At this moment in time, we live in great uncertainty. I am an employee of the Chicago restaurant industry and 13 days ago I found myself without work due to Covid-19. I have been unable to sign up for unemployment due to the IDES being overwhelmed by the great numbers of the newly unemployed. In itself I am very frustrated, however, I cannot be upset as we are all in the same predicament.
Without a source of income or any understanding if our industry will have work in the next few months. How do you expect the newly unemployed to not live in fear? Fall into a deep depression? Perhaps lose a struggle with addiction due to isolation.
I now have too much time on my hands. How can I be useful? How can I use my current skills to add value to others? As a cook, health coach and a woman that quit drinking 19 months ago, I began sharing tips and recipes on Instagram. I cover budget cooking, a plant-based diet and how to maintain healthy habits. I do this to help folks that may not have experience in cooking from a pantry or perhaps lack knowledge of a plant-based lifestyle. I also started posting daily to help myself create a routine.
I learned a long time ago I always need to partake in productive work even when unemployed and without a weekly paycheck. It is a good practice for your mental wellbeing. To step away from the frustration of looking at online job site boards. To take a timeout from calling unemployment when no one is answering my calls.
Like most, I failed miserably at life during the last recession. Partly due to the unknown outcome when unemployed, as I was a 20 something cook now without work. One of the main lessons I took from that period of my life is we always need structure in our daily lives. Especially when we find ourselves without work. We need the routine of getting up at the same time every morning, bathing, eating, moving, set aside time to complete small tasks throughout the day. Take a moment to find humor in life without guilt. To take the pressure off ourselves and relax. Connect with loved ones. Protect our sleep and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Repeat each day.
As the newly jobless we have no control over our current work situations we do, however, have control over how we face our present challenges. The next few months will not be easy. It is going to get worse for some of us before it will get better. However, by creating your own schedule it will give you some control over the unknown and allow you to adapt to a fearful situation. Too much free time on our hands allows us to make poor choices. It keeps us fearful and plays havoc on our mental health. For boozers like myself, it can leave you open to temptation. You can destroy months or years of good work due to being alone by yourself.
To begin the process of designing your new unemployment schedule. Take some time to sit with your journal and think about what you hope to achieve this month. To create a well-structured routine, you need to consider where you hope to see yourself in 1 to 3 months’ time. Organize a weekly calendar by filling in a realistic work schedule that includes time for work, study, exercise, breaks, play and naps if needed.
Always dress your bed. It’s a great first step to start your day and prepare you for a good night’s sleep that evening.
Drink a large glass of water to rehydrate when you wake. Make sure you drink water and tea throughout the day. If you have a cup of coffee, follow it with a glass of water. Keep yourself hydrated.
If you are like me and tend to procrastinate, plan ahead for daily exercise. Put together a list of personal trainers or yoga teachers on YouTube. Layout your gym clothes the night before. Start each day with a good workout. Begin with 30 minutes of movement a day and build up to 60 minutes. If you can go for a long walk. It will feel amazing to get out into fresh air and it works wonders for your mind. By setting yourself to move when you wake, you remove the temptation to skip a workout.
Listen, I know your desire for nourishing meals goes out the window when laid off. We are unmotivated to follow a healthy eating plan. Comfort foods, processed treats or mindless snacking throughout the day are the best we can manage.
Do take the time to have a little breakfast. It doesn’t have to be labor-intensive. Perhaps an avocado toast, overnight oats, smoothie, or a baked potato topped with hummus. Just get something in your belly to start your day.
Job hunt / study / read / personal development. What do you want to learn? We are so fortunate to have access to free online education. Research your hero’s reading list. What content or book recommendations to make? Utilize Audible or podcasts. What skills can you share? Create a course. Choose your topic, learn a language. Block out time to study or read each day and get to work. It may be hard to focus at first, however, when you get to the other side of this period of unemployment, you’ll be glad you used your time well.
Keep it simple. Leftovers, sandwich and fruit, a bowl of soup or chili. Just take a break from work and chill. Go for a walk if you can. Get some fresh air or take a 30-minute nap to reset.
Work some more. Chill. Take time for a hobby. Pursue a fun new skill. Be creative. Cook. Connect with family and friends. Have fun.
Keep it light. Just have a final meal of the day 3 hours before you go to bed. It helps curb the late-night snacking.
Listen to music. Layout your exercise clothes. Watch a movie. Read a book. Take a warm shower or a bath. Have a cup of chamomile or valerian root tea if you are not tired. Begin your process of winding down. Practice a meditation or breathing exercise.
Release all your thoughts and worries on paper. Write whatever comes to mind.
Practice gratitude. I know you are out of work, however, be grateful for the little things. Sometimes even when we are at our lowest point in life it’s good to take a step back and take stock of all the goodness in our lives.
What kind of person do you hope to become? Put it to paper. What steps can you take to become that person? What do you need to learn?
By journaling, you can also remove your stresses and prepare for a good night’s sleep.
I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely useless without a good night’s sleep. Listen I know it’s very easy to lie on your couch watching Netflix, when you are disheartened due to unemployment. Creating a blueprint for your daily routine you need to schedule in a nightly routine. Choose a reasonable hour to go to bed and stick with it. Time goes by and before you know it, its 2 am and your still awake. You’ve achieved nothing except set yourself up for failure the next day. Go to bed by 9, 10 or 11 pm. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
Set up your nightly routine by cutting back out screen time about two hours before you go to bed. Keep your room clean and cozy. Always dress your bed in the morning. Use your bedroom for sex, reading and sleeping only. Leave your phone, outside of your bedroom.
I know we live in a time of unknowing, however, we still need structure in our daily lives. Make a commitment to yourself to achieve a small action each day. One little step that will move you closer to your goals.
A little advice from a woman that lost a lot of time to booze. Try not to waste these days drinking as you try to figure out a solution to your lack of work. If you do you will lose weeks to a foggy brain, massive depression, and brutal hangovers. When you are tired and struggling it’ll be hard to find your motivation. Believe me, I know the many promises to self, “sure I’ll start tomorrow”.
Treat yourself to a cup of coffee or tea. Sit with your pen and paper. Take your first step and design your daily routine.