I love it. Thanks for sending this in, asker.
I have to admit I kind of love it when people are out of work or get fired and I know that might sound extraordinarily insensitive. Obviously that feeling applies more to people that are fortunate enough have some money saved or enough resources to get by for a while until they land on their feet again, but I just think it’s such a wonderful opportunity to find oneself again, to devote time to other meaningful things while you have it, and to have a clear runway to look for another job that’s truly exciting rather than just bill-paying.
Sure we always have the opportunity to do this while we’re working, too, but it’s much harder for people to justify making time for it.
Unemployment and Mental Health
I imagine it’s hard for you to be quite that optimistic at the moment which I totally understand, but let’s still talk today about what you can do on the inside and the out to create a healthy, happy and productive life while you’re still looking for work, and maybe after having done so you’ll be a little more psyched about currently being unemployed.
So first let’s talk about the outside. Let’s talk about how you can be spending your days and what you can be doing to keep yourself uplifted.
And in the article she was discussing the adverse effects that unemployment has on mental health. She listed five primary reasons that unemployment has a negative effect on us, them being:
- difficulty paying for basic necessities
- lack of purpose
- reduced social interaction
- fewer resources available to maintain mental health, and
- unhealthy coping skills being more tempting than they would be otherwise.
Now these may not be a shock to you or anyone listening, but that’s good, because that means they’re easily understood, universally agreed upon, and are likely to affect the majority of people that find themselves unemployed to different degrees.
So I think an effective strategy or routine to put together would be one that actively combats these setbacks; one in which you make time to control whichever of these you can.
Improving Your Healthy Coping Skills
What would that look like to you? To me, I’d think that to combat a lack of purpose, you might want to volunteer, sign up for a class teaching something that interests you but you’ve always put off, or work on a project around the house or something that’s been set aside.
To combat reduced social interactions, there’s no better time than to catch up with old friends or family members that you wished you spoke with more, but work got in the way. Could also be a great time to link up with other unemployed people and work together, or find a shared workspace at which you could interact with others, network, and apply to jobs in an office-like setting.
To combat the temptation of unhealthy coping skills, there’s never been a better time to spend time cooking healthy meals, exercising more, and of course getting on a sufficient sleep schedule.
And to give yourself more resources to maintain mental health, you’re already doing it by listening to our network and submitting this question to the show for free. And there are many other wonderful, inexpensive resources like great podcasts, books and articles for you to seek out, too.
But don’t discredit everything else I’ve just mentioned. Having that sense of balance by taking care of yourself physically, making time for loved ones, spending time on things that mean a lot to you – these are all great foundational pieces to better mental health.
Make Time to Budget
The only thing from Amy’s list that can feel less controllable when you’re unemployed is the difficulty in paying for basic necessities. I don’t know how much you saved right now, but if you don’t want to look for some part-time or entry level work before finding something more career driven, definitely make time to budget.
Save whatever you can, and make sure the bulk of your money is being spent on what’s essential and that those things are bought first before spending money on leisure. Luckily, leisure can be free, especially in a pandemic summer when hiking, swimming, and outdoor sports are in season.
This is all a way of enjoying and making the most of your time out of work and bringing the balance into your life that most people lament about not being able to do when they’re working full-time. Doing this may just open your eyes to true passions and interests worth pursuing in the job search if even at an entry level.
Like I said, this is, after all, a time most opportune to build a future that you want. So make this into a routine along with your job searching so that each day has structure; a structure that supports both your job search and the nurturing of yourself. This will make it much easier to feel a sense of accomplishment each day and it’ll be easier to transition seamlessly back into the workforce when you do get hired.
As for your inside work and the thoughts that are worth harvesting in this time, well, first of all, you know I’m going to tell you that it’s ok to feel stressed by this. It is. So allow that and know that negative feelings are part of the experience right now.
But aside from that, I’d say forget about what you did before the coronavirus. Just forget it. The situation you’re in right now is not only new for you, but it’s new for the tens of millions of other people at least here in the US that found themselves unemployed recently. The job force, like everything else will look different than it did before. So take it easy on yourself and be patient with yourself while you navigate a fresh start as opposed to trying to bring back a world that has changed in too many ways.
Though it may seem like the world is coming down on you, this is still but a phase and small fraction of your life that will barely be but a blip on the radar when you’re in your final days. And in this phase, you’re building appreciation for the work you’ll have in the future, you’re building resilience, and you’re better preparing yourself should you find yourself in between jobs again down the road. It’s a short term struggle for a long term gain.
So remember that it’s fleeting and keep it in the right perspective by not overblowing it or thinking that you can’t rebound. The whole world is on the rebound right now, and you haven’t been left behind.
Big thanks again to the asker for sending this question in, certainly one that reaches a lot of people as I mentioned. I think an interesting formula was created today; a formula that we could all take advantage of in our own ways.
Consider what’s blocking you from you want, and create actionable steps to combat all of the blockades that you can control. Meanwhile, accept that which is out of your control, knowing that you’re doing your best in the ways that you can. ROCKET SCIENCE, I know. No one’s ever come up with that before, Greg. But really, we often fail to consider the unique ways in which we’re not getting what we want, and when we do that, we make it harder for ourselves to keep perspective and battle back step by step.
If you can find a structured way to do that, you’ll be in business. So try it on for size with whatever’s going on in your life. Time to call it for today, now, everyone. Thanks for listening as always and be sure to come back for the Friday show in a couple of days. I’ll see you then.