Three Tips for the Furloughed

I’ve been furloughed. And laid off.

Many people reading this may agree, you are left with a wild array of emotions and an endless list of questions when it happens to you.

But, as I connected with friends and former colleagues throughout 2020 who were going through it for the first time, I remembered some of the lessons I learned, and a few of the practical steps I took to bring a sense of balance back into my life.

This blog post could easily have included 50 things! I will focus on mental, physical, and fiscal health.

1. Reach Out

Professional golfer Freddie Couples had a great line about phone calls: “I don’t like answering the phone because there might be somebody on the other end.”

While I’m not that extreme, my friends know that I don’t enjoy talking on the phone. Meeting in person is my preference. Being furloughed, there were two reasons why I needed to get over that - fast. First, after the initial burst of “I heard what happened…” or “How are you doing?” calls arrive, it gets really quiet. And second, because of COVID-19, when would we visit people again?

So I made a deal with myself. One phone call a day. That’s it.

And then I was free to send an email or a text.

To hold myself accountable, I created a spreadsheet and everyday wrote down the three people I reached out to. One call. One email. One text. The only rule was it couldn’t be the same person for the same mode of communication.

This did a couple things which I frankly underestimated. There is a real confidence boost when you can look back at a completed task and say, wow, I did that. One month equaled 90 times reaching out to someone! And because of my rule, I was forced to eventually connect with those who I was initially reluctant to. You know who they are. The college friend you forgot to stay in touch with. The co-worker who moved away. I made “new” connections that I thought were gone forever.

2. Exercise Twice a Day

Waiting to hear back about your job or looking for a new one is stressful. But you still need a way to break a sweat and get your mind away from the million thoughts racing through it.

My gym closed (like everyone’s) and so I had to get creative in our new pandemic restricted world. Lying on the floor, I started bench pressing a decorative wine barrel. Stop laughing. Furniture works too - kitchen chairs, bar stools, end tables. Eventually a friend loaned me some dumbbells and my morning weight lifting routine returned to some kind of normalcy.

And then each afternoon, I walked for an hour outside. Once a week I made myself find a different trail or area to explore. New views are refreshing.

There is enough scientific proof that regular exercise is good for you. For me, I just felt better. I got a little lift twice a day.

3. Shop for Health Insurance