I’m sure you’ll agree with the following statement: surviving the Christmas holiday season with an uplifted spirit is hard, when you’re unemployed.
It reminds you: you’ve gone through the year, without a job offer in sight. It also reminds you of your tight budget, which makes it impossible to buy wonderful gifts for your loved ones.
Or, those feelings stemming from the shame of unemployment. How embarrassing will it be to respond ‘no’ to the inevitable question, “have you gotten a job yet?”
But, you can mentally survive this holiday season, without feeling down and blue. Without feeling stressed about unemployment.
Why should you? Because walking around stressed isn’t a healthy thing to do.
In an AZO News Medical article, the writer quotes Dr. Jennifer Caudle, Physician and Assistant Professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, on stress:
“Stress can be damaging to our health, and our bodies respond to stress in multiple ways. Our hearts beat faster, muscles tense and blood pressure can increase. Stress may also cause emotions to bubble closer to the surface which can lead emotional meltdowns in kids and angry outburst in adults. When under stress, some people will cope by reaching for unhealthy substances like tobacco, alcohol or junk food.”
It’s safe to say: unemployment stress can make a mess of your Christmas, if you allow it. And personally, I don’t recommend you walk around down and in the dumps because you have no job.
Your struggle is real. No doubt.
But, you can survive these days positively with mental effort on your part.
(But first, a brief FYI: While I’m writing from personal experience in this article, I’m not a mental health professional by training.
Now, on to the how!)
1. Focus on What You Have with Gratitude.
Focusing on what you don’t have (i.e., a job and loose budget) will leave you feeling down.
As stated in previous articles here on the blog, gratitude requires intention daily, when going through the challenges of unemployment.
I’ve gotten better at maintaining an attitude of gratitude. Yet, I know how easy it is for something to happen right away and bring your attention to the things you want – but haven’t been able to get.
This is why I say gratitude requires intention. You must be intentional about shifting your perspective. You must shift it away from the things you want but don’t yet have to the things you do have – with thanks to God.
You have life, health, and strength to move. Be grateful.
You have a warm place to sleep at night, right? Be grateful.
Will you have family to enjoy Christmas with? Be grateful.
Will you have good choices of food to eat? Be grateful.
Counting your blessings, mentally or physically, is one way to be thankful for what you have. A couple other ways include:
• Keeping a Gratitude Journal or Inventory.
• Creating a Gratitude Jar.
Gratitude reminds you of the good things in your life, despite the difficulty of your circumstances. I wrote an entire article about practicing gratitude, entitled, An Attitude of Gratitude (Even In Tough Times). You should read and explore its health benefits.
2. Keep a Positive Mental Attitude.
You might find it hard to keep a positive attitude and outlook, while you’re between jobs. While you’re feeling like you can’t catch the break you need to earn an income.
It’s a struggle to stay positive when you’ve been unemployed longer than anticipated, right?
I understand. Believe me.
Still, you want to get through the holidays with the right attitude. And, I’d say the right attitude is a positive one.
You don’t want to walk around with a focus on every negative thing you experienced this year. Instead, do what you can to focus on the positive things in your life.
Now, in no way am I encouraging you to deny your reality right now. The unemployed life isn’t easy. And, you experience negative emotions and attitudes sometimes.
But, you don’t want the negativity to stop you from seeing the positive aspects of your life. To stop you from seeing the positive things you’ve done to better your situation.
If you focus only on the negative things (your lack of employment, your lack of a budget surplus, your inability to buy Christmas gifts, your rejection for the job you interviewed for last week, etc.), then you won’t survive this holiday season in a healthy way.
Why? Because they’ll make you sad.
You want to stay away from these things – and feelings.
It isn’t an easy process. But, you can definitely adjust your attitude from negative to positive, if willing.
And, practicing gratitude (discussed above) is beneficial because it’ll help you stay positive. Stop and ponder the good things in your life right now. Also consider the difficulty of unemployment and its silver lining(s) – and be grateful.
Another way to keep a positive attitude is to never lose hope. In my case, non-human hope (along with faith) has helped me press through unemployment, believing things will work out – regardless of the bleak job prospects surrounding long-term unemployment.
This doesn’t mean I haven’t dealt with (or don’t now deal with) bouts of discouragement. But, I’ve learned the importance of moving from disappointment to hope. And, I’ve always made the transition, every time.
