Human beings are, by nature, creatures of routine. Sometimes we need that structure in our life to give us a sense of purpose. Since the normal American worker spends forty plus hours at their job every week, it becomes a major part of their routine. Your job is more than just work, it’s also a social activity and for some people it’s a big chunk of who they are. Suddenly being without a job can be a scary thing and may be uncharted waters for those who have not been unemployed in many years.

I’ve had many different jobs, but I’ve never been without a job for more than two weeks, since my high school and college years, that is. It’s important that you fill that new found time with productivity in addition to stabilizing your finances. If not, you may lapse into a depressed state of self-pity and mourning. Yes, mourning. Psychologists have actually found that many people may mourn losing a job in the same way they mourn losing a loved one or a beloved pet.

It was very hard for me initially to have so much free time. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of five key activities that I used to get me through it.

1. Get a hobby

A hobby can occupy a lot of your time and it’s something that you enjoy doing, which can bring that much needed happiness in a time of crisis. I started fishing again. Once I did, I couldn’t believe I’d ever given it up.

2. Get a library card
Obtaining a library card is a good idea for several reasons. It allows you to stimulate your brain and also it’s a peaceful and quiet place where you can just think. Not to mention that you need to conserve your cash at this point, and it’s one of the few things that’s actually still free.

3. Physical Activity
It doesn’t have to be strenuous activity, but walking for 30 minutes each day can help use some of that energy that you would normally expend at your job. If you don’t expend energy like you did when you were employed, it could affect your sleep pattern and in turn negatively affect your health.

4. Reach out to family and friends
I’ve found that family are the only ones you can really count on in a time of crisis. I used this opportunity to re-connect with aunts, uncles and cousins whom I hadn’t seen for a while. It’ll make you feel good to strengthen your family relationships, and it will reinforce your sense of hope.

5. Get that “me” time
Just because you aren’t working doesn’t mean that you can’t reward yourself. We often think that we have to work a long. hard week before we can “reward” ourselves with things like dinner and drinks on a Friday or Saturday evening. Not true. Go and get that massage or that facial that you’ve been craving. You do deserve it!

These are 5 of the activities that I partake in to occupy my free time while unemployed. It’s important that you don’t spend all of your time looking for another job. You need to find work, but burning yourself out before you even get the job won’t help anybody. There are many more activities that you can think of if you get creative. Remember, being out of work isn’t the end of the world. Not by a long shot.

Christopher J. Mollo

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