Staying Healthy While Unemployed

11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment

We already know: research links unemployment and poor health.

For the person experiencing long-term unemployment, the risk of poorer health increases. When you’ve been job searching for a lengthy period with no job offer, you face several impacts:

Dwindling Money.

Increasing Financial Obligations.

Failing and Disappearing Relationships/Friendships.

Looming Uncertainty.

staying healthy while unemployed
11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment. Graph Provided Courtesy of Pew Research Center.

Without question, these things affect you. It’s important, however, to care for your health and well-being despite your circumstances.

Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself

If you’re interested in staying as healthy as possible throughout this unemployment transition, then here are some helpful tips.

Staying Healthy While Unemployed
11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment. Unsplash Original Photo Courtesy of Tongle Dakum. Edited by Priscilla.

Seek Silence and Solitude Daily.

I’m an introvert. I prefer and love silence and solitude.

But, solitude isn’t only necessary for an introvert like me. It’s also beneficial for social people.

One of the best things you can do to take care of yourself during this time is: get away from the noise for solitude. Withdraw from the TV, from the laptop, from the telephone, from all types of communication – for silence.

Why? Silence allows you to evaluate yourself for neglect and refocusing in various areas – without distractions or interruptions.

These moments – even a few minutes here and there throughout the day – are special. They provide great opportunities for praying, reading and meditating on Scripture, listening to music, and/or just sitting quietly.

There are benefits too. Here are a few:

  • Rejuvenation (resulting from slowing down and resting)
  • Peace and Strength (needed to get through unemployment)
  • Refocus (on what’s important)
  • Reflection (on much-needed changes and eliminations)

Gallup research shows: healthy, social relationships have a positive impact on your health.

But, don’t neglect the importance of balance.

It’s also good to spend some time alone. Even a few minutes a day is beneficial for your health and well-being.

Staying Healthy While Unemployed
11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment. Creative Commons’ Pixabay Photo Courtesy of Antranias. Edited by Priscilla.

For some of us, it’s hard to find areas to ourselves and requires intention. Still, I encourage you to make silence and solitude a priority.

Improve Your Self-Talk.

Here’s a fact for you: Dr. Lee Pulos, a clinical psychologist found your self-talk consists of “150 to 300 words per minute or 45,000 to 51,000 thoughts a day!” 

A lot of inner dialogue, right?

The problem is: many of the words in your dialogue aren’t helpful or truthful, particularly in a situation, such as unemployment. They don’t add anything valuable to your life.

If you keep telling yourself ‘you’re a failed loser who’ll never land a job,’ for example, then you’ll believe it in your vulnerable state. And, you’ll find it difficult to move forward in unemployment.

As such, it’s important to pay attention to this type of talk for improvement. Identify it so you don’t fall for the negativity and lies.

Upon capturing the hurtful talk, you can deny it and express it in a way aligning with truth. So, instead of believing ‘you’re a failure because you can’t land a job,’ you’ll express this differently: ‘Yes, I’ve failed to land a job so far, but I believe there’s a job out there for me – somewhere.’

Staying Healthy While Unemployed
11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment. Unsplash Original Photo Courtesy of Jake Ingle. Edited by Priscilla.

This thought is more validating and empowering. It’s also healthier in every way – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

You see: hurtful thoughts create stress and can manifest themselves physically. In Who Switched Off My Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf writes:

 “Research shows that around 87% of illnesses can be attributed to our thought life, and approximately 13% to diet, genetics and environment. Studies conclusively link more chronic diseases (also known as lifestyle diseases) to an epidemic of toxic emotions in our culture. These toxic emotions can cause migraines, hypertension, strokes, cancer, skin problems, diabetes, infections and allergies, just to name a few.”

So, harmful thoughts affect not only your attitude in unemployment but your health and well-being also. Better your health by improving your internal dialogue.

Practice Gratitude.

Being grateful is hard when times are tough. But, it’s one of the healthiest practices around.

For some time now, I’ve been on an intentional mission of counting my blessings as opposed to counting my burdens.

Interested in knowing the results? I’ve been uplifted.

Less frustration.

Less discontentment.

A new perspective on life.

I’ve personally learned: even at rock bottom, there are still things to give God thanks for. It’s all about perspective and what you choose to focus on.

