In this blog we have tried to highlight the ways in which you can spin the Covid-19 pandemic in your favor. However, none of us should forget that hundreds of millions of people around the world have lost their jobs, live in precarious, uncertain conditions, and/or have fallen into depression. Any one of the aforementioned things is bad for our mental and physical wellbeing. Add social isolation, dwindling savings, loss of a friend/relative, or any other Covid-19 side-effect to the mix and recovering from a slump like that will be exceedingly hard.
All that being said, this blog post will not be about Covid-19 per se. It will be about getting yourself back up whenever life hits you hard. Covid or not, it is almost certain that you’ll feel down at one point or another in the future. It is completely normal. The important thing is to figure out how to get yourself back on your feet and persevere despite the challenge – a story as old as humanity itself.
While there is no universal formula for getting out of a slump, there is an overarching principle that lays solid groundwork for recovery – taking better care of yourself.
There is a vicious, mutually reinforcing cycle of self neglect and feeling down. The less we take care of ourselves, the worse we feel. Conversely, the more down and out we feel, the more we neglect our physical and mental wellbeing.
If you are in a slump, the first step is to get your body and mind back on track. However, this is also arguably the most difficult step to take given the precarious state you are in. Understanding the importance of taking care of yourself, here are eight relatively straightforward things that you can do to break out of a rut and get better:
Get enough sleep. No matter the issue, we always seem to recommend this, but it really is that important! Good and deep night’s sleep will make it more likely that you’ll have enough energy and willpower to push forward. Here are some tips to improve your sleep.
Eat better. Our mood, attentiveness, and energy levels are directly affected by what we eat. So have regular, homemade meals and ditch bad sugars, alcohol, trans and saturated fats.
Exercise. As sleep and a better diet help you take the first steps towards recovery, exercise will lift your mood even further. Start with short walks or 15 minute stretching exercises. When you feel like it, move onto more vigorous exercise routines. Trust me – it will do wonders.
Limit negative inputs. The world can be an unpleasant place, so do your best to only take in positive things. I know – surrounding yourself with positive people, uplifting music, and encouraging news stories may be hard if you are feeling down, but it helps you avoid falling in an even deeper slump. This might be a challenge that requires a digital detox of sorts, considering that negativity, darkness, despair, aggression, and hopelessness seems to lurk around every corner of our digital worlds.
Get things done. Getting things done and seeing the results will make you feel better almost immediately. Start off simple. Declutter your bedroom, take out the trash, rearrange your bookshelves, clean the kitchen etc. Write the small tasks down, finish them, and cross them off your list.
Pause your big goals. While your big goals are important, you have to be in the right headspace to work on them. Since reaching them requires long-term commitment and results will only manifest themselves in months if not years, you should focus on the small, everyday things to recharge your batteries and get back in the game.
“Shock therapy”. If you feel you are on your way back to the top, but you’re not quite there yet and the going is getting slow, try stirring things up a little. Put your phone away for two days, wake up at 5 am, rearrange your furniture, drive somewhere you’ve never been to and explore. Just do something spontaneous and very much out of the ordinary.
Put things into perspective. The last step in the recovery process is looking at the big picture and understanding that it actually might not be that bad in the grand scheme of things. If we have a place to call our own, food on the table, good health, family and friends, and there is no Mad Max type dystopia outdoors, things are more or less fine. Be grateful for all the things you have, learn from the slump you were just in, and make yourself more resilient in the future. Just remember – this is the last step. You don’t want to and are not really capable of doing an objective assessment when you are at your most vulnerable. It might backfire.
While this advice will aid you along the way to recovery, some slumps are rooted in underlying mental health issues or past traumas. So don’t treat this advice as a universal cure and find professional help (psychologist, psychotherapist etc.) if you are struggling to get by.
Being in a slump is one thing. Losing a job is a whole different challenge. Be it Covid-19 or some unexpected economic downturn in the future, it is more than certain that some of us will find ourselves out of work at one point or another. So even if you are not struggling now, this advice might be useful.
For better or for worse, we live in an individualistic, market driven society that glorifies work and achievement. We derive so much satisfaction and fulfillment from our work, that, unfortunately, losing a job is tantamount to losing a great deal of meaning in our lives. Therefore not being able to find work immediately after finishing university, quitting the previous job, or being laid off, is particularly hard on our emotional wellbeing and sense of self worth.
The good thing is that the more dynamic the world becomes, the more people are used to changing jobs every once in a while. Nevertheless, if you do lose a job not by your own accord, it might lead to a slump, especially if you are struggling with finding a new position. If so, the aforementioned steps will help you with getting back on your feet.
Just remember that it is OK to grieve a bit and get your house back in order before jumping back into the job searching game. Most of you will probably not be left penniless by job loss. Nor is it likely that some kind of government support is unavailable.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind after losing a job:
Assess the situation. Think about the reasons for your job loss. See how much savings and government support you can tap into before things start to get tight. Think about where you want to be headed in the future – maybe learning a new skill is in order.
Focus on the opportunity, not the setback. Take a page from Marty Seligman’s approach and define a professional setback as an opportunity, not a sign of weak performance and inadequacy. It will be far easier to get back in the game if you interpret things positively and don’t dwell on the negatives. In addition, potential employers will also appreciate positive and confident employees.
Be your best you! Exercise, sleep, eat well, study – do whatever is good for your growth as well as your quality of life. As I stated before, employers prefer happy and energetic people that are confident about their skills and are willing to engage and grow further.
Treat finding a new job as a job. Reflection and rest is OK, but once you are ready to get back into the job finding game, commit to it! You should prepare a job search plan and follow it closely. Looking for a new job is a goal like any other. Break it down into tasks and activities, managing your time and resources along the way to maximize your success.
Tap into your network. Meet friends, acquaintances, previous colleagues – this is not just for socializing purposes, but it may actually land you a job. Don’t forget – many if not most of the best positions are filled in an informal, word of mouth way. Take the advantage of both the official and unofficial way.
The long and short of this blog post is that no matter the challenge, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Just remember – whether you are out of a job, in a slump, or both, you should not concentrate on blaming yourself and/or others. The sooner you get back on your feet and learn from these experiences, the better!
Even if there are larger economic and structural forces that keep you constrained, do your best to stay positive and take care of yourself! I know, it may sound like an impossible feat, but that’s really the best you can do in these circumstances to keep yourself sane, competitive, and capable of fulfilling the most important roles of your life – those of a parent, spouse (or partner), sibling, child, and friend.