Tag Archives: Wellness

25 activities to make your life and job search easier during COVID-19

Tempers are starting to run high in our household. When we were first quarantined about three weeks ago, life went surprisingly well. Think about it; even the most congruent families will start to feel like caged tigers after awhile. Well, our time just arrived.

Yoga

I came home from a five-mile walk to hear the crashing of pots and pans. When I asked my wife what was wrong, she said the pans weren’t cleaned properly. An outburst like this is not common in our household. Yes, the time of implosion has definitely arrived.

In an article from Psychology Today, the author lays out the psychological symptoms of social distancing and being quarantined:

Perhaps you’re experiencing some of these symptoms or all of them—especially if you’re working from home for the first time, homeschooling your kids on top of this; on furlough; or unemployed.

For whichever reason it is, you didn’t choose the situation you’re in. But you realize you can’t let yourself and family members become angry at the slightest drop of the hat. You have to reduce the anxiety and possible depression you’re experiencing.

For me a daily four- to five-mile walk does the job. It gets me going in the morning before settling down in my chair, which is my office, to conduct the work I have to do. My wife enjoys cooking better meals than what I produced as well as taking walks with one of her friends.

We also love talking with our two daughters and parents—who are within driving distance but self-quarantined—via Facetime, Zoom, or the phone. Here are some ways you can reduce the stress in your life.

Ways for everyone to make self-quarantine more bearable

Stop using your treadmill as a coat hanger. You’ve been looking at that thing for years wondering why you’re not using it. Now’s the chance to use it if you don’t have anywhere to walk.

Catch up on old The Office episodes. This is one of my favorite shows, especially the seasons starring Steve Carell as Michael Scott. I also recommend Ozark on Netflix or Luther on Amazon Prime.

Search through your bookshelf. I don’t understand why people, like a colleague of mine, re-reads books. That’s not me. Maybe you’re a re-reader.

Start that puzzle you purchased at the beginning of the pandemic. My wife bought one that has yet to be assembled. Maybe we’ll get to it. Maybe.

Stay in touch with family. One of the things I love doing is talking with Mom during my walks. As mentioned earlier, my wife and I Zoom and Facetime with the girls. It’s the next best thing to being there.

Tell your spouse you’re taking a walk. A long walk. You need to get away from your kids if you’re home-schooling them. That’s okay. Take turns; don’t do it by yourself.

Gas up the minivan. We called it forced family fun (FFF) when the kids were younger. We’d corral them in the van and tell them we were going for a ride. Of course they’d want to know where we were going. The answer was, “You’ll find out when we get there.”

Bake a cake. Or brownies, apple crisp, cookies, or whatever strikes your fancy. Our son who is home from university was exposed to baking. It didn’t take.

Take yoga online. My daughter has taken a liking to watch and perform yoga exercises. I tell her it looks too painful for me. This video with Yoga with Adriene has close to 3.5 million views.

Take a hike. For the more adventurous people, find an area that isn’t heavily populated—maintain social distancing—and enjoy nature while you’re walking ascending trails and climbing rocky terrain. Just don’t fall.

Break open a great bottle of wine. You have the right to relax. How you decide to do it is up to you. After the kids have gone to bed, take the moment for yourself and your loved one.

Ways for job seekers to utilize this time

Look at this time of self-quarantine as an opportunity to ramp up your job search. Despite the hit our economy has taken, it is going to rebound and employers will need to fill positions that employers were originally going to.

Note: for other great advice, check out a post that is heating up.

Develop a wellness strategy. Sabrina Woods advises job seekers to create “more calm and enhance productivity by:

  • Creating and following a schedule every day.
  • Paying attention to how much news/media you consume, as these will impact your state of mind.
  • Staying connected with friends and family (set up phone and video chat dates).”

Take on a project. A valued connection of mine, Sarah Johnston, writes that she’s painting old furniture as a way to take control of the chaos we’re experiencing. Take your mind off the job search by doing something that is cathartic.

Take inventory. My valued colleague, Maureen McCann advises to “research what you have to offer the market.” She created a great video summarizing how to do this. Check it out.

Read books relevant to your job search. Jim Peacock, another valued connection, is always peddling books and even writes reviews. Or read some fiction to take your mind off your search.

Join a free or inexpensive virtual program. Speaking of learning, Edward Lawrence suggests joining virtual trainings which are inexpensive or free through the Massachusetts Council on Aging, The Professional Development Collaborative of Boston, or MassHire in Massachusetts.

Now’s a great time to update your résumé and LinkedIn Profile. My connection Susan Joyce advises taking this time to finetune your LinkedIn profile. She suggests, among others, that you focus on your problem, actions, results (PARs) to write accomplishments.

Grow your LinkedIn campaign. People who I’ve coached know that I’m a staunch advocate for building one’s like-minded network and then engaging with them. Great opportunities arise from LinkedIn.

Networking must go on. I wrote an article that talks about how I run job club meetings via Zoom. We jokingly call ourselves the Brady Bunch, but it’s all serious business. Mark Babbit suggests reaching out to mentors and former colleagues via video platforms.

Be proactive and reach out to recruiters. They have time on their hands and any recruiter worth their weight in salt will welcome new connections that fit their industry. More importantly, recruiters are hiring for certain industries; maybe yours.

Be prepared for video interviews. “Practice zoom interviewing, use zoom to grab informational meetings, get very comfortable in front of the lens, it’s going to be more prevalent than ever, says Andy Foote. He offers some tips which you can read in the post.

Talking about being prepared; know your story: Gina Riley advises job seekers to get an understanding of employers’ pain points and be able to explain through your stories who you can solve them.

Attend virtual events. Do you want to take a deep dive into networking? Brenda Meller suggests attending virtual professional association events and gives as examples some events she’d attend: Detroit Together Digital, American Marketing Association, or Troy Chamber of Commerce

Take online courses. This suggestion comes from my valued connection Paula Christensen. If you’re not taking advantage of LinkedIn’s free Premium upgrade, do it. You can take advantage of LinkedIn Learning.

Take care of yourself. Vincent Phamvan says it well: “Spend some of your time on activities outside of your job search. Spend time with family, take walks, try to eat healthy meals. This will keep you mentally fit and ready to rock your upcoming interviews.”

Back away from high expectations. This one comes from Patricia Harding, and I thought it was so insightful that I’ll allow her to say it: “I think it’s also ok to back away from high expectations of yourself (and others) and slow down and do nothing now and then.”

Read what many other career-search pundits have to way about the job search in this COVID-19 time.

Photo: Flickr, Timothy George

8 ways to take a break during your job search

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.

Relax

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