With gratitude, your focus changes from the things you lack to the good things you have. This attitude choice results in several health benefits:

  • Managed Stress. You manage your stress levels better when you focus on your good gifts.
  • A Boosted Immune System. Gratitude is associated with optimism. And, optimism is associated with a better immune system.
  • Improved Sleep. When you sleep better and longer, you function better. Gratitude improves sleep.
  • A Stronger Heart. Anxiety, stress, and depression contribute to heart disease. But, a “grateful heart is a healthy heart.”
  • More Resilience. You bounce back better when you seek out good things in a difficult situation.

I encourage you to practice gratitude if you don’t already. Take some time today (and every day) to think about the good things in your life right now: life (itself), health, food, clothing, technology, for example. Don’t hesitate to genuinely give thanks to God for His provision.

Feed Your Body Its Fuel.

What fuel does your body need? Food.

Carolyn Denton, a Licensed Nutritionist, states the following in her article, How Does Food Impact Health:

Staying Healthy While Unemployed
11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment. StokPic Original Photo Courtesy of Ed Gregory. Edited by Priscilla.

“The food we eat gives our bodies the ‘information’ and materials they need to function properly.”

Food provides the carbohydrates, fat, fiber, nutrients, and protein your body needs. Energy, growth, bone and muscle-building, and bodily task performances are the results.

So, I encourage you to get your nutrition daily – according to your food budget. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • How Much (Or How Little) You’re Eating Matters. Prevention provides a handy portion control guide if you’re interested.
  • Cook Home (or Eat Home) Cooked Meals as Often as You Can. Eating out is the norm nowadays, but it isn’t the healthiest choice. There’s nothing wrong with eating out sometimes if you choose to, but please know: it pays to cook. Interested in learning more? Check out this resource on the USDA’s Choose My Plate website: Cook More Often At Home.
  • Plan Your Meals Before Grocery Shopping. Planning your meals saves time and money. Interested in more on meal planning? Check out How I Plan Meals to Save Money on the Ready for Zero Blog.
Staying Healthy While Unemployed
11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment. Foodie’s Food Original Photo Courtesy of Jakub Kapusnak. Edited by Priscilla.

 

  • Limit Your ‘Sweeter and Saltier’ (also known as Junk Food) Food Intake. Moderation is one of the best things to keep in mind when it comes to snacks you enjoy. It’s all about balance.

When you don’t give your body the fuel it needs daily, you become frustrated and irritated easily. So, remember to eat every day!

Quench Your Thirst With Water.

Do you know the popularity of water? As of 2013, it was the most popular American beverage. And, the International Bottled Water Association predicts bottled water will outsell other packaged drinks this year.

Why has water become one of the most popular beverages? It’s the healthiest drink.

According to a Women’s Health Magazine article, water does a few things for the body:

  • “It helps regulate your body temperature.”
  • “It keeps your joints cushioned.”
  • It “protects your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues.”
  • It “gets rid of waste through sweating, peeing, and the like.”

If you’re wondering how much water you should drink daily, then the Mayo Clinic suggests the following:

  • “An adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day.”

 

Staying Healthy While Unemployed
11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment. Creative Commons’ Pixabay Photo Courtesy of Hans.
  • “The AI for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.”

In a more recent Health Magazine article, however, Dr. Robert Higgins says the amount of water required varies by person because several factors come into play: sex, age, environment, and diet. So, when considering how much water to drink, it’s beneficial to pay attention to your thirst and the color of your urine.

Get the Sleep You Need Nightly.

Want to feel more energized? Sleep.

In Dr. Robert Rosenberg’s article on Everyday Health, he provides several reasons to get more sleep: a better working immune system, improved memory, and feeling better emotionally, for example.

You need about 7-8 hours of sleep nightly. Researchers found: insufficient sleep messes with your genes and results in many negative side effects.

When I don’t get enough sleep, I become frustrated easily. My productivity decreases too.

You don’t want to walk around frustrated and unproductive every day, do you?

You need sleep to function properly. It helps you feel better as well.

So, get the sleep you need nightly. As your bedtime nears, wind down, avoid distractions, and de-caffeinate.

Protect Your Eyes from Digital Eye Strain.

Staying Healthy While Unemployed
11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment. Creative Commons’ Flickr Photo Courtesy of Harsh Agrawal.

If you spend a significant amount of time (more than 2 hours) on your telephone or computer, then you’re familiar with eye discomfort. This is also known as digital eye strain: dry eyes, blurred vision, and back pain.

