8 Things I Am Learning From Being Unemployed

Workstation

One of the things I decided this year, was to blog a lot more often and to share from a place of authenticity and empathy. The Goal is to do 52 posts this year – quick math, that is a post a week for the rest of 2019. I am still on track so far, with these posts for the month of January.

  1. The 30-day Mental Wellness Challenge 
  2.  7 Lessons I Learned in 7 years of Motherhood
  3. This is What I Did Not Post on Instagram
  4. 7 Important Things I do During My Morning Routine

In today’s post, I am sharing lessons I have learned on been unemployed since late December last year. Admittedly, I cannot compare my experience with anyone who’s been unemployed for years, because I cannot imagine how much harder it is. On the flip side, I cannot downplay the fact that the past few weeks have not been the easiest of days for me.

Stay At Home Motherhood

So, I have shared before on the blog, that I have been a stay/work at home mom. After my son was born, I couldn’t go back to work and, for the first nine months of his life I stayed at home – literally. During this time, I was also battling severe Postpartum Depression (but didn’t know it for a while) and staying at home made the symptoms more intense.

Read More: My Postpartum Depression Experience

Towards the end of the year, a friend introduced me to online writing. By then, my son had settled into a pattern of sorts, and I could juggle motherhood and getting some work done. I kept at it, and would later grow into it through the different seasons and years. This past December holidays, however, two of my contracts came to an end, perhaps a little unexpectedly. It threw me off balance quite a bit, as it would anyone. Towards the end of the year, and for most of January, I have been applying for jobs as a freelance writer, sending cold pitches and generally keeping hope alive.

Today though, I broke down. There is something about seeing the calendar page flip to mark a new month when you don’t have a job. It is a subtle-not-so-subtle reminder that bills are due – rent, groceries, electricity, school fees, transport, insurance… name it. Today that reality just kinda smacked me in the face. It took all of the energy in me not to have a total breakdown. Part of what it took was to journal – my all-time go-to coping mechanism. I write and write and write and write, and as I did, I thought to share some of the lessons I am learning from been unemployed.

Lessons I Am Learning From Been Unemployed

Lessons From Unemployment

  1. There is no shame in being unemployed

Of course this is easier said than done. It is easy to feel embarrassed about a conversation that ends up with, “So, how’s work?” or “So, what do you do?” But I am realizing that this is nothing to be ashamed of. That many people will, at one point or another, go through unemployment for a period of time. If anything, you are encouraged to speak out and network because you never know what opportunities abound with the persons you interact with.

  1. Work does not define me, but it is intricately tied to a sense of self-worth

Knowing and reminding myself that I am worthy is one of my key affirmations. But even that, in the face of unemployment, gets shaken to the core. Having a job to go to or to do, every day is closely related to one’s self-worth and self-esteem. Part of the reason for this is that, subconsciously, going to work makes you feel as though you are making a contribution to the society. In the absence of this contribution, there is a sense in which one lacks purpose.

Add to this the existence of mental illness and it is easy to see how unemployment, lack of self-worth and depression create a vicious cycle. This study done by Gallup-Healthways in 2014 showed that depression rates are significantly higher for those who have been unemployed for six months or more. It underpins the link between work and self-worth and makes it easier for me to understand why, these past few days have caught me questioning my worth and contribution, even with PPDKenya.

Read More: Stay-at-Home Motherhood affected my self-esteem

  1. Having a support system makes a big difference!

The truth of how I have survived this past month, and especially with kiddo going to a new school, is the anchor that my family is. I have a super supportive family, and my sister has been incredibly gracious to me. My close circle of friends has also been incredibly resourceful in checking in and offering encouragement. This is something I cannot be blind to. I recognize it somewhat cushions me from the very jagged edges. I am also cognizant of the fact that not everyone has such a support system. For this, I am very grateful.

  1. Do not quit everything

Granted, life does slow down to a certain extent when you are unemployed. After the frenetic pace of school hunting, my days slowed down noticeably. The mundaneness set in after my sis went to work, and my son was off to school. I would find myself asking, “Then what?”

