November 28, 2011

Navigating the Emotional Pitfalls of the Holiday Season

For job seekers, the recently or long-term unemployed, and those who don’t like their jobs (have I left anyone out?), the holidays can be an emotional challenge. Regardless of which holidays you celebrate, it’s nearly impossible to escape the cultural emphasis on buying things (which you currently can’t afford), celebrating (which you probably don’t feel like doing), and getting together with others (whom you’d rather not see, due to your vocational unhappiness).

Okay, I intentionally painted a glum picture. That may not describe your reality, but if you’re currently struggling with employment issues it would be surprising to emerge from the season totally unscathed. It’s just a very difficult situation to navigate when you’re not at the top of your game.

Luckily, “forewarned is forearmed.” If you’re aware of the potential for difficulty, you can lay in preventative measures to help you through. Here are some tips to give you a head start.

1. Keep up with your job search. While the month of December can complicate job search, employers do have openings. Your challenge is twofold: You have to stay motivated, and you have to account for vacations and other vagaries that will impact your ability to reach people. But here’s the bonus: You might find there are fewer candidates approaching hiring managers this month, which increases your chances of success.

2. Spread some joy. You may be feeling down, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help others enjoy the season. Whether you help a neighbor hang holiday lights or sign up for Santa Claus jobs, watch for opportunities to brighten someone else’s day.

3. Find ways to celebrate. Even if resources are limited, your imagination doesn’t have to be. A potluck for friends, holiday movies on DVD, special treats that you bake, decorations you make by hand – quit worrying about seeming corny and start having fun.

4. Forgive yourself. If you’re feeling down about your employment situation, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re also feeling like you let yourself or someone else down. So maybe you did: It does happen. But you won’t make much headway on correcting the situation unless you can let go of the guilt and start making plans with a clear head. There’s no time like the holidays for that particular bit of self-care, so put it at the top of your list and enjoy the season with a lighter heart.

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