I’ll be honest, this post has taken me some time to write. It’s been several weeks in the making, but I truly needed to get my thoughts together with so many different feelings swirling around– which is to be expected when you’re world gets turned upside-down.
Over a month ago, I was let go from my job.
A job I dedicated my whole life to and after five years, so many ups and downs, tears, laughter, parties planned, relationships forged–it just happened. Very quickly. And to many others in my company as well. My world and routine came to a complete halt and the only thing I had control over was how to move forward.
While I was in total shock for a few initial weeks, it truly was a blessing in disguise. As many of you know, we are planning on moving to Charleston this year and it gave me so much momentum to focus on that prize. In addition to putting all the time and effort into this new direction, after the dust settled, what I realized was: I needed a break. A beak from the robot routine, a break from the stress of being stressed, a break from the working world and listen to my heart and my body–which also both needed a serious break. I set out to put together a new, proactive routine to focus on mental, physical and emotional health which involved some new-found independence and alone time I’ve never experienced before.
If you ever find yourself in the position where you can almost see yourself getting completely paralyzed by stress, anxiety or depression– laid off or not– I urge you: stop what you’re doing and take a break. Not a vacation. A break. To do nothing or do even one thing you’ve always wanted to do and make it happen. It will change your life, current situation or even just a moment to fully reconnect with your mind, heart and body.
With this said, here are some of the major benefits I’ve personally experienced from my new found alone time, how to get started and why it is that much more important to really take a break.
New Found You
We are all very familiar with the weekly routine; most can even run through their day with their eyes closed. With so much happening, all the time, your brain switching from task to task, it’s amazing what stoping completely can do for your mind. I’ve found a new understanding of myself, my real priorities and what I need to make me happy. I’ve been able to get closer with what I like and what I believe– independent from others around me telling me what I should. Even Netflix makes suggestions for us and I feel there isn’t much room these days to inspect our personal preferences and switch our decision-make settings.
Let Your Body Speak
Waking up the day after I was let go, I was exhausted. And that is a very serious understatement. While I immediately dove into everything you need to do when you first become unemployed, after filing for unemployment, understanding your remaining benefits, budget for your new lifestyle, after going through it all, I remember very little from the those days as I feel like I slept for weeks straight. My body, my mind, my emotional state was beyond exhausted and I decided to listen to what it needed. Throughout the initial weeks, my anxiety would come and go, I cried (a lot), I worked out at off times of the day, I found I wasn’t hungry as much (aka I didn’t need to snack all day to stay alert or out of desperation to get out of my work chair), I stoped drinking alcohol during the week, I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking I owed a client something or that I was going to work the next day. I went through a series of random events as my body slowly adjusted to its new routine of nothingness. When Mama Kim visited me a couple of weeks ago, she said: “You’re in mourning. Your body is in mourning. Let it mourn this loss.”.
Just Do It
Want to read a book at 12:42? Do it. Want to go for a long walk somewhere new? Do it. Learn a new language? Take a pottery class? Brush up on some new skills or hobbies? Read about healing crystals? Drive anywhere? Paint? Draw? Volunteer? Just do it. Do as little or as much as you want, but make it new. Make it something you’ve always wanted to do but told yourself you never had the time to do it. As long as it’s within your budget (or free!), go for it. You many never have this time to yourself again.
Plan For The Future
When I finally settled into a new routine and felt comfortable enough to start looking for jobs again, I woke up every day and mapped out a to-do list. Even if there isn’t anything I wanted or need to do, it’s important to keep your mind and body active so complacency has no chance of setting in or you end up spending all your time/days in front of the TV or on Instagram. The lists I created (because I had to really think about it) were: Immediate, Soon and One Day. Every day I would wake up and cross of the items I’ve accomplished or added/updated a list with new thoughts or ideas I cam up with. This is by no means the right way to do it, but it’s what works for me right now.
The alone time I’ve had over the last few weeks have been unbelievably mind-blowing. I’ve never felt so relaxed, rejuvenated, focused, confident– like my true self– maybe ever. I’ve found alone time is really where my creativity flourishes since there is no pressure to start or stop something. I’ve learned that I don’t have to limit myself, or anything my mind comes up with, when you have the capability to take on new challenges. Even in this short time, I’ve become more patient, more tolerant, more confident and accepting of others and myself. I seek small fears to conquer to stay sharp and accomplished, I empathize with others in this position and realize life is full of so many blessings– again, many in disguise– and what it’s like to run towards it with open arms.
While I don’t wish unemployment on anyone, I do hope you read this and understand that there is not one thing more important than you and sometimes it can make all the difference in the world to step away from your life routine and focus on what makes you great again.
Also, I want to give a personal shout-out to #ChefAdrian for being my light and total positivity through this journey. It has not been easy and while I love my independence– and now recognize how important it is– I wouldn’t have enjoyed it without him and seeing that smiling face every day.
Thank you to all of you, friends and family alike, for you’re support and encouragement– it truly means everything to me.
All the best,