Tag Archives: stress

5 Easy Things You Can Do For Your Unemployed BFF

When I was in the thick of unemployment, I couldn’t afford to go out to eat or have beers with my friends. I was also stressed most of the time and pre-occupied with where my next buck was coming from. I kept hearing people ask, “I know she can’t afford to go out, but we miss seeing her” or “She won’t even let us buy her a glass of wine”. In addition to all that, I often didn’t shower or change out of my pajamas.

When at the mercy of the unemployment office, the jobless can get sensitive about taking money from others, no matter how well-intended. It’s called pride. Pride can also cause them to slowly feel disengaged from their circle of friends. So what can you, a gainfully employed person, do to show that out-of-work pal that she’s not out of luck or out of love?

  1. Invite him/her over for dinner – An invitation for a home-cooked meal is a low-key way to make your friend get dressed and leave the house without spending money. Also, my UPiC (Unemployed Partner-In-Crime) and I used to make dinner for each other. We got to eat well by sharing the expense, and we had something fun to socialize over
  2. Drop by with an inexpensive bottle of wine – They may not let you buy drinks while out at the local watering hole, but home is a different matter. And go cheap so they don’t feel like they owe you
  3. Grab her for a walk or jog – A good gab session coupled with exercise is a great way to socialize, boost endorphins, get out of the house and loosen stress 
  4. Give the gift of flowers – I’m not talking bouquetboflbs from 1-800 Flowers. I’m talking deli/grocery store blossoms. And before you think you’re too good for them, I once saw George Stephanopoulus darting across 14th Street in NYC carrying deli daisies (presumably for his fabulous wife Alexandra Wentworth). Brightly colored bouquets can help cheer up any job hunter or the job hunter’s cave (read: home)
  5. Just listen – No advice. No contacts. No “what I would do if I were you…” (even though I assume you will have gone through that exercise already). Just bend your ear for a while, offer a calming smile instead of tips and end your visit with a big hug or word of encouragement

How do I know these things work? Because my friends are awesome, and they helped make unemployment bearable for me!

I Need Help for Self-Help

self-help

Being let go from your job stirs up all sorts of emotions and makes you feel like the Road Runner is circling your gut. You begin re-evaluating yourself and setting the stage for a massive self-improvement overhaul. Personally, I constantly wondered “What’s going to make someone else hire me?”, “Will they see through me?”, “Do I have what it takes?”, “Can I handle this stress?”, etc. etc. etc. It kept me up at night and created huge distractions.

I don’t know about you, but all those feelings led me to embrace a lot of self-help tools. My magazines became my guide. O The Magazine was always a source of inspiration or deep introspection. Cosmo gave me quizzes. Redbook taught me how to be happy. I also turned to the Bible, The Secretand Joel Osteen’s weekly broadcasts at midnight (I know, I know).

I obsessively checked my horoscope on every Web site I could find. I not only read the daily updates, I read the money ‘scope, the love ‘scope and the monthly and yearly horoscopes. I read them sometimes twice a day. The Web became my virtual therapist’s office, ready at anytime to provide me with endless tips and information on how I can be a better “me”.

Even though I have a job now, I still wake up feeling antsy and somewhat nauseated, and I bring that to work. So when I’m churning like a whirling dervish, I’ve been turning to what I know.

This week, I had an epiphany. After reading one too many articles about  soul searching, happiness and the “law of attraction”, I realized that I’m addicted to this crap! I also began realizing that all this “self-help” is making me a more nervous, skeptical person. Am I doing anything right? Will anything ever go right for me? Of course I am, and of course it will, but first I’ve got to return to my senses, trust my gut more than Dr. Phil and go with it! Therefore, I’ve vowed to take a step back from all this betterment and see if it creates the serenity I need. I’m trying. Really, I am.

Do you ever feel like you’ve had enough self-help and self-improvement?

I’m a Piss-Poor Runner, But At Least the Stress is Gone

woman_jogging“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” — Elle Woods, “Legally Blonde”

I’ve been a ball of nerves lately. I can’t sleep. I don’t want to eat. The past few days I’ve found myself paralyzed, sitting at my desk with a queasy stomach, unable to force down my cinnamon raisin bagel and making do with my ever trusty Diet Coke. Yes, I know that makes nerves worse.

The truth is, uncertainty has taken over my life for the first time since I got my job. Granted, it’s mostly of a personal nature, and it will work its way out, but it just reminded me how tough uncertainty is when you’re finding a job.

