Thursday, August 17, 2017

5 Self Care Tips for Jobseekers (and Everyone Else Too)

 photo Orchid grey Mountain View - Julie OBoyle_zpsw4as6wzh.jpg
Monday was one hell of a day. In fact, the whole beginning of August has been one hell of a... fortnight? Beyond the depressing political landscape and horrifying events in Charlottesville - which I know we're all feeling a lot of feelings about - I'm in the midst of a job search/attempting to figure out what it is I want to do with my life, it's a process that I didn't expect to be so emotional. But it is. While I've had arguably the best summer I've had in a few years, this time has also made it abundantly clear that I often put others above myself and allow outside factors to push me in directions I maybe don't want to go. Tuesday morning I awoke in my own bed after spending the weekend in Maine and New Hampshire, it was a tough weekend for a lot of reasons (among others: we were there to lay to rest Chris's 90-year-old grandfather), and with the weekend behind me it felt like a new start. Besides having to finish up a piece for Free People, I made the decision to spend the majority of the day mindfully focusing on what I needed right then and there. I rescheduled a meeting (not an interview, mind you, I wouldn't recommend rescheduling an interview), walked to the grocery store and restocked my smoothie ingredients, went to the gym mid-day, and did a little writing. It felt good to be on my own and getting back to the habits that make me feel my best, and in doing so, I felt ready to jump back into it on Wednesday. I've been trying to keep these points in mind as I approach my days, and not just jump right onto the computer as soon as I wake up:

Write it down
Shortly after my team and I were laid off, I had a conversation with my aunt where she recommended making a list of what would comprise my ideal job. Along with reading my mind - I'm really trying to view this time as an opportunity to be thoughtful about where I want to go - she also opened the door to a daily writing practice that I've been able to keep off and on over the past month and a half. I've mostly been bullet journaling and making lists, but even something as simple as list making helps to get the thoughts out of my head so I can stop obsessing (and maybe get some sleep). I try to take at least a few minutes each morning to write down a few thoughts and tend to keep my notebook on me throughout the day, especially if I'm out and about (and honestly, sometimes it's just two or three lines). Along with getting the thoughts from my head to the paper, writing has helped me stay present and identify my true feelings about where I want to go.

Do what makes you feel good*
Seriously. What do you love to do? Now do that. For me, this means getting back to a regular hiking practice and yoga classes. I'm not sure about you, but as soon as I get stressed out, the first thing to go is exercise, which, if you ask me, is also the worst thing to let go. If you enjoy exercise, make time for it and if you have to, force yourself to go (I never regret it, but sometimes I have to practically throw myself out of the house). If it's something else, do that. Two weekends ago Chris and I went up to the Poconos to hike Glen Okono Falls and it was a solid reminder to the two of us of what makes us both happy and, especially for me as I've been wrapped up obsessing over applications and fretting over cover letters, what I'm most passionate about. Yoga has been especially valuable these past few weeks, too. Rarely do I feel 100% present in my body than when I'm on the mat. Even if it's just once a week at the donation class I attend, or a few minutes in the morning, the simple act of breathing and moving thoughtfully gets me to focus on my body and out of the crazy storm happening in my head. Job searches can often make you feel as though money is the primary focus, and while yes, your salary is perhaps an important factor, ideally I think we'd all like to end up doing something we love, yes?

*Ideally these things take place away from technology

Invest in yourself - even if it's free
It can be easy to focus too much on money during this time, especially if you're the primary breadwinner, and in doing so, your self-care can quietly slip out the door because of presumed cost (getting your hair done, getting a pedicure, etc.). Don't do this! Even if it's just giving yourself an at-home pedicure, taking a few minutes or a few hours to focus entirely on yourself can make you feel so much better. On Tuesday, I made a simple body scrub out of some unappealing olive oil we bought recently and white sugar I don't use. Before heading to the gym, I combed coconut oil through the ends of my hair and wrapped it into a high bun to moisturize while I worked out. Later, after showering off and shampooing my now super soft hair, I used a self-tanner I already had in the cupboard, and later that night gave myself a pedicure using a polish I already owned. I spent no money, but I ended the day feeling 100% better than where I started. Your job search can feel isolating when you spend most of your day looking for jobs, networking, writing endless cover letters, and scrolling through LinkedIn, and it can be easy to get into your own head. A small investment in yourself, even if it's just washing your hair or painting your nails, can be the boost of self-esteem you need to power through your next round of cover letters.

Want to feel great for a good cause? Go volunteer. I began working with PAWS and United by Blue in Philly when I started working at Etsy because the company had a generous volunteer time initiative, and since leaving, I've continued the practice. Not only will this give you a reason to get out of the house for something other than networking, but you'll be doing good in your community (and maybe even secretly networking in the process - who knows who you'll meet!). Find a cause you want to support, then look for opportunities in your area. Want to get outside more? Do trail work for your local state park. Love animals? Walk dogs or do cat care at your local shelter. You've got the time, why not donate some of it?

Make plans - then stick to them
Seriously, get yourself out of the house. I tend to go to the gym in the evenings as a way to put a pin in the day, but a couple times a week (not counting the weekends) I try to meet up with a friend, take myself out for coffee (I'm currently doing a 'tour du Philly' of local cafes - so many cute spots!), or just do something different. it's easy to get wrapped up in the rabbit hole of jobs leads and networking, sometimes even just talking to someone you're close with (who is not your spouse, significant other, or parents) can give you the space and perspective you need and bring you back down to earth.

While it can be incredibly frustrating to suddenly be without a job - especially if you're a bit of a workaholic like me - this time you have is special, make the most of it when you're not hard at work applying to all the exciting opportunities out there. This is the lens I'm trying to view my own experience through, and believe the tips above are relevant not only to job seekers, but to all of us. It's easy to get wrapped up in the everyday, sometimes we need a reminder to take a step back and give a little of our focus to ourselves.


jesse.anne.o said...

Not working is really hard for me and if I'm ever in between jobs, I hustle to pick up the next one. (Granted, I've been in my current position for 9 years now but the mentality is still there.) So kudos to you for sitting in the discomfort of giving yourself time. I hope you find exactly what you need. (It's a corny book but What Color is Your Parachute helped me some!)

Rebecca Friday said...

Love this post! I'm a freelancer so I can periods of time without jobs (or as I'm finding now, periods with tons of jobs) and it can really get me down - about money, about my ability to BE a freelancer, about my skills, etc. It's definitely important to take time to gain perspective and take care of yourself!

jenvegas said...

Loved this. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm wishing you all the best in your job search. I've been reading for years, and feel like our career/life stories are similar (I moved to a city far away for a job opp. and my now husband also named Chris! And then moved again). I'm also at a crossroad on the career front. Fingers crossed! :)

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