How to Avoid ‘Going Nuts’ While Unemployed

UnemploymentTHE current unemployment rate in St Lucia is unacceptably high. Everyone agrees. This begs the question, how do the unfortunate jobless persons in our midst deal with the rising cost of living, substantial student loans in some cases, the need to support dependents, along with a myriad of other factors?

It takes a strong person to overcome these bleak circumstances. As such, this article has been dedicated to exactly those people. In spite of conventions about the use of “you” in an editorial, I will unapologetically refer to you, the fighting tiger holding on to his/ her sanity while unemployed, and will suggest a number of ways to occupy yourself and avoid going nuts during your period of unemployment.

Speak to family and friends.
Many people who have experienced a long period of unemployment can definitely relate to some of the feelings of frustration associated with it, added on to the giant dose of humility or humiliation that accompanies this time. They may be dependent on someone else, stuck with parents, a significant other or friends. If you value independence this would definitely be a bitter pill to swallow. For others, this situation may be exacerbated if they are stuck in a toxic environment with unsympathetic roommates, those who constantly make sarcastic comments about getting a job even though you spend just about every waking moment trying to find one.

In times like these, even the most strong-willed persons could benefit from a good old dose of encouragement, and one of the best ways to acquire this is to reach out to family and / or friends. Just about everyone has at least one person they can reach out to to vent frustrations about life. There is a reason why shrinks exist. Talking is a therapeutic coping mechanism. Though you may not be able to afford a shrink or may not be bothered with seeing one, your completely free therapy session, gripe session or your time to blow off steam may just be a phone call, bus ride, or a few steps away at your neighbour’s house. You will be glad you reached out. After all, work has a way of sucking up all that precious time you wish you could spend with the people who really matter: your family and friends.

So reading is not exactly your cup of tea (or maybe it is). Notwithstanding, it does not hurt to add this activity to your routine. In what seems like infinite blocks of time when you have exhausted your energy levels or become bored with job haunting, electronic stalking on Facebook, watching the latest episode and endless reruns of Scandal or any other favorite TV shows, it’s great to add this beneficial practice to your day. So you’ve had your share of books in secondary school, college, or graduate school and the mare thought of picking up a book makes you want to puke. Mental stimulation never hurts.

One November 27, 2012 article from Prevention.com suggests that reading aids in age-related mental decline. In this article, Markham Reid states, “everyday activities [like reading] might be your best defense against age-related mental decline, according to new studies presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.” Regardless of a person’s current age, it’s never too late to start a healthy habit and your period of employment might be a great time to start. Further, learning need not end upon graduation. Outside of the knowledge you can acquire (including information about that new career you might be trying to break into or any other interest that you may have), once you discover a genre or author that you love, reading can be a great distractor from any worries about your current state of unemployment. Your brain and your sanity will thank you for it.

Start a business.
Now I can almost hear the cynics/realists (whatever you would like to call them) screaming, “you need money to make money!” They are right; nevertheless, this is not always the case. In the case of certain services, there are little to no initial costs associated with starting your own business. Think for a moment about those valuable talents that you have, and then devise a plan to capitalize on them. Granted, having and managing a business may be a complicated and daunting task, but sometimes, getting into action may be easier than you think.

For instance, my ex college roommate, Michaela, braided other students’ hair to earn an income. Her clients brought the hair extensions, and all she needed was a comb, hair grease, a pair of scissors and a few hair bands, items that she already owned or could otherwise purchase for no more than US$5! In some cases, the clients provided these items. How did she advertise? She performed her services, free of charge, to her lucky roommate (moi), who in turn bragged about how great she braided and how affordable her rates were when random strangers complimented me about my hair.

Word gets around when you’re great at what you do and there are umpteen perks associated with owning your own business (more on that in a subsequent article). What is the ultimate appeal of having your own business? Technically, you are no longer unemployed, you’re self-employed. Add that to your resume Mr./Ms. CEO!

Naturally, occupying yourself and beating the unemployment blues while avoiding insanity, may require more than just griping with family and friends, reading, and starting your own business.

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