Summer Survival: How To Constructively Cope With The Stress Of Unemployment

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As the month of June ends, it signifies a reduced chance of employment this summer and the dilemma of unpaid bills for many students and recent grads who have yet to find a job.

With youth unemployment currently at 15.6% (the highest it has been in 11 years), some students are still being hit hard by the recession and many will remain unemployed through the rest of the summer.

In spite of the obvious financial burdens, it is often the mental strains of unemployment that prove the most stressful. Jobs are closely tied to self-esteem. Without them, thinking, feelings and behaviour are often negatively affected, adversely threatening overall well-being and health.

So, while many students may be forced to depend on OSAP (and other loans) to resolve their monetary issues, there are also steps that young people can take to tackle the stress of unemployment and make this summer a productive one.

Create a new routine

Without work to occupy the void of school, creating a new routine is crucial to keeping yourself active and organized. In addition to the usual time slots for chores, errands, leisure and socializing, here are some must-haves to crafting a healthy and successful routine this summer.

Before going to bed, make a written plan for the next day. Creating a plan helps keep you prepared, organized and motivated to make the most of every day. One of the best ways to beat unemployment stress is to keep yourself feeling useful.

Schedule regular time to job hunt. You’re not out of the game yet, so continue to put in regular effort but be sure to leave time for other activities. Job opportunities come to those who look. However, it’s important to realize that not everyone will find employment this summer.

It’s summer! Take time to go outside and enjoy the summer weather—it can have a big impact on your physical and emotional health. Spending time in the sun helps with vitamin D intake and releases serotonin to fight depression. Or, get outside and kick a ball around with friends; physical activity is also a great stress reliever.

Explore your interests

Since the reality tells that not everyone will get a job this summer, take advantage of your new routine by using it to explore your interests. Unemployment is by no means a limitation to expanding your resumé, so use the extra time to explore meaningful activities.

Contests that explore your personal interests are a great addition to your accomplishments, as well as financially helpful. This Magazine’s 14th Great Canadian Literary Hunt is an annual contest searching for new literature from undiscovered, and emerging Canadian writers. With first place prizes of $750 and publication for top three pieces in the categories of poetry, fiction and graphic narratives, this is a perfect opportunity for youth.

Volunteering is a good way to get involved in your community, keep your schedule active and bulk up your resumé. Big cities are hot spots for well renowned places to volunteer. In Toronto alone there is the Bata Shoe Museum, the ROM, the Science Center, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. While many of the larger institutions offer their volunteering to high school students, or require a minimum of one year volunteering, local volunteer jobs are plentiful. So do some research, and find a volunteer opportunity that suits you this summer.

Exploring social media this summer is a great way to make connections with people of similar interests. Take advantage of Internet possibilities and connect yourself to different networks of people through websites like Linkedin. Get a Twitter account and tweet about things that you find amusing or intriguing. Create a Flickr, or Shutterstock account if you’re an avid photographer, or create your own summer blog.

Do something new

Remember when life was exhaustingly busy throughout the school year? When you fantasized about everything you could accomplish if only you had the time? Well, now you do. So take advantage of your independence and do something new that you never had time for in the past.

Learning a new language is a great skill that will impress any employer. On the BBC website, French, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese and Italian are some of the many languages offered through video tutorials.

Learning to cook is a useful activity that will be make your life as a young adult much easier. The Internet is an excellent (and free) resource too assist with this activity. A particular favourite of TalentEgg staff is Epicurious. Epicurious is a great source for beginner cooks because it offers an enormous variety of recipes from quick and easy (great for on campus, or when you’re in a rush), to complicated international dishes.

Photo credit: Bored!!!!!!! by SAMAEL TRIP on Flickr
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About the author

Katie Flood is currently completing her undergraduate degree at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., double majoring in honours English and communication studies. Katie enjoys staying physically active and getting involved at school by assisting with environmental and health awareness events, as well as writing and taking photos for the on-campus newspaper.