You never know when the right contact will appear, when the right person will read your resume, when a job just for you might open. You just can never know. You can plan all you want, the pressure builds, you worry every night so much you can’t fall asleep no matter what boring SMC infomercial is on or sound machine is buzzing. You wake up every morning so full of anxiety you can’t move. 

All through my job search, running became my stress relief, my therapist, my comfort. Every time I tied my Asics, I grimaced and cursed. But, every time I returned, I was rejuvenated, sweaty, red-faced and smiling.

My stomach was fluttering all day AGAIN today, and it just occurred to me: Get off your ass and go run, Miss Pink Slip!

So tonight, I darted out around 8:30 p.m., an hour after eating a plateful of spaghetti and swaddling myself in a blanket on the couch to watch “How I Met Your Mother” re-runs. Even those episodes couldn’t rouse me from my depression. I had a nagging sense I needed to get out and move. I was gasping by mile one and doubled over from the pasta binge, but I kept going. I got home just as the sun set and took a long, hot bath. I feel like a new person.

I’m headed out of town tomorrow for a tough work week, and my tennis shoes are going with me. I know I’m going to need them.

What’s your sure-fire stress relief?

BREAKING NEWS: Breathing is the Answer to Unemployment Stress

Early this morning, I was sitting in a production room doing my best not to mess up. This was the first time I was undertaking a key task in my new job and was under the watchful eye of my boss (who’s awesome, BTW). However, my back immediately began to stiffen, I got more jittery (the third Diet Coke didn’t help) and my panic button was blinking, just waiting to be pushed. It was the same feeling I got almost every other day of unemployment. Then, I remembered something very simple. I hadn’t breathed! Not though my mouth, nose, ears, nothing!

I closed my eyes and drew a deep breath through my nose, letting the immediate calm wash over. I blew out through my mouth, careful to exhale every trace of breath in my body. I took another, then another. Slowly, surely. It was like being miserably hot and sweaty and jumping into a refreshingly cool swimming pool. Bliss…well, maybe a decent amount of calm ensued.

Sometimes we forget that the most obvious solutions to our problems are right in front of us and neither cost anything nor require anyone’s help. I had to remind myself of this each day after I found out I was getting laid off. Each time I sat in a chair waiting for an informational interview or anticipating the arrival of a random friend-of-a-friend with whom I was connecting for coffee (which I don’t even drink!).  I’m surprised I didn’t put Post-Its all over my apartment with “Breathe” screaming out from the neon yellow paper.

So next time you’re freaking out about your next job interview, your unemployment check that hasn’t arrived, work leads or paying the rent, please just breathe. Smile while you’re doing it. I promise it helps! You’ll be glad you did.

**Disclaimer: In the same vein as “no animals were harmed during the making of this film”, I’d like to say that I was not under the influence of Faith Hill’s “Breathe” or Anna Nalick’s “Just Breathe” during the writing of this blog post. Nor was I listening to the British super pop trio Breathe. Just wanted to make that clear.

Revisit Your Inner Kid

There are so many magazines out right now touting solutions for stress, and their tips are universally good: running1

  • Breathe deep (duh, but it works)
  • Talk with friends
  • Exercise
  • Say prayers
  • Write in a journal

But if you’re unemployed and sitting around bored or depressed, try something else today that I think will work just as well and be a lot more fun.

Go back to the days when you were a kid. When you had no other obligations than a little math homework and maybe piano lessons. When you rode your bike outside for hours with your friends until dark, then went home to collapse into bed or watch “Diff’rent Strokes”. Take a few hours to revisit that time and feel what it’s like to be silly and immature again. No one will scold you or send you to your room. I do guarantee that you’ll find yourself with a big, fat smile on your face. Here are a few of Miss Pink Slip’s ideas:margaret

  • Join a local kickball league (usually sponsored by a bar–yay, fun!)
  • Pick up a Judy Blume or Choose Your Own Adventure book. Man, a good reading of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret will really put things in perspective. That chick had some way serious issues (snark). For bonus points, find yourself an installment of Sweet Valley High. The frisky adventures of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield should perk up any bad day! 
  • Play ball with your furry BFF at the neighborhood dog park
  • Sit in the park and eat a sickeningly sweet ice cream cone or Push-Up with friends
  • Grab your friends and go rollerskating…preferably at a rink with an “old school” night
  • Sit in your room listening to cheesy, loud music and daydreaming about your favorite heartthrob while gabbing on the phone with an old friend (painting your nails is another degree of difficulty here)

You see what I mean. If you have other good ideas to share, let me know in the “comments” section. The possibilities are endless!

Something Tells Me You Could Use This…

7 Things to Do When You’re Angry

http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/personal/02/16/tf.anger.management/index.html