After I was made redundant last January, the days seemed to pass in a blur.
My moods swung from anger to despair, exaggerated I’m sure by the hormones racing round my 11 week pregnant body.
I couldn’t think straight because I didn’t really know what to do next.
Should I be snapping into action and looking for a new job straight away?
Or, could I be permitted to mope around for a little while?
Having suddenly had all this free time imposed on me, I found myself pulling together endless ‘to-do lists’.
There were things that I knew I needed to do, but importantly there were also things that I simply wanted to do.
Some jobs were a priority: moving out of the flat where I had settled just six months before, signing off the paperwork for the redundancy and telling people what had happened.
The first to receive that call: my parents.
I’ve been made redundant, what do I do now?
My partner and I had decided to wait until after Christmas and New Year before revealing the exciting news that my folks would soon be welcoming their first grandchild.
But, losing my job had added a horrible complication to that plan, now I had to explain I had also lost my job.
Both pieces of news would be a shock and I was scared they would be worried about me.
I needn’t have been, of course.
My Mum was ecstatic, I could tell she was concerned about how I would cope with a little one and no job, but it was obvious she was over the moon!
My Dad was more subdued, absorbing the news carefully before offering me sensible advice, as is his way.
One thing they have always said to me is that if ever need them I can always go and stay with them. This was definitely one of those times.
You see, my parents, who have always taught me to strive for my dreams, live in the beautiful county of Cornwall.
Leading by example, a few years ago they fulfilled their lifelong dream of moving to a seaside home near the harbour town where they shared their honeymoon.
When I hopped on a train to the south coast it was ‘off-season’ down there, perfect for what I needed: some peace and quiet and time to get my head together.
Being a Daddy’s girl, a week spent with him visiting beautiful places like Chapel Porth beach and the Eden Project was ideal.
My favourite memory from that week is of sitting at the beachside cafe one morning eating our bacon sarnies. I can still hear the sound of the waves lapping at the shore beside us.
In my short time away I learned how important it is to have some proper ‘time off’.
I began to understand the need to have time away from work, the monotony of house chores and the daily grind of the commute.
This was the first time I hadn’t thought about what was going on in the office for months, probably even years.
There was no quickly checking my emails to make sure I wasn’t overwhelmed by them on my return to the desk.
There was no obsessing with the social media feeds to see if they had featured any of my latest work.
The only thing I thought about was me, and boy did it felt good!
When was the last time you took a ‘proper’ holiday?
I think we are all guilty of not using our holidays for actually taking time out. We never just use our days off for relaxing and doing nothing.
It’s a theory I often read about online, this week it was explored in an article by lifestyle blogger Rachel Ritlop.
Her piece discussing work/life balance explains too many people are mislead into thinking that working long hours and ‘ploughing through’ makes a good impression on our colleagues.
‘Roughly 48% of millennials believe it’s a good thing to be seen as a work martyr by their boss. Meaning they will skip vacation days and stay late even if they are no longer being productive for the day.’
Her statement reminded me of many people I have worked with in the past, and I confess I have been guilty of it myself too.
For some reason, we believe showing resilience and working tirelessly on any given task is the way to prove our worth.
But, if you have no time to rest, how can you expect to be at your best?
‘A person is not truly being resilient if he pushes through a difficult task, only to feel burnt out, resentful, or exhausted for the next several weeks or months with no real recovery.’
And what of that recovery? How should we make sure we achieve this?
Rachel speaks of an idea that defines two types of recovery: internal (the short breaks you take during the day) and external (time off outside of work, e.g. in the evenings, at the weekends and our annual leave).
‘A poor example of an external recovery period would be leaving work and engaging in another strenuous mental exchange, such as a heated political debate or a meal with a family member who you have a strenuous relationship with.’
It’s that last quote that makes my point: we all need to take time out.
I understand if you feel you can never switch off completely, but it’s counter-productive so you need to try harder.
A fresh head and a fresh start.
My week away unexpectedly served to give me a lot of clarity on the job I had just left.
Frustratingly, I found I had new ideas about how to make my projects a success, a fresh perspective on the problems we had been having and sensible theories on how I thought those could be resolved.
It was too little too late for me, but hopefully a lesson to others that taking a week away from it all really can make you a better worker.
This new found focus wasn’t wasted though, it brought me the opportunity for a fresh start.
In my quest for a stable job that would allow me to pay off my debts and have my own family, I had lost sight of what it was I actually wanted to achieve in my career.
I realised this about six months before and, the truth is, I had been looking to change jobs. I wanted to make better use of my skills and do more of the things I enjoy.
Now, I knew that redundancy could get me back on track and started to wonder if this could be the chance to work on the writing career I have always wanted.
I honestly think this holiday saved me from the fallout of my redundancy; it gave me the space I needed to be able to cope.
The anger about losing my job lessened. It was still there, but I could reason with it.
The grief for the loss of the life I had planned turned to hope that I could now begin a new, more exciting one.
With my head clear, I could build a plan of action for what to do next.
I formed a list of things I needed to do to stabilise my working life, both before and after my new baby arrived.
These were things I had simply not been able to think about at home, while my head was still spinning from what had happened.
And I guess that is the reason I’m writing this post. To say to you – please, take some time out.
If you’ve lost your job, or you no longer enjoy it, or if you’re feeling totally burned out – take a week off work and get out of town. The space you’ll give yourself will work wonders.
|Five things that worked for me… when I had to start again:
1. Take time out. Clear your diary and book some time away. It doesn’t have to be far and it doesn’t have to be for long, just make sure it’s somewhere you can relax.
2. Log off. Leave your phone behind so you can’t access your emails, sign out of social media and give your head a break.
3. Do nice things. I was spoiled for choice in Cornwall, but being made redundant also gave me time to explore where I live – there are so many places to visit in Leeds!
4. Allow your mind to wander. When was the last time you had the chance to sit and daydream? To zone out completely? Find a quiet beauty spot and do it.
5. Get a notebook. Your head will be swimming with things you want to do, so every time you think of a job write it down. But then put the list to one side and forget about it (for now).
Have you experienced redundancy? How did you begin to rebuild your life? Please comment below, I’d love to hear how you overcame this nightmare.
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