If you’re feeling down and think there is no end to life’s troubles, don’t be in distress! This month we’re going to give you a little breath of fresh air. When initially talking about a loss of a job, I always encourage people to give themselves time to react – feel the shock and devastation – then regroup and move forward. When you’ve been in the job hunt for an extended period of time, the same holds true. Give yourself time to take a deep breath, decompress, and begin again. But this can obviously be easier said than done. So I’ve compiled several questions to ask yourself to help with this process, and the answers that will help you stay up when you’re down.
What can I do to keep my mental health? Find out what drives you. What challenges you? What keeps your brain engaged? It could be reading a good book, or doing research on the internet. Actually, doing research on companies of interest in the job search may be how you stay engaged mentally.
Stay mentally focused by keeping some sort of structure on a daily basis. You may not have to get up at 6:00 a.m. anymore, but have a scheduled time you wake up, work, stop for lunch and when you call it a day.
Learn from the experts. A professional coach can help you ease over the bumps or steer you clear of them all together. Keep an eye on whether or not the activity in your day is focused on what and where you want to be. Don’t be afraid to connect or contract with a professional coach to help see you through the fog and weather the storm. There are a lot of support groups out there, but none can replace the benefits of a personalized approach to your career. If your marketing plan looks generic (like everyone else’s!), then don’t expect to stand out from the crowd.
What can I do to keep my physical health? Find out what is necessary to burn off stress. If exercise works for you, then find ways to fit in time to stretch, build strength and burn off excess calories and anxiety.
If escaping through reading, a bubble bath by candlelight, or a massage burns off stress physically, then take the time for those activities. If necessary, schedule it on your calendar and make all other appointments work around this entry. Find out what gives you those moments of relaxation so you can escape from reality for just a few minutes. Find a positive outlet for all that pent up frustration or anxiety.
If you escape by helping others, use some of your free time to volunteer. Through volunteer work and helping others who are less fortunate, you have an opportunity to see that there are still many good things happening in your life. Often times helping others clean up, build, or repair keeps you active and reminds you that you still have value.
What can I do to keep my emotional health? Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you set realistic expectations each day and concentrate on what you can do today, you can be productive without added stress. Keep in mind that this process is not training for a marathon. You just need to inch forward that one meter. Keep some forward movement. It can be small, but it is still forward.
Keep believing in yourself. Yes, you’re going to be “rejected.” It happens to all of us, almost every day in one way or another. But never forget that you have value. My friend Monica used to go to her “feel good file” whenever she was feeling down. In this file she kept various notes from over the years that acquaintances, bosses, co-workers, and friends had written to her; in those writings she found encouragement, thanks and kudos for her work or input in their lives. These always made her feel good and rebuilt her confidence.
We all know that many times the stress of a job loss will affect other areas of our lives. Don’t be afraid to connect with a trusted advisor who will allow you to just vent your frustration. They are there to just listen. They are not there to give you feedback. Set a time limit, vent as much as you can during that time frame, then be done with it. If you do need more than just a listener, seek out a professional who has been trained to give unbiased, logical, helpful feedback on your situation.
Find places to laugh at life and yourself. I know this may seem hard, but find something funny and just have a good laugh. Watch a stand-up comedian or find a funny movie. A friend of mine recently adopted a dog. Although this should have meant more work, the amount of enjoyment from the companionship and the funny things the dog does has lightened her life immensely during this very difficult time. For her, companionship plus a reason to get out and walk several times a day equals stress release and a renewed frame of mind!
Never stop developing and finding the balance in your work and life. It is critical for your mental, physical and emotional health. It’s hard to remember this will all pass, but when you look back, you’ll realize that when you are challenged is when real growth in life happens. The challenges are what give us character and help us define who we are. I know some of you are protesting that you would rather have a little less stress right now. But take the time to ask the deeper questions we all need to ask. What will give my life real meaning moving forward? How can I build in support systems that will take me to a better place mentally, physically and emotionally? Before you find the answers, you first have to ask!