How to Maintain Your Sanity While Unemployed (Suggestion 4)

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Writing

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you’ve thought about writing at least once in your life. According to This Article on publishingperspectives.com, around 81% of Americans say they would like to write a book. I’m sure that percentage increases even further if you add the individuals that only want to write blogs and articles. However, the likelihood of the 200 million plus Americans writing said novel or blog is very slim. Only 80,000 books get published per year in the United States and (assuming one author to each book) that is roughly .025% of the overall population. Chances are even slimmer that one of those few books published will become a bestselling novel or get a movie deal. But that is the dream that lures each one of those 81% to want to write. And though that dream is hard to reach, there are those few that do achieve it.

For those of us who are unemployed, there is good news. We have an advantage in when it comes to writing…the ability to create our own daily schedules. Those that are employed have to write around their work schedule, their family schedule, and other activities. I’m not saying that unemployed individuals have nothing but free time. As an unemployed individual, I know how busy and stressed you are applying for jobs, interviewing, worrying about money, and taking care of family members. However, when compared to others with a strict 40-hour workweek, we have a little more leeway in choosing when we do those things. This is an advantage because we can schedule a time when we can sit down and write.

Writing is a good activity for the unemployed because it has the added benefit of giving you a sense of accomplishment—something that is greatly needed for an unemployed individual who does not have that opportunity. One of the reasons why unemployment is so stressful is because most individuals define themselves by their work accomplishments. Being unemployed means we have to find a sense of identity outside of a work environment—this is hard for people. Writing can give the author back a sense of self that they are missing. In my case, I use this blog. It has been able to provide me with the feeling of achievement that I miss from my job. Each post I put up (no matter how small) boosts my self-esteem, and if a reader comments, my mood goes up even more (hint, hint).

But what stops those who want to write from writing? I would say that the main reason is that they don’t have confidence in their ability to write well. To those who are in that position I say—DO IT ANYWAY! As with most things, skill only improves with practice. I don’t claim to be an amazing author—my degree is in Sociology not English—but each time I write something, I feel myself getting better. I have plans of sharing some of my writings on this blog in the near future, and many will find what I write to be silly, but that wont stop me and it shouldn’t stop you either.

So for all of those readers out there that want to write, here are a couple of sources from people who do write for a living.

http://www.iuniverse.com/ExpertAdvice/20WritingTipsfrom12FictionAuthors.aspx

http://thoughtcatalog.com/cody-delistraty/2013/09/21-harsh-but-eye-opening-writing-tips-from-great-authors/

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/34-writing-tips-that-will-make-you-a-better-writer/

http://withoutbullshit.com/blog/10-top-writing-tips-psychology/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/writing-advice-from-famous-authors#.nmj8Jj3kW

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How to Maintain Your Sanity While Unemployed (Suggestion 3)

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Cleaning

WAIT! Before you roll your eyes and click away, let me explain. I know what you’re thinking. “Cleaning!? Who in their right mind likes cleaning?”…I DON’T! I hate cleaning. So why, you ask, did I add it to my list? Simple…it’s one of the most important things you will EVER do in your unemployed existence.

Like you, the last thing I imagined spending my free time on was scrubbing toilets (despite the fact that there was now more time to do it). All those fun things I dreamed about while working—spending more time on hobbies, hanging out with friends and family, sleeping in, and learning new skills—were at the top of the list. As a result, dirty dishes piled up in the sink, the laundry went unwashed for weeks, and trash accumulated around the house, and why not? I didn’t have anyone to impress anymore. But as bills came due and those “fun” things I imagined didn’t live up to the expectation, the clutter just compounded the stress and anxiety. Depression set in as rejection email after rejection email showed up in my in-box. In a way, my house became a reflection of my self-esteem. With every rejection a new pile of trash would appear. Something needed to change.

After reading about the link between unemployment and mental health (there is a link to one of the articles in my last posting). I started to research depression and found that cleaning was one of the first things doctors recommended to alleviate stress (Click here to learn more about the health benefits of cleaning). Therefore, I have included it as one of my top ten things to do while unemployed. Setting up a schedule creates a purpose to wake up and get out of bed. Cleaning may seem trivial, but when all is said and done, it may be the ONE thing that helps keep depression at bay while unemployed. So break out your bleach and get to work…your sanity may depend upon it.

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How to Maintain Your Sanity While Unemployed (Suggestion 2)

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Camping

The Fourth of July is fast approaching, and everyone is rushing to buy burgers, hotdogs, beer, and fireworks. But for a good portion of the population, their Fourth of July wouldn’t be complete without another item—a tent. In my house, camping was a MUST, and many of my childhood summers were spent in a tent with my siblings. According to my parents, it was a time to relax and get away from technology (this was before cell phones). Needless to say, I didn’t appreciate the sentiment at the time (my Game Boy always managed to come along). But, as I’ve gotten older and the technology more advanced, I begin to see the need to get away—especially now that I’m unemployed. This is why camping is the second activity on my list.

Camping is a great for us (the unemployed) for many reasons. The first reason is simple—EVERYONE needs to get away for a while. This concept may be hard for some of us to accept. If you’re like me, you feel guilty even thinking about taking a vacation while unemployed. This is because our society propagates the idea that if you’re not spending all your time applying for jobs and interviewing, then you are a deadbeat. Even today, many people view vacations as a luxury that is only acceptable for those who have worked hard to “earn it.” The unemployed are exempt from this list because their lives are perceived to be stress-free—everyday is a vacation for them. But if you have ever gone for long periods of time without a job, you know that this statement is far from the truth. As this article from 2012 explains, unemployment is a serious health risk. Long periods of unemployment can double a person’s chance of having a major depressive episode and has been linked to alcohol abuse and suicide. So it is just as important for an unemployed individual to vacation as it is for someone who is employed (Here are the positive effects of a vacation).

