It seems like just yesterday we thought quarantine would be over in April, and by summer self-isolation would be but a distant memory. Now June is here and the world is still something out of a dystopian thriller with no end in sight. Our world has been turned upside down and flipped around, and we cling to the familiar. For many of us, including me, that's our jobs. However, like millions of other Americans, I lost my job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And now I'm rebuilding my life after losing its structure.
Losing my job came as a complete under-the-belt blow, and weeks later I'm still wrapping my head around it. Applying for unemployment? Definitely not how I'd expected my 25th year of living to go. I'd lost my grand European birthday adventure and my family reunion, and now my source of income! But instead of crawling under blankets and eating my weight in Trader Joe's almond croissants, I'm creating a new routine to leave quarantine better than I've ever been.
Here is the routine I have adopted to make the most of each day, while giving myself a little purpose. And for those who have also lost their jobs, my heart is with you and we will find something even better.
While I normally wake up before six (I can't remember the last time I used an alarm clock) I try to stay in bed and watch tv or read until then to keep my mind relaxed. Once I've fully woken up, I pull on leggings and sneakers and go for a walk to get my blood pumping. Having the rush of energy in the morning keeps me more alert, and then I don't need to do it in the afternoons when I naturally am tired. If the weather is bad I'll do an online barre3 workout.
After a shower and breakfast (a smoothie, eggs, or oatmeal) I start to plan out my day. I have the most energy before noon, so I immediately go into work mode. This is when I submit job applications, write first drafts of cover letters (to edit in the afternoon), or work on creative projects.
Since we're in a pandemic and Portland is just starting to enter Phase 1, hiring isn't abundant. I'm plenty aware of that. So when there isn't a job to apply to, I'm working on creative projects that make me hireable. So far I have taken a few skills classes, practiced creative writing, re-designed the blog, and researched marketing strategies during the pandemic. Little by little, I'm strengthening my skill set, and it gives me something to do during a long day of little responsibility.
By noon I like to take a break. If the weather is nice, I will sit on my balcony and get some sun and read. I just finished Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me by Rachel Bertsche and it's the perfect unemployment read for living your best life according to you. Or I'll watch a movie and catch up on Instagram. It always feels nice to indulge in the middle of the day.
After lunch I finish up any creative projects, like editing cover letters or finishing up writing.
Time to scroll through for new jobs! Possibly the worst part of all of this besides rejection letters, but I do love seeing the opportunities out there. And the amazing benefits some companies offer!
If I've had a slow day of not much going on, this is where I like to run errands, like the post office, grocery story, or oil change. Being out of the house is a dream and holds me accountable for showering and brushing my hair every day.
Dinner is usually followed by either FaceTiming with friends or talking on the phone with my mom. Living alone feels like a lot during these times, and I miss human contact. I used to struggle on rare days alone in the office - now I'm alone in my apartment all day! Taking this time to be social is a much needed mental health boost.
As restrictions lift, I have also been indulging in social distancing dates. Last week it was book club in the park on a Friday evening, soaking in the setting sun in peace. The week before, driving to my friend's house during her lunch hour and walking her pup in the neighborhood. The one luxury of unemployment is that you don't have a set schedule - enjoy it and work with other's schedules to get as much face time as you can! Even if you have to wear face masks, it's better than sitting at home wishing you had reports to read.
Normally an early sleeper, this time has taught me the delicious treat that is having a late night. I start getting ready for bed past eight, then relax on the couch and watch movies, color, paint my nails, scroll through Pinterest - it's a new indulgence for me! Long gone are my days of needing a solid 8 hours for a long work day, I am now living my nights stress free.
Finding the positive parts of unemployment during quarantine feels difficult, but not impossible. Finding a routine that keeps me productive, busy, and social is what has worked best for me. And while I hope I will be back under the corporate business structure sooner than later, I will enjoy this time of structuring my own day and grabbing 2:30 PM In-N-Out lunches on a whim.
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