Let’s face it. Rarely do you take time for yourself when you are looking for work because searching for work is a full-time job. Scouring job boards looking for postings for which you qualify is draining. Not to mention the repetition of visiting various job sites to apply, as you either cut and paste or reenter your complete professional experience for the umpteenth time, as you silently scream inside about the process.
It doesn’t hurt to take a day off, just for yourself, every once in a while. If an entire day sounds like too much then take a few hours off or a half-day. The frustration of job hunting, juggling finances to figure out which bill can get paid or if you can even meet the minimum payment while looking at your dwindling checking and savings balances, deciding whether to tap into the 401K another time, debating if you should accept a loan a friend offered, etc. is always somewhere in the forefront of your mind. Or you’re frustrated because the headhunter that was so enthusiastic about your experience hasn’t called you back, you’ve overly tapped into your professional network, etc. You’re sick and tired of being tired, of feeling helpless, misunderstood, frustrated, and possibly not sleeping well each night. All of these things take a tremendous toll on our body: physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Sadly, when you’re unemployed the loop of thoughts is endless. Your mind is in constant overdrive…over everything. I don’t know if you are like me but when I was looking for work I overthought—everything—and it seemed like my normal decision making process was painfully skewed and agonizing.
Clearly, the true priority is finding some type of work. However, YOU are also a priority.
Here are some ways for self-care along with a few tips on what helped me.
1. Decompress – take some down time just for you. Of course your money is funny and you have stretched it every which way you know how. While you can’t go out and buy things like clothes, movie tickets, music downloads, meals out, etc. you can take time to relax. You NEED to take time to relax. All of the stress of finding work is too much to bear at times. Especially if you have been long-term unemployed like I was (over two plus years).
My tip: I am not really a DIY girl but I started to DIY a lot of new things. I began by making my own spice blends. Some are my own creations like salt-free herb blends. Others are standard spice blends (e.g., Italian seasoning, Greek seasoning, etc.) that I normally shelled out really good money for (spices are expensive!) but now I make them and they taste just as good and don’t have the chemical preservatives in them that the prepackaged products have. Plus, I can control the amount of sodium I include in them. I also began making my own veggie burgers which taste divine. And hummus.
2. Eat right. Prepack your meals daily. Being under stress gives license to stress eat.
My tip: I started prepackaging my lunch and snacks every night. Just like I would do if I was packing lunch while working. That way when I got stressed or frustrated or discouraged, I would pull out a snack bag of sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, Triscuits, pretzels, etc. as my go to instead of foraging around my kitchen.
3. Exercise. Do something daily. Clear the cobwebs during this free time. You may not be motivated to do much of anything on certain days especially if your computer freezes as you’re about to hit submit on a job application, an interview gets rescheduled, etc.
My tip: I’ll tell you the truth, I got much more exercise when I was unemployed. I made it protected time. It was one of my daily joys and motivators. It was also my time to really be truly free in the midst of the day-to-day craziness of constant job searching.
4. Trust God has you where He wants you. You may not understand. Actually, I will rephrase that, you likely have absolutely no clue why you lost your job and why it is taking so long to find a new one. You may see friends lose their job and get a new one right away while another circle of friends have been waiting and waiting and waiting along with you. God knows. Trust Him.
My tip: Daily prayer and reading of the Word. The prayer might be simple or long-winded. The reading might be a chapter or a book (e.g., Philippians) or multiple chapters and books. Seek spiritual growth.
5. Reach out to friends. Those without and with jobs. I will be the first to say that if your friends are working and have never been unemployed they may not truly relate to your place in life right now. However, on a human level I believe everyone relates to someone who is open, vulnerable and transparent. Socialization is a key that helps release and let go of some of the daily frustrations.
My tip: Learn how to be vulnerable. Be silly. Let your hair down. Laugh. And then laugh some more.
6. Stay positive. It isn’t easy and some days you just want to scream. So scream and let it out! Then take a few minutes to stop looking at what you don’t have and be grateful for what you do have.
My tip: Journaling a minimum of 5 things I was grateful for each day. On those days I wanted to, or did, scream I upped the anty and would journal as many things as I could think of or I would pick a topic (e.g., ways God has provided during unemployment, what I’m thankful for, etc.)
7. Keep the end goal in mind. Stay focused on the prize. Ultimately the job will come. It may be in your field. It may not be. However, be prepared for the commute, the daily rituals of getting up and being rested to get to work on time. Is your wardrobe in order? If not, identify what is needed for when you get your finances back on track.
My tip: I splurged on a few skirts during a huge sale. It certainly wasn’t much but it helped keep my wardrobe fresh, made me feel good about making a simple purchase which boosted my mood and now that I’m working I look forward to having something new to wear.
8. Refresh. Get out in nature.
My tip: Sit outside. Take a walk in the park. Chart a different path on your daily walk.
Those are a few self-care tips that helped me. I am positive you will find your own self-care tips. Be mindful that part of the job hunting process requires caring for yourself.
Hang in there and don’t give up!