10 ways to stay sane when you are out of work for a year...

11:00 p.m        Try to fall asleep.
12:00 p.m.       Try to fall asleep.
1:00   a.m.       Try to fall asleep.
7:00   a.m.       Try to wake up.
7:15   a.m.       Make sure to have plenty of Immodium.
8:00   a.m.       Work.
6:00   a.m.       Drive home.
7:15   a.m.       Try to unwind from work.
7:30   p.m.       Eat.
8:15   a.m.       Try to unwind from work.
9:00   p.m.       Try to unwind from work and worry about the next day.
10:00 p.m.       Read and think about going to bed early.  Think about the paperwork you still have to do.
11:00 p.m.       Try to fall asleep.
12:00 p.m.       Try to fall asleep.
1:00   a.m.       Try to fall asleep.

Re...you get the point.

And that's why I eventually quit my job.  This January marks the one year anniversary of me not receiving a steady paycheck.  I've decided not to complain here but instead share some insights that I discovered over the past year.  Things that kept me sane.  Things that made me feel I had a purpose.  Instead of falling into a depression, I kept moving and used the time to do some real soul searching, to re-discover who I was and where I wanted to be. 

1. Find something to do daily.

Trust me, the first two months after not having a job things start getting a little monotonous.  (Assuming you didn't already have a plan for being out of work a year).  Start a blog or walk the dog.  Don't just sit around.  Human beings need to feel purposeful.  It's important for your mental health that you stay busy.  

2.  Get sun.

People without jobs are more likely to become depressed so make sure you get outside and get some sunlight instead of staying indoors watching South Park reruns.  Don't upset your hypothalamus.  Go outside in the sunlight for at least 20 minutes a day.  If you don't believe me Google Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Being indoors all day can constitute a dark winter day. 

3.  Have a schedule and keep it.

Typically we thrive on schedules.  If your schedule mantra is "I don't keep a schedule", that's still a schedule.    Get on one and stick to it.  It's healthier for your body to have some sort of expectation of when it will go to sleep and when it will awaken.  

4.  Re-evaluate the path you are on.

Well?  It's not like you have anything else to do.  Lots of people are miserable, hate their jobs and feel "stuck".   You have been given an opportunity to make sure you like where you are going.  Do this by conducting a self-assessment. If you really think about it, you probably already know what parts of your life you need to change. Why not use unemployment as an opportunity to get where you really want to be?

5.  Learn something new.

People are happier when they are doing something challenging.  Not only that but it's good practice to keep your brain busy.  Nobody wants Alzheimer's.  Why not go back to school?  Finish that degree or start working on a new one.  Take a class at your local museum or college.  Learn about printmaking, photography,  scrap-booking or underwater basket weaving.  

6.  Join a group or create your own.

I started getting in a slump and a friend told me I needed to join a book club to "meet some people".  Not being a part of a workforce or "office family" can feel very lonely.  I was amazed at how much harder I had to work to stay in touch with people.  I discovered Meetup.com and I ended up creating my own group and now it has 35 members.  Not only have I developed some awesome relationships there but I have also been interviewed on a radio show and was filmed for a show that will air on Showtime in the Summer.  

7.  Become a part of something greater.

Look around.  Pay attention.  What's going on in your city?  Are there a lot of homeless people?  Does your town need more bus stops?  Are your local farmers going under?  Get involved.  Stop sitting around wishing things were different.  It's good for your body soul and mind.  It will make you happy and in turn make everyone around you happy.

8.  Grow something.

It feels good to watch things grow.  Now, you could have a child and watch it grow but I am thinking smaller scale.  Start with a plant.  You could probably afford that more than a child right now.  Heck, you don't even have to buy a plant since you can grab a clipping from a neighbor's yard and root it yourself.  Plants give us something to take care of and the end result is usually pretty cool.  Plant some herbs and use them to cook with.  Cilantro is like a 3 year old whiny child so if you don't have the patience for it Thyme takes a licking and keeps on kicking.  

9.  Rekindle friendships. 

And I mean friendships that are worth it.  Now's your chance to do those things you wanted to do while you had a full time job.  Send a card.  Make a card.  Write a letter.  Those are things our modern age high-tech lives have led us away from.  

10.  Explore your natural environment.

Reconnect with nature.  Take a walk outside.  Drive to the beach.   Explore the state parks near you and see what new things you find.  Besides, you need a subject to take photos of to show off in your new photography class.


  1. I have to say that even though I have a job, I think that this is valuable advice for me as well. I can get stuck in a routine and by every day trying to shake that up by really being a part of the world you live in can make a big difference. Thank you for this, there are people I need to forward the link to.

  2. Im going on 1 year next month. I feel guilty for letting it drag so long, but not guilty enough to get a job just yet. For the first time, Im happy. I can focus on things I actually WANT to focus on.

  3. Thanks Brandon. Thanks Steph. Take your time. It's only our societies "rules" that make you think it's lazy. Screw that.

  4. This works for maternity leave as well. Audrey and I go on daily "field trips" to the library, around the neighborhood for a walk, or even to just get a cup of coffee. It's really kept me sane!

    I love your blog my friend. I miss you a whole bunch. :)