How to Maintain Your Sanity While Unemployed or in Transition at Work

Sheena Stemler Job Search Tips 1 Comment

Job searching and other work-related issues cause major mental strain. The average person probably has no idea just how much stress these issues trigger. The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale (HRSS) confirms that work-related problems account for a surprisingly large portion of the mental duress that humans experience. The HRSS was created in 1967 to identify just how stressful specific life events are. There are 43 events on the scale. According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, “Being fired at work” is #8 on the list. “Retirement from work” is #10, “Major business readjustment” is #15, “Major change in financial state” is #16, “Changing to a different line of work” is #18, and “Major change in responsibilities at work” (demotion or promotion) is #22.

Now do you understand why you are so stressed out all the time?

How to Maintain Your Sanity While Unemployed or in Transition at Work

Being unemployed is one of the most difficult things a person can face. With the right tools, though, you will get through your job search or work-related transition in one piece, and be stronger because of it.

Here are a few tips for maintaining your mental health while unemployed or in transition at work:

1. Stick to a schedule – When we experience a major life change such as getting fired, it can be tempting to sleep/stay up late, eat junk food, and generally change our daily schedule. This is a mistake. In Stay Sane and Focused During Your Job Search, Anu Arora wrote, “Whatever happens, we must show up for life every day. That involves waking up at a sane hour, taking the time to chew healthy meals, exercising and going to sleep at a reasonable hour. Taking a shower, paying attention to hygiene and dressing up is a part of the same strategy.” If you want to get through this season while maintaining your sanity, sticking to a schedule is a must.

2. Learn to breathe – Breathing is something that is automatic and easily taken for granted. Most people don’t know that their breathing habits can be altered to increase relaxation. Calm your body and mind down by practicing 4-7-8 breathing: inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale through rounded lips for 8 seconds. Try several cycles of this, 4 at the very least, for optimal results.

3. Work out – If ever there is a time to exercise, it’s during a job search. Physical activity literally burns up stress chemicals floating around in your bloodstream. In her article How to Remain Calm During Uneasy Times, Hara Estroff Marano wrote, “The amount of movement needed to make a difference is shockingly little. Virtually anything more than you are doing now (will help). Take a 30-minute walk three times a week. Or a 10-minute walk any time you feel anxious or overwhelmed. Sure, you can go for a rugged hike, but strenuous activity isn’t required for getting the benefits of exercise.”

Being out of work or going through a career transition is tough. Make things easier on yourself by learning to breathe for relaxation, maintaining a schedule, and working out. Even taking one of these actions will considerably lessen the weight of the stress load you are currently carrying.





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  1. Just got fired recently. Been doing the same exact job for over five years. Intense physical and emotion discomfort for a couple of days. First thing I thought about in relation to keeping my sanity was some sort of routine with planned activities. Otherwise without the plan, life will control you, instead of you controlling life. This will go a long way in keeping things together while you get back on your feet.

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