5 Ways To Stay Sane While Being Unemployed

Get to work before you, you know, get to work.

After graduation this summer, I packed up my things and moved to NYC. The day I got here, I hit the ground running looking for a job.

Over the past two months, I’ve written dozens of cover letters, gone to multiple interviews, and completed more online applications than I can count. Let me tell you firsthand, looking for a job is HARD — no matter what your field, you’re bound to be up against a host of other talented, skilled people. While I’ve found it hard to stay confident with my own skills in a city filled with talented people, I’ve also found there are a few things that help me stay sane and energized even in times of uncertainty.

1. Develop A Routine

Part of the problem with not having a job is that there’s a constant feeling of instability. While working friends often comment that they wish they had the free time you currently have (the grass is always greener!), the lack of structure can make you feel a little out of control. To counter this, develop a routine — even small things help. I now start each morning by walking the dogs, drinking a cup of tea, and then getting organized for the day. I’ve also started organizing my tasks in time blocks — I spend the first few hours of the day looking at job boards, and after lunch, I switch gears to freelance writing. It makes such a huge difference to have some structure.

2. Find A Balance Between Eating On A Budget And Eating Healthy

It’s understandable that you want to save money right now. However, you also need to take care of yourself! When I first started looking for a job and had to reassess my budget, I decided quickly that my grocery budget would be the last thing I’d cut. I can live without new clothes, eating out, and grabbing drinks with friends every night, but if I’m not eating in a way that makes me feel good, I won’t be productive (or happy). There are plenty of resources that can guide you through eating in a way that’s friendly to your wallet and your body.

3. Exercise

Getting your body moving can really help counter some of the damaging effects of sitting down and staring at your computer for much of the day. It’s also proven that exercise increases productivity, so adding any kind of movement (from yoga to running!) to your routine will also help you tackle the job search.

4. Find Cheap Ways To Have Fun

While you’re looking for work and trying to save money, it can make you feel guilty taking a break to have some fun. However, if you spend ALL your time inside, you can get a case of cabin fever. It’s important to allow yourself the space to have fun, and you’ll return to the job hunt feeling refreshed. Check out local guides for cheap or free things to do in your city!

5. Create An Interview Uniform

Before each interview, I used to agonize over what I’d wear — in fact, I was almost late once because I changed too many times. Find a classic, polished outfit that you feel confident in, and wear it to every interview you go to. It’ll cut down on prep time beforehand and you’ll be free to focus on what matters.

Even in the most uncertain times, adding some structure through small changes like these can really help. Since creating a routine, I’ve felt more confident and calm, and that change is apparent in my interviews and interactions with potential employers. I know that the right opportunity is headed my way, and I’ll be ready to start when it does.

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