How Practicing Self-Care Saved Me After I Lost My Job

April 16, 2018  |  

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A time of new beginnings and fresh starts, January, the first month of the new year, is often met with happiness and optimism for many. For me though, the first few months of 2018 have been anything but prosperous. At the tail end of last year, the magazine I worked for was sold. The upheaval was a shock, as half of the staff was promptly let go within a few days time. As luck would have it, I survived the slashing of the staff and was cautiously optimistic about moving forward.

My luck ran out a month later when the quack who bought the company turned out to have no money and zero investors. Suddenly, I was out of a job and on the unemployment stroll rather unexpectedly. Despite trying my best to rebound quickly, it was almost as if the universe was taking a page from Kendrick Lamar, with countless rejections reminding me to “sit down” and “be humble.”

As funds began to dwindle, and other personal issues came to the forefront, anxiety and depression took over. I began to feel the most out of control that I’ve felt in a long time. In an effort to maintain some control and sanity in an otherwise spiraling situation and trying time, I did several things to refocus my energy and attention.

While my main priority was finding a way to continue supporting myself financially, I also took the time to rethink my career goals and where I wanted to be in the future. Coming up on my fourth year living abroad in China, I’ve achieved a lot of the goals I set for myself. I made the transition from ESL teacher to copywriter, and then magazine editor, which was a dream job of mine since I was a child. While there were certainly fun and educational times during my nearly a year at the publication, I have to admit that it wasn’t what I expected. The hours were long, and with a great deal of my job taking place outside of the hours of 9-6 p.m., maintaining a healthy work-life balance was a challenge. If I was being honest with myself, I wasn’t exactly clawing at the prospect of going back to such a thankless and underpaid job. The downtime from work helped me to get real about the type of employment I wanted to seek out in the future, and the type of plan I needed to get in place to make it a reality.

Physical and mental relief came in the form of aerobics and meditation. Being still and concentrating on myself helped to quiet some of the negative self-talk that had started filling my head, while moving around helped to at least get some feel-good endorphins in me. I found ways to engage in mini-indulgences and feel-good activities. Being the foodie I am, I used the idle time to do more cooking, a pastime I thoroughly enjoy. I also kept doing things that helped me stay in touch with my creative, colorful side. That included taking a few pole-dancing classes thanks to some free class vouchers I had been gifted previously. I’m not going to lie, going to dance classes, at times, felt incredibly frivolous due to the reality of my situation, but I had to remind myself that my employment status and job title isn’t the entire measure of who I am as a human being. I deserve to experience things that calm me and bring me happiness and fun.

If nothing else, being without employment gave me time, and lots of it. I made use of my days by picking up old hobbies and projects that had fallen by the wayside, like my vlogging. With nothing to lose, I went after the type of writing assignments I’ve been wanting to. And after more than a year of writing in the structured, strict worlds of marketing and journalism, I relished the opportunity to write more creative and cultural pieces for a change.

When I did eventually find employment again, I was more than happy to be gaining some semblance of stability again, but I was grateful for the downtime I received. In some ways, the time I spent without full-time employment was beneficial in helping me to gain clarity and a pathway towards the next direction of my life.

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