I have just graduated from university and was looking forward to starting a new chapter of my life and getting a job. I didn’t know what kind of work I wanted, but I was open to trying something new and most importantly, needed to start getting a regular income after 4 years of student loans and debt. When we went into lockdown, I knew that it would be more difficult to find work, but I didn’t realise that I would be unemployed for 15 weeks- and longer.

Then people began saying that we were due the biggest recession since the Wall-Street crash and I became really pessimistic, thinking that I would never find anything. I had the tendency to blame myself and think about how this affects me personally, when this is a global crisis. I also had worries about money and my personal financial income, feeling guilty that I couldn’t contribute to rent or even buy the shopping from time to time. It‘s been really demoralising to apply for jobs and not hear anything back. As this went on week after week, it started to lead to a cycle of guilt, blame - and desperation at times.

When I began to realise that more people than myself were struggling with the same problem (if not in a much worse position than me), it helped me to put the feelings of guilt into perspective and begin developing coping strategies. Primarily, I find it really helpful to give myself a structured routine so that I don’t find myself mindlessly wiling the days away. This can include exercising regularly and walking my dogs, doing chores around the house (and even ticking jobs off the list of DIY we’ve had for years). Secondly, I also find it rewarding to help others, whether this means baking a cake for my elderly neighbours who are terribly isolated during COVID, or offering to cook and collect shopping for my family.

Thankfully, the weather during lockdown has, for the majority, been lovely and I have found my garden to be a revitalising space. I can imagine that people who don’t have access to a personal garden space would benefit from picnics in their local parks which I have enjoyed doing as a social activity. I have also taken up hobbies I haven’t done for years like sewing, crocheting and painting, all things that I might not usually have time to do, and this has given me the perspective that I’m lucky I can spend this time being creative.

I find that creating something gives me a great sense of achievement. I I have been able to get into reading for the first time in years and have read several great books. I’ve also been engaging in the Silver Cloud CBT resilience programme which has taught me that commitment to creative activities can help to alleviate stress from the mind, and I’ve found that I am often distracted from the thought of unemployment when I’m doing stuff.

In a practical sense, I am still very aware of the fact that I need to find work and so I dedicate hours a week to actively looking online, even if there is only one or two suitable jobs. I have come to the realisation that, eventually, I will be able to find something- and I am comforted by the fact that thankfully I’m surrounded by family and have a roof over my head.