With this, it is easy to quit everything – quit eating right, quit exercising, quit sleeping well… and plunge into job hunting. But the truth is, this will easily cause burnout. What I have learned to do these past few weeks, is to keep a basic routine of sorts. Part of this has been in form of my morning routine that includes a daily 30-minute intense workout (for those who have been wondering where the zeal comes from!). The morning workouts give me something to look forward to, space to process my thoughts and a toned body at the end of it all.

  1. It is okay to have good and bad days

Someone recently Whatsapped me and said that they envy my lifestyle (having followed my daily workout selfies) – and I wanted to cringe. Because what she didn’t know, was that for the most part, those workouts keep me sane and grounded. On some days though, I will drag myself out of bed, workout and then watch the hours go by with barely any strength to look for a job or make connections. I realized that those bad days are okay too – I just don’t want to linger there too long.

Read More: 17 things in 2017

  1. Having an emergency fund is KEY

Yes, I did have some cash somewhere that helped changed schools for my son, but in retrospect, it should have been bigger. I am reminding myself why it is important in this season. Closely related to this, is that it is wise not to put all of one’s eggs in one basket. Ever since I started freelance writing, I would work with at most, two clients at a go. But I am now realizing how detrimental that is to my financial well-being – and I am taking it for a lesson.

  1. Do the things you have always wished you had more time for

It is easy for the days to waste away when there is no work to go to, but time is valuable, even in such a hard season. This past month, I have tried to make good of this time by

  • Working out a lot more consistently
  • Reading more books (onto my third read for the year)
  • Blogging a lot more
  • Sharing content consistently on the PPDKEnya platforms
  • Brainstorming and writing down ideas
  • Networking, making cold pitches and generally putting myself out there.
  1. Do not give up

I could as well be telling myself this every day. Do not give up. Continue to put in the work. I keep reminding myself that the worst anyone can say no when job hunting/ looking for opportunities, is a NO. The best that can happen, well, there is no limit to that. I will keep putting myself out there. Something will work out, and when it does, I will add an update to this post.

For the record: I am a freelance writer and have been published before on Standard Digital’s Ureport Platform, and you can read the articles here and here. My main niches are Parenting, Wellness, Productivity, and Maternal Mental Health, but I can cover just about any topic on request. Additionally, I have built and continue to run this, and the PPDKenya website which you can visit here. Please get in touch with me if you need services to be provided by a freelance writer. Here’s my LinkedIn profile too. 

 

 

30 Day Mental Wellness Challenge

Mental Wellness matters

January is Mental Wellness Month. Mental wellness refers to a state in which one’s psychological well-being allows them to function well using their cognitive and emotional capabilities. Contrary to popular belief, mental wellness is more than the absence of mental illness.

By marking January as the mental wellness month globally, more people are encouraged to be proactive in taking care of their mental health. To help with you with this, I created a 30-day mental wellness challenge for this month. There are many options to get through with. The most important thing to remember is that these options are not a replacement for medication and therapy.

The challenge helps build your mental strength. Just like any other muscle in the body, the mind benefits from daily workouts to help improve your wellness. You can start the Mental Wellness challenge at any time of the year. Most people prefer to start the challenge at the beginning of the month. Whatever you prefer, just ensure that you take note of where you started and track your progress.

Please Note: This challenge is largely rooted in selfcare and social structure to improve your mental health.

The 30-day Mental Wellness Challenge

30-day Mental Wellness Challenge

Day 1 – Journal about how you feel.

Take time to get in touch with your inner self, as well as to find out how you would like to feel after the challenge. Below are some wonderful prompts you can use to help with your jourmalling.

  • Today I learned…
  • My ideal day would look like…
  • I am grateful for…
  • I would like to accomplish the following three things…
  • This is how I am feeling right now…

Read More: My Selfcare Routine

Day 2 – Spend at least 20 minutes in the outdoors

Whether that means taking a nature walk, going for a light jog or walking around the block, take time outside.

