Making the most of Redundancy

Redundancy – a rotten, shameful word. A word that makes you feel utterly worthless and ashamed.

I have seen many of my friends being made redundant from their jobs over the past few years and always thought “that would never happen to me.” When you are told that your job is “fundamental” to the business, you may at times suspect that it could happen but at the same time never believe it will actually happen to you.

Well it did. After spending the majority of my adult life being passionately loyal to a company I learned a very crucial lesson – in that at the end of the day, when all is said and done – loyalty gets you no where. Business is cruel and heartless.

There have been times when I should have left and times when I had the opportunity to leave the company, but during those times I stayed fiercely loyal and thought, I could not possibly hand in my notice at a crucial time for the business. It’s a pity the business and those who make the decision don’t have the same view.

When I first found out about my predicament I was angry, I was ashamed and I felt worthless. It was like the years and years where I have put in the time and energy, even during the worst possible times, felt like nothing. I’m not going to lie, the process has made me feel extremely low. It has brought me to my knees in terms of mental and physical well being – questioning every aspect of my profession over the last twelve years. To say it has been hard would be a lie – it is beyond that. Some days it is simply a struggle.

Those who have gone through the process would probably relate – you can have your great days enjoying your time off, time to think and time to re-asses. Then there are days when you have the biggest fight – to get out of bed, to constantly job search and to go to countless interviews.

So as with most aspects of my life – I can only try to spin the negatives I am feeling in a positive way to, hopefully, help others who have been through the process or are going through it. And at the same time, speak out to ensure my mental health does not take a battering.
Catch up with friends and family. Time is precious for everyone, so use the extra time wisely. Over the last few weeks I have spent time with my sister and nephews in Cornwall, I have made a conscious effort to keep in contact and see friends and with it being school holidays I have made it clear that I am free to take my niece and nephew close by out for days out. Catch up with as many people you can, as being with people makes up for the loss of human interaction you would get throughout the day.

Keep active. Being an active person I have always felt that I just don’t have enough time to work out. So over the past month I have often worked out twice a day – running, followed by a second strength work out or class at the gym. And it has helped keep me stable physically and mentally. As always it is a great outlet for stress.

Get outdoors – nothing beats being outside. And lucky for me my redundancy has landed in our Summer season. So I can get outdoors. I have worked on the garden, spending many hours of my first week off at garden centres – bringing a new meaning to the term “gardening leave.” I have also frequented the local fruit farm, picking raspberries and strawberries, and spent a good amount of time racking up the running miles or simply sitting on the sun lounger.

Work on that “list”! The list of jobs, errands and even the things that you have wanted to do for ages but never get round to doing at the weekend. I have cleaned out numerous cupboards, washed numerous windows and had a good clear out – spending lots of time at the dump or charity shop. Anything to keep myself occupied. But spread it out – a couple of chores each day so you don’t run out of things to do.

Take a break! The biggest misconception with being made redundant is that you should spend every waking minute either job hunting or going to interviews. In reality it is not possible. You will go mad. You will spend days looking at the same jobs from different recruitment agents and it will become draining. Running back and fourth to interviews will be equally draining – so take a break. I have taken a break for two weeks – after finding myself rather frustrated and drained. I flew down to Cornwall – ignoring my emails and any calls from numbers I did not recognise. I made plans for day trips – booking a cheap flight to Edinburgh to spend just six hours exploring as much as I can. And I will continue to do so until I find something that is right for me.

Make plans – incorporating all of the above. Spend time doing the things you enjoy, but also allow time to keep on the job hunt.

Don’t settle for just any job just because you are scared and in a panic. I was offered a job within the first week of job hunting but I turned it down. It was a perfectly good opportunity, but I simply did not get a good feeling. I felt there was something better, something more. So don’t be afraid to turn something down. The interview process is there for both parties – you are interviewing the company as well as them interviewing you.

At the end of the day it sucks. Nothing is more demoralising than having the decision to leave a company taken out of your hands. To not have that big send off and goodbye. To make you feel like you have done something wrong. The only thing you can do is try to remain positive, to make sure your day is filled with a mixture of “work” (i.e. job hunting) and pleasure – doing the things that make you happy.

And finally, think positive thoughts. Take the positive feedback where you can and keep your head up – she says.

I say this now, only five weeks post redundancy. Will I feel like this in one months time or will I be teetering on the brink of panic? Who knows?

All I can do is follow my heart.


Exercise and mental well being

We have all seen the rather amusing meme’s stating “I run because punching people is frowned upon” or “I exercise because completely exhausting myself is the most relaxing part of my day.” And yes they are amusing, but all jokes aside there is an element of truth in these statements.

During the most adverse times in ones life finding an outlet to channel any stress, anxiety or grief is an important factor in working through ones troubles and ensuring that mental health and well being is maintained.

In my late teens and early twenties, when I found myself in a situation that challenged me mentally or caused me adverse stress, I often turned to partying hard. Back then I thought there was nothing better than deciding not to deal with my problems, doing Tequila shots was more my vice, thinking the next day they wont be there. Obviously the next day and the hangover always was, along with the deepened feelings of anxiety and depression. As the years went by, and my experience in life continued, the partying ways lessened and my love for Tequila shots did too.

By mid to late twenties and now in my almost mid thirties my outlet has changed. During any times that cause me higher levels of stress I have turned to exercise. Exercise has been proved to reduce anxiety and depression. It improves self esteem and cognitive function. And for that small amount of time when you are running, spinning or boxing it out in Body Combat your mind forgets. You can go to your happy place simply by sweating it out.

Over the past few years I have struggled on and off with stress, desperately trying not to head back to the depressive years of my late teens/ early twenties. And every time exercise (and a few bubbles on the side) has been there to help me manage my stress levels. During these times I simply spent extra time channelling any negative energy into my performance.

Luckily, over the years, I have developed the ability to recognise when I need to “sweat it out” and when I just need to have a few drinks with friends. Some are not so lucky. Some, perhaps people with deeper levels of mental health, cannot find an outlet or simply don’t talk about their feelings because they are embarrassed or don’t know how to express themselves. It is these people we need to look out for and take time for.

I have many friends who have dealt with various forms of depression, anxiety and grief. The blessing with them, is that (I hope) they always have people to talk to, even if they don’t find an outlet to deal with the pain. And it is painful. Yes there are other things going on in the world that are a hell of a lot worse. But in that moment, at that time, what ever that person is feeling is bigger than anything else.

I have often been told in recent years that I have been an inspiration. That seeing me push through has inspired people to run. That I have been the heart and soul of many teams. And most importantly I have had a positive reflection on life.

Right now, I have to say I only hope its true. As during a stormy part of my life, whilst going through an experience I never imagined I would face, I am using all the strength I have gained. I am using my experiences and the positivity to pull through some tough times.

My outlet to do so is simple. Exercise.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, It’s about learning to dance in the rain”

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