Your Support Circle — Part 2: Companions and Friends

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The personal side of your job search support circle—connecting with companions and friends—addresses the need to take care of yourself so you can succeed.

Companions and friends complete the support circle in different way than professional support. They give you:

  • social connection
  • fun and laughter
  • a safe place to “just be you”
  • “buddies” to share recreational interests
  • someone to share hobbies

Why is it important?

The #1 reason is stress relief. Job loss is a very stressful, right up there with loss of a loved one. Having healthy ways to get stress relief, when funds are short for taking a vacation1 and your lifestyle changes, goes a long way in helping you maintain both emotional stamina and mental strength while you hunt for a job.

The value of fun and laughter is well documented as a source of physical and emotional healing and health. Choose friends and companions who are upbeat, have a sense of humor, help you see the funny side of life—and get you laughing. Laughter releases endorphins—hormones that fight stress and anxiety. A client I helped watches Victor Borge videos and M*A*S*H re-runs with her friends. Don’t forget about young children. Their funny antics—as they play or imitate adults—are great for a good belly laugh. My two grandchildren, ages 3 and 6, are my “comic relief” and remind me to keep fun and play in my “adult” life.

Recreation that involves exercise helps ward off depression and reduce distress. Let your friends help you by joining them in physical activity that gets your blood pumping and stretches your muscles. Physical movement helps the body release stress by relaxing tense muscles and also [aids your] sleep at night.2 Exercise also “improves blood flow to your brain, bringing additional sugars and oxygen which you may need.” 2 Along with your recreation change your scenery; go outdoors not only to get fresh air, but also to rejuvenate your senses. Take in the beauty and wondrous variety of color, smells, and artistry in flowers, plants, animals, terrain, and glorious sunrises.

Social connection validates your personal worth. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that while your job title has changed, who you are has not. You are still the talented, experienced, valuable person you were before unemployment entered your life uninvited. The acceptance you experience with social companions is an excellent morale booster. It enables you to remember the uplifting good about you and avoid plunging into negative thinking.

One of the best places to “be you” is in volunteer work utilizing your abilities in a way that gives meaning to your life. You may meet new acquaintances or join companions who share your passion for causes dear to you. In his book, Work Strong, Peter Weddle calls volunteering “soul work”, defining it as “a commitment to meeting the needs of others.”4 You don’t need money to do this…just time and a heart for giving what you have to make life better for someone else. Weddle says it “expands your sense of well-being and happiness”4 through making an authentic difference in the world around you. Your generosity could involve mentoring one person, or helping a group of people through an organization whose mission you agree with.

Sharing hobbies with friends (or enjoying them alone) has several benefits. They give an outlet for frustrations and boredom, redirect your emotions and thoughts toward something enjoyable and positive, and help you lose track of time. Hobbies can be many activities: working out, sports, creating art (pottery, drawing, photography, writing, painting, digital art, woodworking, quilting, crocheting), cooking, baking, and learning to play a musical instrument, to name a few. Because creating art is a very personal activity it can also be a form of relaxing therapy.3 Hobbies also help reduce and disperse feelings of anger,3 which can surface anytime during unemployment. You have a better chance of moving forward if you control anger and its various forms—feelings of betrayal, injustice, bitterness; or even desire for revenge.

So, disconnect and refresh! And remember, when you are taking some down time to revitalize your brain cells, your soul, your energy—unplug from your cell phone, Netbook, or other electronics that keep you tethered to the virtual universe.

Summary

In your support circle, there are two equally important elements—professional support to give to your job search, and social support to provide healthy outlets for mental and emotional stress. Balance your social life so that it supports your job hunt efforts, but don’t let it take center stage. Taking care of yourself is vital to your success now—and on your next job!

Please share your thoughts about what contributes to well-being and success in your job search. I’d love to read them!

In support of your successful job search, and landing the best job for you!

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