Being unemployed is hard enough. Right now, it may be even tougher, as millions of Americans deal with sudden job loss and the fear of COVID-19. When you’re between jobs, anxiety and depression can come on fast.
After losing a job, you have more time on your hands, and it’s easy to drift toward negative thoughts. There’s also tons of uncertainty now about the economy and the job market as the pandemic continues.
It may seem like a herculean task, but it’s possible to stay positive during these fearful times. You’re not alone if you’re feeling afraid and, most importantly, you don’t have to do it alone to stay positive and hopeful.
Here are some ways I’m trying to stay centered as I continue to look for work, deal with self-isolation, and the threat of COVID-19:
Sticking to routines
While unemployed, it’s easy to lose structure in your life. You may want to sleep late, become a night owl, watch Netflix for hours, or any number of things with this sudden endless amount of free time you now have. Be careful, though: This can feel liberating at first but quickly lead to depression.
Jobs give us a sense of purpose and, without one, it’s tempting to drift until you lose healthy routines and develop bad habits. I struggled mightily with this after leaving a full-time job and discovered that having a sense of structure, developing simple routines, and keeping a regular sleep schedule was essential.
Staying structured is especially tricky because of the pandemic, but it’s possible. Try to treat your job search as a type of full-time job. Go to bed and wake up at regular times, eat meals at the same time, or do anything that keeps you in a healthy mindset. All these things have helped me tremendously.
Take advantage of free stuff
Financial insecurity is a huge concern after losing a job. I’m fortunate that I had savings to rely on, but not everyone can say that. I consider it a blessing. Still, I’ve tried to rein in expenses and find free resources to further my personal growth, learning, and career development.
Luckily, there are tons of free resources online – both for job hunting and entertainment. Take advantage of as much free or low-cost stuff as you can, whether it’s articles about finding work or funny YouTube videos.
Do a little bit each day
It’s normal to feel frustrated and upset after losing work. It’s also common to want to do anything to find a job, which can quickly lead to more anxiety and frustration. A desperate mindset rarely works during job searching, though, and it’s best to be patient and stay in the moment.
Focus on what’s in your control and try to let go of the things that aren’t. What’s helped me lately is to do a little bit each day to move forward and set small daily goals I can accomplish. I know when I get in my panic mode, I make bad decisions and end up feeling crappy very fast.
Choose to remain positive
We’re living in fearful times right now. If you check any major media website, you’ll see headlines about record unemployment, rising death tolls, and economic calamity. It’s easy to get sucked into this vortex of negativity and start to feel worried, anxious, and depressed.
But all is not lost. I studied journalism in college, and I’ve worked as a reporter, but I’m not a huge fan of how the media has covered the pandemic. One way to stay positive during unemployment and the pandemic for me has been to limit the amount of news and social media I’m consuming.
There is such a thing as blind optimism, and I’m not advocating that. Despite the craziness of our situation, it’s possible to stay positive. There will be bad days, but when I focus on staying in the moment and doing one thing at a time, my days in self-isolation go much better.
Good luck with your job search!
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