Day 3 – De-Clutter

Clearing out your space has a tremendous effect on your mental health. It is particularly helpful for those who experience anxiety. Getting rid of clutter helps your mind.

Day one of the Mental Wellness Challenge includes journalling as a tool. Write about how you feel and how you would like this challenge to improve you.
Mental Wellness Challenge

Mental Wellness Challenge

Mental Wellness Challenge Day 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Unplug for 24 hours

Technology has become an indispensable part of our lives. For many people, however, this has led to an over-reliance on our gadgets. On Day 4 of the 30-day mental wellness challenge, go off the internet for 24 hours. Do whatever works for you. Some people prefer to log out of all apps while others opt to delete all their apps.

Day 5 – Call someone that you love

It is easy to get caught up in life’s daily routines. This is why it is important to pause and get in touch with our loved ones. Pick up the phone and call someone that you love.

Day 6 – Slow down, be present

Our fast-paced lives mean we hardly get time to truly be present in the moment. Today, take time to slow down. Be present. I have found that taking time to note my surroundings helps anchor me in the present. Take note of five things that you can do with each of the following senses: see, hear, feel, smell and touch.

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Day 7 – Make a list of next week’s goals

What would you like to achieve? What are your short term and long term goals?

Day 8 – Do one thing that you have been putting off for a long time.

What’s the one thing you have been postponing for a while but would love to do? Today provides that chance.

Day 9 – Read something that will assist your mental wellness

Read your favorite book, fun facts, listicles, or even an informative blogpost. Here is a good place to start on this blog.

Mental Wellness Mental Wellness

Day 10 – Extend kindness to a stranger

Read More: What I am learning about grief

Day 11 – Practise positive selftalk

Choose an affirmation that resonates with you. Repeat it throughout the day.

Day 12 – Find ways to improve your morning routine.

What does your morning routine look like? How can you improve it?

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Day 13 – Create a sacred space for yourself

This creates a safe space for you to retreat to after a hard day. Fill it with all your favourite things – sweet photographs, special letters, scented candles or even your favourite rug.

Day 14 – Do not be afraid to ask for help

Day 15 – Make a list of 10 things that you are grateful for today

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Day 16 – Go through today without complaining.

Day 17 – Go to bed half an hour earlier today

Getting adequate rest is an important part of mental wellness. This not only allows the body to recuperate, it is also a wonderful opportunity to recharge.

Day 18 – Make time to enjoy the sunrise/sunset today.

Sit and soak in the splendid beauty of that moment.

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Day 19 – Write a letter to the 10-year old that you were

If you could go back in time, what would you tell the 10-year old that you were?

Day 20 – Make time to watch something that encourages you or makes you laugh.

Day 21 – Be intentional about how you speak today.

Try as much as you can to make sure that it is stuff that builds and not destroys.

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Day 22 – Do something that takes you out of your comfort zone

Say hi to that neighbour you have never talked to. Write an audacious plan for your year. Take yourself on a date. Venture out to a new part of town. Learn how to crochet.

Choose something that takes you out of your comfort zone, but one that benefits you.

Day 23 – Practice deep breathing for five minutes today.

Deep breathing has been shown to ease anxiety. Read more about that here.

Day 24 – Say NO to the things that you do not want to do.

One of the greatest pillars for mental wellness is learning to say No and to set boundaries. This gives you space to chase after only the things that set your heart on fire.

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Day 25 – List 10 things that you love about yourself.

Day 26 – Spend time alone today. If possible, plan a date night for yourself.

Day 27 – Make time for a healthy hearty breakfast today

Read More: Taking a minute can save a life

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Day 28 – Clear out your email inbox.

This is the time to get rid of all those emails that keep piling in your inbox. Hit unsubscribe for emails that you no longer read/ find useful.

Day 29 – Take photos of 3 things that make you happy today.

Day 30 – Evaluate the progress you have made during this mental wellness challenge.

What would you like to keep doing? Is there anything that worked for you? What was your best day? Do you have a list of things you can commit to do in the coming months to improve your mental health?

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