Within the last two weeks, for instance, I transitioned from discouragement to encouragement and hope. Here’s a quick rundown:
Different people contacted me about two opportunities. Not one but two. And, back to back.
I thought they were the opened doors of opportunities I’d been waiting for. I was grateful. Excited. And, I acted.
But, you might already know what happened next.
These doors closed just as fast as they opened. An obstacle hindered my ability to fully walk through both doors, at this time.
So, as you approach the holidays, please remember:
Keeping a negative or positive attitude is a decision. I know you didn’t expect to come to another Christmas with no job. But, a positive attitude helps you get through unemployment in the best way possible. Believe it’s not too late for your situation to change, though the wait has been a lengthy one. And, go on.
3. Find Sources of Encouragement.
A great way to uplift yourself this Christmas season is to find sources of encouragement.
You know the kind of job you want, and you’ve spent the year:
• Browsing Their Job Opportunities.
• Preparing Your Tailored Cover Letters and Resumes for Suitable Jobs.
• Submitting Your Information for Employment Consideration.
• Attending Job Interviews When Called In.
But what have you gotten in return so far? More failures than successes.
The job hunt is not only stressful but frustrating. And, you’re physically tired and mentally exhausted.
It would be nice to get a job (or immediate independent work) and get out of this process, right?
I know. And. Understand.
I have a question for you, though.
Do you make time to encourage yourself? No? This is why you should seek encouragement for yourself – starting this holiday season. This takes practice, but you can do it in one of many ways:
• Seek Solitude. Engage in Spiritual Disciplines. Read Biblical Resources.
• Rest Your Body Without Guilt.
• Listen to Uplifting Music or Podcasts. Or, Watch Inspirational Videos.
• Explore Motivational Blogs You Enjoy for the Latest Blog Posts.
• Read a Print or Digital Book, Outside Your Industry and Job Search.
• Refuse to Converse with Insensitive People Who Will Say the Wrong Things (If Possible).
You increase your strength and courage when you encourage yourself. You also get a better perspective of yourself, your life, and your career.
4. Remember to Do What’s in Your Best Interest.
You’ve spend the year seeking out employment opportunities with diligence. You’ve been courageous in doing what you can to become part of the workforce again, despite all rejections, let downs, and disappointments.
Now, you’re worn out. You know you need some time off from looking for a job. But, you’ll feel guilty if you ditch your job search during the holidays.
What should you do?
You should do what’s in your best interest.
If you need to take a day (or two or three) off from your job search this holiday season, then do so – without feeling you’ve done something wrong.
I know this is easier said than done (I learned the hard way). But, it’s important to take a step back from everything going on and give yourself what you need. In fact, this is a blessing and helps you keep your sanity while you’re unemployed.
Keep in mind: there’s a difference between being lazy and giving yourself time to reenergize (and enjoy life).
So, make time to enjoy simple pleasures as you can throughout the Christmas and New Year holidays (and beyond, too). Consider the following ways to relax and recharge (in every aspect – not just mental here: spiritual, physical, and emotional also):
• Unplug from the Noise and Distractions for A While.
• Breathe and Rest Well.
• Get a Wholesome Laugh. (In his book, Timeless Healing, Herbert Benson, M. D., says: “Humor, smiles, and laughter are the very best stress-busters.” Why not consider it?)
• Enjoy your Christmas Meal with Family.
• Munch on Your Favorite Snack.
• Do Something Interesting.
• Write or Mentally Recognize Your Blessings for the Day (discussed above).
No matter how you choose to relax and recharge, the important thing is: you must do what’s best for you in maintaining your sanity. If you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed in unemployment and your job search, then change-up things. Make time for yourself and unwind from the hustle and bustle of your job search – for rejuvenation.
Survive the Holiday Season While You’re Unemployed
You can still mentally survive the Christmas holiday season in a healthy way, though you might be feeling more stress because of it.
Sure, it would be great to have gotten a job offer this year. It would also be great to present gifts to those around you.
But, don’t dwell on these things and let them get you down. Choose instead to 1.) Focus on What You Have, 2.) Keep a Positive Mindset, 3.) Encourage Yourself, and 4) Do What’s Best for You. You’ll maintain your mental health, keep the right perspective, and better manage the holidays while unemployed, by considering and implementing them.
(Gallup research shows “signs of poor mental health among unemployed Americans.” So, please seek help from trained medical or mental health professionals, if you have serious mental health concerns.)
P. S. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Also, thank you for reading the articles here on Serenity Amidst Frustration.