4.11.14

STAYING PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY HEALTHY DURING UNEMPLOYMENT


So this comes at quite an appropriate time because after a long period of unemployment, I started a new job today! I graduated this summer with an English degree, vague plans to be a marketing/PR whiz and initially, high levels of optimism. After a spot of interning cut short prematurely at a fancy London PR company – the less said about that, the better – I was in the scary position of living in a new city with quite a bit of rent to pay, no job prospects and very little actual grown-up work experience. My horror-show of an internship had knocked my confidence and the relentless grind of applications really got me down. 

It can be really hard out here in the real world for a graduate and no matter how much carefully I crafted my cover letters and how intricately I tailored each individual CV I sent out to the role, not even considering the sheer volume and variety of my applications, work was initially not forthcoming and I had to work really hard to stay positive. It was really tempting to mope around and watch loads of laptop-telly and let all the healthy habits that I'd built up come crashing down. I know I usually write about physical health but I'm including some tips for mental well-being because they have a huge bearing on each other. Hopefully you'll find these helpful if you're also “underemployed” and sick of it. 

1. Get up, showered and dressed and go outside every day. You'll start to feel crazy and trapped if you don't, even if it's just for a little stroll. Lists help – even though sometimes my lists consisted of “1. Apply for at least five positions. 2. Wash hair 3. Do laundry”, it was super-helpful to feel like I was achieving something.

2. Lethargy breeds lethargy and chances are, you'll be doing a lot of applications from your bed with your laptop. A change of scenery can help, see how long you can stretch out a single coffee in terms of hours of mooching off the Wifi in a local cafe. An excuse to wear nice clothes and make up and be around people went a long way towards helping me feel like a functioning member of society and less like a grimy pyjama-ed hermit. 

3. Keep exercising! It's such a mood-booster and also kills a good few hours in a long day. It's easy to feel demotivated and like you just can't be bothered but you'll never regret making the effort. Personally, I was tied into my gym membership so I tried to go as often as I could because it was going to be eating into my budget anyway. My newfound oodles of free time meant that I could go when it was quiet and not have to spend my precious gym-time aggressively pursuing the squat rack or a bench. I also took advantage of wacky day-time exercise classes, like acro-yoga and aerial pilates and martial arts inspired conditioning classes. Alternatively, you don't need me to tell you that running is free and amazing for you in both body and mind.  Youtube is also a crazy good fitness resource, my room-mate has recently started Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred and can attest to its swift results. Equally, a morning yoga routine could really help your stress levels.

4. Social interaction! My free days meant that I could Skype my BFF in Hong Kong despite the time difference. I made sure I met up with friends who were also in-between jobs and I actually remembered to call my parents regularly and this meant that when my housemates got back from work I wasn't completely over-excited and desperately panting for their company like a puppy scrabbling at the front door when it hears it's owner coming. Being by yourself all day can be really lonely and it's important to make the most of company, I like to offer to make dinner for my housemates when they get home 

5. It's also worth considering taking time to build your CV. You can do online classes in things like SEO or computer programming or HTML or languages that make you so much more employable and feel like you're being productive. For example, I started writing for this blog!

6. Stay positive! Think about the perks of the situation. A job will come, and when it does you'll regret all the time you spent worrying about it when you could have been enjoying yourself. It's not the ideal situation but it certainly offers its own opportunities. When I was out in Shoreditch this past Halloween I experienced a moment of drunken enlightenment when reading some toilet graffiti which actually turned out to be a John Lennon quote: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end”





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"Hiya, I'm Catherine, recent English Lit graduate newly situated in Shoreditch. I love street food, puppies, competitive cheerleading and pyjamas."