Eye strain has become increasingly common as much of everything’s done online.

A recent report by the Vision Council found:

“nine in 10 adults (88 percent) spend more than two hours each day using a digital device. . .”

So, you should protect your eyes from this type of discomfort. Here are 4 tips:

  • Adjust Settings on Your Digital Devices. The contrast and brightness on these devices lead to glares and squinting, which affects your eyes. Adjust these settings to percentages best for you.

Helpful Resource: These Brightness and Contrast Tests help you determine ideal values for your eyes.

  • Look away from the computer. Eye breaks help reduce eye and muscle fatigue. Give your eyes the break they need by looking away from your computer screen every 20 minutes.

Here’s a 20-20-20 Rule Infographic created by Visian ICL:

Staying Healthy While Unemployed
11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment. Infographic Provided Courtesy of Visian ICL.

Helpful 20-20-20 Tool: Protect Your Vision.

  • Blink. Be sure to blink often. Regular blinking moistens your eyes and lessens the strain. You can also lessen dry eyes by using lubricating eye drops as needed.
  • Give Your Eyes a Workout. “Focusing fatigue” happens when you look at the computer to long. Eye exercises reduces the risk of this fatigue. Here’s an exercise suggested by All About Vision:

“. . . Look far away at an object for 10-15 seconds, then gaze at something up close for 10-15 seconds. Then look back at the distant object. Do this 10 times.”

Pull the Plug for Breaks.

Some habits are beneficial for your health and well-being. Taking a break is one of them.

How is taking a break healthy?

Well, when you don’t take breaks, you overwork yourself. This results in stress and frustration.

I know this from experience. I was ‘green’ to the importance of taking breaks while job searching when I joined the ranks of the unemployed.

I worked at looking for a job constantly without any boundaries or refreshment. You already know what happened, right? I burned out and eventually made changes.

When job hunting, it’s beneficial to maintain a healthy balance between your life and your job search activities. Take a break to rest as needed.

Tami Cannizzaro, a Career Coach, agrees. In her post entitled It’s OK to Take a Break, she writes:

“Sometimes a break – even a short one – can put us back on track.”

Robert Wright, a Recruitment Professional for TJ Peel Resourcing, also agrees. In a job hunting article on The Guardian, he says:

“Taking {sic} regular breaks during the day as if you were at work too; go for a walk, eat your lunch away from the desk and refuel the batteries – this way you’ll have a much more productive afternoon.”

Staying Healthy While Unemployed
11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment. Original Photo Courtesy of Creative Vix. Edited by Priscilla.

Pull the plug, will you?

Engage in a Hobby.

Another way to take care of yourself throughout unemployment is by engaging in a hobby.

A hobby is something you do for enjoyment in your free time. And, it’s good for your health.

Consider these words from Dr. Matthew Zawadzki, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Merced, in a NPR Health article:

“You could think of this as a sort of mental escape. When you’re totally engaged in and enjoying what you’re doing, you don’t have time to ruminate and worry.”

Several benefits of having a hobby include:

  • Reduced Stress
  • Lowered Blood Pressure
  • Boosted Creativity

If you haven’t yet pursued a hobby, then here are some ideas:

  • Reading. Reading is good for your brain and provides enrichment. Helpful Resources: the Internet and your Library Card.
  • Crafting. Crafting, such as knitting and quilting, allows you to create something using simple materials. You can even sell your item(s) on Etsy if you choose to. Helpful Resource: Etsy.
  • Writing and/or Blogging. Writing and blogging are inexpensive and enjoyable hobbies. You can write or blog privately or share your work with others. Helpful Resources: Your Journal, Notebook, and/or WordPress.com.
Staying Healthy While Unemployed
11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment. Original Photo Courtesy of Negative Space. Edited by Priscilla.
  • Learning a New Language. According to BBC News, researchers from the University of London found:

“learning other languages altered grey matter – the area of the brain which processes information – in the same way exercise builds muscle.”

It benefits your brain. Helpful Resources: Duolingo and Memrise.

  • Coding. Learning to code takes time but you develop useful tech skills in the process. Helpful Resource: Codecademy.
  • Puzzling. Puzzling is a visual hobby and appeals to many because it allows you to relax. Helpful Resources: A hard copy puzzle book or Kappa Puzzles Online.

For additional hobby ideas, check out this link: List of Hobbies.

Stay Physically Active.