Secondly, camping is relatively inexpensive. The cost of renting a campsite averages between $10-$30 a night. Some places can be more expensive—especially near the holidays or if you get a site that has electrical ports. But other places can offer weekend deals during slow weeks. This weekend, I went camping with friends at a local park, and our site was only $20 for the whole weekend. The relatively low costs of camping can actually make it possible to make money. An elderly couple on the site next to ours explained that they rented out their house every summer. In the process, they would make enough extra cash to afford larger trips later in the year.

However, the low cost of renting campsites does not mean there are no large costs to camping at all. I am lucky enough to already own camping gear. But for those who don’t, tents can be expensive, and the added costs of lanterns, sleeping bags, and coolers full of groceries can become astronomical for someone without a job. But there is good news, a tent is one of those items that many people buy but hardly ever use. This means you most likely know at least one person that has one. Asking to borrow camping gear shouldn’t be too much of a problem—unless you don’t have a good relationship with that person. But if push-comes-to-shove and you still can’t get a tent, all you really need to camp is a sleeping bag and an accurate weather forecast.

Lastly, while on my camping trip, I realized that there is a special benefit specifically for the unemployed. The park I stayed in had no cell phone service, and absolutely no Wi-Fi. At first, I was paralyzed with fear. What if an employer calls? What if they email me? I had come to depend on technology for my self-esteem since becoming unemployed. I wasn’t happy unless I applied to four or five new jobs daily and checked my phone hundreds of times for a response. But, while sitting around the campfire—no phone and no computer in front of me—I felt better than I had in a long while. My friends were around me, laughing and talking, and it reminded me that I am more than what is on a piece of paper—I was more than my résumé. And that is the most important thing that we—as unemployed individuals—need to be reminded of. With all the time we spend trying to sell ourselves to employers, we need to stop, unplug, and interact with others to feel like real people.

Stella Fanning

How to Maintain Your Sanity While Unemployed (Suggestion Number 1)

We’ve all been there…unemployed, broke, and wondering where the next rent check will come from. If you haven’t, then congratulations, this post isn’t for you. But for the rest of us, we know how crazy-making being unemployed can be. After applying to god-knows-how-many jobs, scouring the Internet for articles on writing résumés, cover letters, and interview tips, and then waiting weeks upon weeks without a single response. It’s easy to lose touch with good sense. I am currently on week eight of unemployment, and have come to the point where I’m wondering whether or not I could get my old high school job back (despite the fact that I’m now 30 years old).

But there are ways to make the time go faster. Ways that are both financially beneficial and emotionally rewarding. Each week, I will make a post with a new suggestion to help you through this difficult period (as I continue being unemployed, I’m certain this list will grow quite large).

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Frisbee Golf

Getting outside is great to begin with, but I mention Frisbee golf because it has many benefits that can help you as an unemployed individual. Don’t believe me? Let me explain. First of all, Frisbee golf is still a relatively new sport. Not too many people know about it or play it, but those that do come from a wide range of backgrounds. This is because Frisbee golf has little to no costs—anyone can play. Most Frisbee golf courses are free. They are usually located in public parks, and are easily accessible. The only foreseeable costs are the prices of the Frisbee golf discs. Unfortunately, regular Frisbees wont do for Frisbee golf. You need special discs specifically made for the sport. Not to worry, you can usually find these at your local sporting goods store, and are around $10-$15 a disc. But if you would prefer to pay nothing, I’ll give you my tip (which I highly recommend even if you can afford the discs). Go to a Frisbee golf course and spot a large group of people, ask them about Frisbee golf, and see if it would be ok for you to play with them. Most people who play the sport become very fond of it and love to have the opportunity to teach people. They usually carry a bag full of discs and have no problem with letting people borrow one.

Right now you might be saying, “ok, this is interesting but how does this help people who are unemployed?” Well, there are the obvious benefits: getting exercise, vitamin D from the sun, and it’s a fun way to pass the time. But more specifically, it has an uncanny ability to connect you to other people. As I stated earlier, the people that play have a wide variety of backgrounds. It’s not uncommon for a person who is unemployed to be playing in a group with someone who works in their field of interest. Through the medium of Frisbee golf, they are able to share information that is helpful. And, if nothing else, talking to others with a similar background can give hope that there are employers out there that are looking for someone like you.

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If you would like more information about Frisbee golf, I have included some resources I found to be helpful:

http://thespintv.com/

http://www.discgolf.com/

http://www.pdga.com/introduction

My First Post

“Hello and thank you for reading my blog! Let me start by introducing myself. My name is…hmm…well my name isn’t really important. To be honest, you didn’t stop here for my name–it was because I wrote something that interests you–but if you want to call me something…call me J. This blog has no particular rhyme or reason, just a collection of poems, journaling, interesting information, and creative writing. If you came here hoping that it was about canines and bicycles…well…those subjects might pop up from time to time. Feel free to critique what you read, and even add your own writings. This blog is for fun, and hopefully that is why you came.”

Sincerely,

J.