Thoreau said, “‘Tis healthy to be sick sometimes.” While it’s unlikely this 19th century author was ever downsized and left to spend hours tweaking his personal brand, crafting power statements, or hunting down hiring managers, his wisdom can be applied to those struggling through a job transition.
Just as our bodies sometimes need down time for rest and repair, our careers may benefit from occasional breaks – voluntary or otherwise – for reflection and rejuvenation. And during this time, it’s more important than ever to attend to both our physical and mental health. Here’s how to stay well during a job search dry spell:
1. Create a “feel-good” list
Studies show that persons who remind themselves of positive things in their lives tend to be depressed less often. Try to list ten things to be thankful for during this transition (e.g. supportive spouse, healthy children, comfortable home, good friends, and so on). Post the list in your work area as a daily reminder.
2. Build in breaks
Sure, finding a job is a full-time job, but there’s no reason you can’t carve out some time for other projects. They may be as mundane as organizing your photos or as profound as outlining that novel you’ve been meaning to write. No, don’t use these as diversions, but as a reward for completing your job hunting tasks.
3. Recharge with others
When you’re home alone all day, it’s easy to feel isolated and become down. Be sure to build regular social events into your week – not just for job searching, but also “just because.” Remember: You likely won’t have this much free time once you’re reemployed.
4. Look on the bright side
Unlike most of your cubicled brethren, you now have easier access to sunlight and fresh air. Make the most of it! At a dead end? Get out for a walk. There’s no supervisor watching you – as far as you know…
5. Reconsider cutting the club
In tight times, it may be tempting to let go of a health club membership. Yet, exercise is now more important than ever – for stress relief, looking your best and (wait for it) networking! But if you must cut it, look for low cost replacements: Join a free biking or running club, find a neighbor to walk with, or use DVDs for yoga.
6. Learn while you burn
You may feel pressured to focus your time on job hunting to the exclusion of everything else, including exercise. Compromise! Use your workout time to read/listen to career and business books. You can prop a book up on the treadmill or bike, or listen to audiobooks while running, walking, or biking.
7. Hire yourself as your personal chef
Working people often feel they don’t have the time or energy to make healthy meals. Use this time to improve your diet. Yes, you likely have less money now and may not be eating out as often, but you do have more time to shop and cook using lower cost, less-processed foods.
8. Network with Mr. Sandman
You’ve likely never found time for the suggested 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Well, what are you waiting for? Don’t feel guilty. You need it now more than ever to feel and look your best. No, you don’t want to overdo it. Be sure to set an alarm and keep a schedule, but enjoy!
Unemployment is no picnic. (Actually, it can be. More accurately, it’s no linen-tabled power lunch.) In any case, be sure to put as much energy into healthy habits as you do into preparing for your next interview. It may mean the difference between a “thank you” and a job offer.
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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