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Reaching a Better Balance: Achieving Perspective on Long-Term Unemployment

Sometimes positive changes in ourselves happen so slowly, beneath our radar, that we don't notice them. I'm sensing these changes and they're helping me deal with a prolonged job hunt.

I don’t know why, but I no longer feel obsessed with the job search.

It’s probably because, after more than two years, I can no longer maintain that maximum level of intensity when I’m still not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel.

I had to let that go, maybe for my mental health. I was beginning to fear that, when I felt down, I might stay down; I might not be able to bounce back. I had to pull myself back from that edge (and fortunately, I was able to).

So maybe that’s why I’ve been feeling better lately. I’m thinking more clearly about other priorities in my life: my son, my volunteer work, other commitments and concerns.

I’m getting out more, making plans again, having fun.  At times it feels like a foggy shroud is lifting from my brain. There’s not as much swirling in my head or swinging of my emotions as there used to be. I don’t feel as tired and worn out as I did.

It’s not as though I’ve given up the job search; far from it. I’ve applied for at least half a dozen jobs over the past two weeks. I’m following up, making new contacts and connections on LinkedIn, signing up for networking events.

So what’s different? I think it’s that I’ve learned how to “turn it off” when I need to. Instead of being preoccupied night and day with jobhunting, I seem to be able now to shift my attention to other important things. I feel more balanced, calmer, more relaxed, less cranky.

I’ve even started to exercise regularly again. The health benefits of exercise, in terms of prevention of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, are well-documented; but regular exercise also makes us better able to cope with stress and anxiety and helps prevent depression (see this article, for example, at the Mayo Clinic website).

 It’s taken me a long time, but I think I’ve finally motivated myself to exercise and to make it a regular habit. (I’m told that’s the key to exercise success.) It remains to be seen if I’ll keep it up (exercise has been a lifelong challenge for me), but I feel determined right now.

Another thing that has given me a better perspective on my situation recently is a LinkedIn group I’ve joined. It’s called U.S. Jobs, Careers and Networking and if you’re unemployed, I recommend that you check it out. For some reason, this LinkedIn group seems to be full of unemployed Baby Boomers, all telling stories eerily similar to mine, and all trying to encourage and support each other. I think it’s helped to change my outlook on my situation. It's enabled me to step back and see the bigger picture; it’s not personal –it’s not just me. 

Regardless of what's responsible for it, I’m just glad that I’m generally feeling more optimistic again.  I’m not going to question it; I’m just going to try to keep doing what I’ve been doing lately and hope that this feeling continues. Keep your fingers crossed! Mine are.

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John R. Fugazzie May 11, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Fran join NhN we have weekly meetings in Cedar Grove Library and a great facilitator Stewart Linder. Weekly meetings on Wednesdays at 6:30 www.neighbors-helping-neighbors.com
John R. Fugazzie May 11, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Cedar Grove NhN meetings are on Thursday Nights
chris May 11, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Amen, Martin -- you are 100% right. Things WILL turn around. It is preposterous how long this recession has lasted. We have had many recessions in the past and come out rather quickly. Not to get into a political debate, but I have no doubt if Romney is elected, the stock market shoots up, the economy starts picking up because he puts the right programs and growth incentives in place (AND gets rid of ridiculous regulations) encouraging businesses to hire again, the economy will flourish. And then the democrats will say, "See -- it just took time for Obama's initiatives to work, now Romney is taking all the credit!!" Blame the past president for everything that's wrong, take credit from the next president for everything that goes right. No doubt about it.
Fran Hopkins May 11, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Thanks, Denise. I like your idea about watching comedies. There's nothing that makes you feel better than a good laugh! It's these little things that, taken together, help us stay strong and resilient when we're dealing with life's challenges.
Fran Hopkins May 11, 2012 at 10:45 PM
You know, I knew about these weekly get-togethers for unemployed people at the Cedar Grove Library, but I'd forgotten about them. Here's a link to more information about the group: http://www.northjersey.com/news/business/137998718_Job_group_comes_to_Cedar_Grove.html. Thanks for reminding me, John!

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