July Blog Entry

About the Aware Blog. Each month we will post an article on a range of topics relating in some way to Depression. A blog post may be the author’s personal experience, a reaction to public events, or views on how better we can support ourselves and others who experience depression or related mood disorders. Each of our posts will be from an individual viewpoint, this means that some blog posts may not reflect official Aware policy.

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Top Tips ImageBlog Entry July 24 2013 by Lara

How to be proactive when faced with uncertainty.

Losing your job can be a major shock to the system and can plunge even those without a previous history of such into depression. An uncertain future, paired with feelings of insecurity and loss, make this a particularly high-risk situation.

When I moved to Ireland, it took me a full year to find sustained employment. It was tough, but it eventually worked out. Now, my husband is being let go. In this economy, many people are familiar with this particular pain, so remember you are not alone and follow these tips to help keep your spirits up:

1. Develop a new routine.
Without the order imposed by the 9-to-5, it can be a challenge not to sleep all day but it will do you better to resist the temptation by finding other commitments and activities. Head out every morning and stay away from home for a few hours, applying for jobs, networking, and volunteering.

Love your local library. It has all the resources a job hunter will need and can serve as an office by proxy, where you can do your reading, revamp your CV, apply for vacancies, and find out about goings-on in your neighbourhood.

Routine is important because it keeps our days structured and productive, and reminds us that we are capable of getting things done.

2. Take care of yourself.
Don’t let your health go by the wayside. When you are unemployed, you will have more time to shop for healthy, cost-effective foods that can be made into healthy, cost-effective meals. Junk food gives you a quick boost, but your mood and energy will fall off precipitously afterward; instead, stick to whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and lots of healthy omega-3 fats, as you find in fish. Some studies have indicated that vitamin D can increase energy and heighten moods, so get some sun if possible.

Your mental health is just as important. Some days will be harder than others. Find a couple of close friends and family members whom you can talk to when feeling low, and know that there are support groups available if you need them, as well.

3. Hang out with your friends.
It’s easy to isolate yourself when you feel down and have a limited budget, but there are ways around this. Pick low- or no-cost outings to the park or the museums, and pack a picnic to make it extra special.

Miss socialising with friends at the pub? Invite them to bring a bottle to your place and enjoy a cosy evening at home. Miss going out to dinners? Arrange a pot luck amongst your friends, where one person hosts and everyone else brings a dish to share. And even if you can’t get together in person, pick up the phone or arrange a Skype date.

4. Learn photography.
Or ceramics. Or French. Or coding. Now is the time to pick up new skills—not only the ones that will prepare you for a new career, but those that will soothe your soul and enrich your character. You know those activities that you have considered but always said, “I wish I had the time to do that”? Now is your chance. And money spent on education is never wasted.

5. Take some time out.
It is natural to feel down right now, but there are upsides to your situation, as well. The working world isn’t called the rat race for nothing: It can be stressful, frustrating, even demoralising. Consider this an opportunity to rejuvenate and reevaluate what really matters to you.

Above all, try not to compare yourself to others, while keeping in mind that thousands of people are working through similar difficulties. Remember your coping strategies from previous hard times, and remember to take each day as it comes.

There is a graphic going around on Facebook that says to view unexpected life events as plot twists and go from there. If you take a step back from the immediate negative experience, you’ll recognise that this is a turning point, which empowers you with options. Take this blank page and fill it as you see fit.

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