If you’re searching for articles that tell you how to write a better résumé or LinkedIn profile, network more effectively, provide answers to the most difficult interview questions; you’ve come to the wrong place. In fact, this article is going to take an about face and strongly suggest you take a break once in awhile.
You read it right. Take. A. Break. Once. In. Awhile.
Today, I’m interested in what’s going on in your mind. Concerned might be a better word. I’ve been out of work, so I get how emotionally demanding the job search can be. I’ve heard the stress and anxiety in the voice of my clients, seen the unhappiness in their eyes.
Taking a much needed break on occasion can also prevent burnout. Here are 8 suggestions for taking that much needed break.
Don’t neglect your family or significant others
Here’s a great place to start. As consumed by your job search as you are, these important people matter. Their lives are affected by your unemployment; they’re worried about you, rely on you for security and love, might be dealing with their own issues, or might think it’s their fault.
Keep an open dialog with your young children. Plan family outings, even if you’re not up to them. You might find that a long drive, apple picking, going to the beach, picnicking, or other activities will take your mind off being unemployed.
Call on available friends or family members if your children are grown. Meet them for coffee. Keep the conversation light, as tempting as it might be to talk about your situation. No friends or family available. Join a support group. They exist.
Take care of some business
Do you remember that dentist appointment you put off for five years? When was the last time you had a physical? Does your car need an oil change you couldn’t get around to getting it done? You have some time to do this now. Take the whole day off to take care of business.
Here’s another consideration; don’t go without health insurance. It’s expensive, but it allows you to take care of some of the aforementioned. In Massachusetts you can shop around for less expensive health insurance through http://www.masshealthconnector.org. See if you have a similar service in your state.
Become comfortable being alone
Rule one of the job search: you will be alone. So embrace your alone time. Take some time off from the job search by taking a walk, gardening, fixing things that are broken in your home, going to your favorite coffee shop, or even going on a retreat.
One of my good friends, Jim Peacock, takes a day off without devices in order to reflect. He goes to a room where there are no distractions and writes. Yes, he writes with pen and paper. Am I suggesting to go to this extreme? No. I am suggesting that however you choose to be alone is fine.
When I was out of work, I would tell my wife I was going to take a walk, a very long walk. I had time to clear my head from the anxiety I was feeling. I valued this alone time and felt no guilt spending two hours walking around the city.
Allow yourself to enjoy the activities you do
If anyone in your life criticizes you for taking a break, don’t let it get to you. You don’t need to defend yourself. Some people who are gainfully employed don’t understand that job seekers need to take short breaks for their own well being.
When I ask my clients what they did the past week for their job search, some of them sheepishly say they took some time off to be with family, vacationed at the beach, or simply took a break at home. They probably expect me to criticize them for taking a well-deserved break.
“Excellent,” I tell them. “How do you feel now?” Usually my clients are ready to attack their search with vigor. Don’t look at your job search as an all-out sprint; rather treat it as a marathon, which requires pacing yourself.
Invite people over for dinner
Holding your own dinner parties is a great way to take a break. To be clear, the purpose of these parties is not to network. These are times when the job search takes a back seat. If people ask you how your search is going, politely tell them your focus is on them and making sure they enjoy the night.
A former client of mine invited me over for a holiday dinner. Neither she or I had an interest in talking about her unemployment. I’m sure she needed a break from the job search and wanted to enjoy the company of others. Shortly after the dinner she landed a job.
Take a trip with family or friends
One of my biggest regrets when I was unemployed was calling off a camping trip my wife and I had planned before I was laid off. I argued it would have accrued unpredictable costs. This was wrong for me to punish myfamily and wallow in my grief. I’ll never get that trip back, but I can advise people to TAKE TRIPS.
A close LinkedIn connection, Austin Belcak, advocates, in a recent LinkedIn post, for taking time off to attend to one’s mental health. Austin is successfully employed but says he needs to take a break every once in awhile, just as job seekers have to do.
Have a pity party
“What?” you say. “Sit around and complain about my unemployment?” Exactly. Not too frequently, though. I firmly believe that you shouldn’t keep your emotions bottled up, as the saying goes. Everyone needs an outlet, including you.
How does a pity party go? Invite other people to your home (perhaps they’re in your buddy group), dressed in pajamas or whatever is comfortable, and let your emotions loose over a glass of wine.
I heard about this at a conference for career coaches, and at first I thought the idea was crazy. Now I see the value in it. It’s therapy in a different way. I repeat, this is not a frequent activity. When it becomes frequent, it is self-destructive.
Seek professional health
Are you unable to get out of bed or spending too much time on the couch? This might be a sign that you should seek therapy. Job coaches, friends, close neighbors, and family can only offer so much health. Take the day off for a therapy session.
Many of my clients say they are talking with a therapist. How do I know? I ask them. You might think I’m overstepping the boundaries, but I’m beyond caring about offending them. I’ve persuaded many people to seek therapy, while offending one person I can think of.
If you’ve read this far, I assume you see the value in taking a break in your job search or suggesting you clients take a break in their job search. If you want to read articles on how to properly conduct the job search, visit my blog: www.thingscareerrelated.com.
Photo: Flickr, Osane Hernández