Some people who are unemployed become mentally exhausted, while others are physically exhausted. Then there’s those who are both; it wears on the body and the brain.
Now you might see someone in this situation and wonder at it. After all, if a person is tired, they aren’t working so they could just recline and have a nap, wake up refreshed and carry on. It isn’t so simple when they wake up however and within seconds find themselves jolted with the awareness that they have no job and have to look for one and the anxiety they may have escaped while sleeping is ever-present yet again.
Look at the face of a person who has been unemployed for a period of time during which they’ve been really trying hard. You may see stress lines on their forehead, furrowed eyebrows, less smiling than you remember. All of these are the body’s way of coping with stress. And there’s more of course; the person may eat less or more, causing abnormal weight loss or gain, and then there’s something else to worry about, the person’s self-image.
When you look in the mirror as a person with a job, you may see a successful person, a provider. Be chronically unemployed and you see the opposite perhaps; someone who is unsuccessful and dependent. Most of us have no desire to be or remain dependent on others, and so this period of life if it’s happening to us can cause us to be constantly agitated, out-of-sorts, irritable, and while we are aware it’s happening, the reason isn’t always evident.
The idea of catching up on needed sleep is a good one, and it would work too; if it wasn’t for the fact that as the body settles down and fewer distractions are present (like street or television noise), our thoughts seem to become magnified and focused on whatever is on our minds which, in this case, is our lack of a job. And so the result is tossing and turning, spending long periods of trying to enter that elusive period of REM sleep where our bodies do most of the healing and our brains really do turn off for a while.
And for many, the little things in our personal lives that bring us comfort and satisfaction; reading a book, gardening, listening to music – those things just don’t bring us as much joy because we experience is off-set by the guilt we might feel because we should be doing something.
It’s like we know we have a problem which is our unemployment, and we know we should be actively doing something about it because it’s not going to fix itself without our effort. And yet, when we take some valuable time to do something personally satisfying we can’t enjoy it as much because of this feeling we should be doing something to address the big problem which is the lack of a job. If we could see that in fact we are doing something to address the problem in having a little ‘me’ time to recharge our spirit, we might do better, but the brain is a hard thing to dupe.
And if you are unemployed, you know it gets harder to find moments to really enjoy yourself without guilt. No matter what you are doing, your brain seems to scream, “Stop this and get a job!” That pressure is coming from within more than it’s coming from those around us most of the time. While our parents, spouses, friends, social workers etc., want us to get a job, the pressure we put on ourselves is greater.
It is more than just good advice to take some time and do the things you find enjoyable with as little guilt as you can, in fact it’s critically important. Whether you are working or unemployed, balancing your life with things you take pleasure in gives you energy reserves, let’s you focus back on tasks with more enthusiasm, and you may find you’re more productive than you would be otherwise going at something – in this case getting a job – with no diversion.
So go for walk or bicycle ride. Call up some friends and get together to play some beach volleyball, pick up soccer game, or maybe ask them to go fishing. There are all kinds of things you can do to stay connected to others and still keep your expenses down. I hope you are wise enough to know that to justify recreational activities you have to do them with moderation. I’m not advocating someone spend 2 hours a week on a job search and the balance of the time doing whatever they want because it’s important to indulge yourself with doing things you love.
Oh and one final thought here is to get in and see your doctor whether you have any obvious signs of illness or not. Far from clogging up the health care system, you should get in so you get the old once over. If you get a clean bill of health, you’ll feel better instantly, and if things should change down the road you have a point in time to look at what’s changed. If there are any issues with your physical or mental health, this is the time to have someone qualified look at things.
All the very best in your job searching efforts. Stay healthy!