Physical inactivity isn’t beneficial to your health while looking for a job.

Why? Because it weakens your muscles. It also increases your risks for obesity, anxiety, and hypertension.

Physical activity, on the other hand, is good for your health and reduces your risk for chronic diseases.

Now, to stay physically active, you don’t need a gym membership.

You can move and stay active in many ways. Check out a few ways to exercise without the use of gym equipment:

  • Clean the House. When you move things from here to there and lift stuff up to clean, you’re exercising. And, when you add a time deadline and speed to it, it’s a great workout.
  • Stretch. Stretching improves your posture and flexibility. It also results in less pain. Be kind to your muscles and stretch.
  • Do Several Jumping Jacks. Jumping Jacks have been around for a long time, and they’re still good for cardio movement. If interested, try doing 20 minutes of jumping jacks with a 2 minute break after your first 10 minutes.
  • Run or Jog in Place. Running or jogging in place is always an option for movement because you can do them inside. All it takes is 25 minutes of activity.
Staying Healthy While Unemployed
11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment. Unsplash Original Photo Courtesy of Freddie Marriage. Edited by Priscilla.
  • Park and Walk. Here’s a tip about parking and walking from the American Heart Association:

    “How many times have you circled the parking lot to find “the” spot? Spare yourself the stress and gain more energy by parking far away (or even in a remote lot) and walking farther to your destination.”

With these activities, you’ll stay physically active and affect your health positively.

Tickle Your Funny Bone.

You read it right! Tickle your funny bone.

Upon becoming unemployed, I questioned whether to laugh during such a difficult time. And, looking back now, I think it’s one of the things I shouldn’t have questioned.

You see: a good, wholesome laugh is a gift. Happiness is one of the healthiest emotions.

Had I sought out laughs sooner, I would’ve experienced less stress and frustration. Laughter is a great way to put the fun in frustration.

And, it’s good for your health too. It’s the most natural painkiller around.

According to Best Health, laughter has several benefits. They include:

  • Burned Calories.
  • Good Feelings.
  • Heart Disease Protection.
  • Immune System Strengthening.

All together, laughter is a mood booster and stress diffuser. Don’t hesitate to laugh – or even smile – more.

Staying Healthy While Unemployed
11 Healthy Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Unemployment. Unsplash Original Photo Courtesy of Ariana Prestes. Edited by Priscilla.

Here are a few ways to get a laugh:

  • Watch a Funny Movie, Sitcom, or Video.
  • Hang Out With Family.
  • Remember Past, Enjoyable Events.

Laughter comes with several health benefits, it fights against negative emotions, and it helps you to stay sane while unemployed. So, remember to tickle your funny bone daily.

Conclusion

Unemployment is one of life’s stressful situations, but you must take care of yourself.

I’ve provided 11 tips for staying healthy throughout this transition. Please don’t neglect your health and well-being any longer.

Here’s the short version of the tips provided:

1.       Seek Silence and Solitude.

2.       Improve Your Self-Talk.

3.       Practice Gratitude.

4.       Feed Your Body.

5.       Quench Your Thirst.

6.       Get Sleep.

7.       Protect Your Eyes.

8.       Pull the Plug.

9.       Engage in a Hobby.

10.   Stay Physically Active.

11.   Tickle Your Funny Bone.

They’ve proven beneficial in my life, so I hope you’ll test them in yours. See whether they’ll also help you live a healthier life while looking for a job.

Health is a gift you shouldn’t take for granted. So, if they work for you, then please adopt and make them a part of your life.

Disclaimer: This article contains outgoing links to the work of others on the following websites/blogs: National Institutes of Health, Pew Research Center, Gallup, Dr. Pulos’ Blog, Dr. Leaf’s website, Greater Good Berkeley, Web MD, American Psychological Association, University of Minnesota, Prevention, Health Magazine, Choose My Plate, Ready for Zero, American Heart Association, Huffington Post, USA Today, International Bottled Water Association, Women’s Health, Mayo Clinic, Every Day Health, Centers for Disease Control, Mental Health America, Vision Council, Penn Medicine, Visian ICL, Protect Your Vision, Internet Techies, All About Vision, Tami Cannizzaro’s Blog, The Guardian, Wikipedia, Duolingo, Memrise, National Public Radio, BBC News, Medical Daily, Eureka Alert, World Health Organization, SparkPeople, FitDay, Shape Magazine, Best Health Us, and Health Status.

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