How To Stay Active While You Are Unemployed

When you lose your job, you lose more than your income and benefits, You also lose the activities and challenges that defined a majority of your day. Suddenly being thrown off of a well-established routine can be a difficult, even traumatic, adjustment. With no one expecting you to be anywhere on time, the temptation to slack off can be overwhelming. And while unemployment is a good opportunity to relax and de-stress a little, getting too complacent can make you less happy, less healthy, and even less likely to find a new job.

An idle mind has more time to dwell on big problems that you can’t easily fix, like missed opportunities, things you still haven’t accomplished, and other people doing better than you. An idle body becomes flabby and atrophied from underuse, and can develop problems like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. An idle worker raises red flags with interviewers, who will see gaps in your résumé wonder if you are right for employment.

So there are plenty of good reasons to stay active, and plenty of good (cheap) ways.


While you are unemployed, you have nothing but time, so why not donate it to local charities or non-profits that do good in your community? Volunteering even a couple hours a week at soup kitchens, animal shelters, or nature preserve benefits not only the charity, but you as well. Seeing other people in need can help you keep perspective on your own situation, and keep you from getting to mired in self-pity. Cleaning up parks or trails can help you keep fit and keep your spirits up. Volunteer time can also look good on your résumé. It shows employers not only that you are a giving person, but also that you like to keep busy.

Get an Internship

I know what you’re thinking: aren’t internships for college kids? Well, yes, but hear me out. Interns tend to be college kids because what they lack in job skills, they make up for in willingness to pitch in and learn. Employers hire college kids because they make up most of the talent pool for internships, but from their perspective, there is no reason an intern has to be a college student. Anyone who is willing to put in a few hours a week without expecting a paycheck will do. In fact, employers may prefer more experienced interns that they don’t have to watch so closely. Internships are a great way for you to test out the waters in various industries and companies. Not only do you get to add experience to your résumé, you might also get the chance to leverage your work into a paid gig.

Get Fit

Losing your job gives you plenty of time to pursue your goals outside of work. One goal that most people share is to get in better shape. You might think that working out is out of reach. But the dirty little secret about keeping fit is that you don’t need a gym membership to do it. People pay for the gym as a way to motivate themselves and get a short, intense workout when they can fit it in. Since you’ve got plenty of time on your hands, you can adopt a more steady and moderate exercise regimen, which some experts say is better. You can work out on the cheap by running, walking, and riding your bike. Buy some cheap hand weights and do some curls while you watch TV. You can also look online for cheap yoga and Pilates classes or meetups in your area (or buy a DVD and a mat and do it at home). If you simply have to go to the gym to keep motivated, ask your local gyms about group discounts or discounts for the unemployed. Or better yet, go to your local YMCA for cheap access to workout machines and classes.

Get Together With Other Unemployed People

With the national unemployment rate hovering around 9%, and some states seeing 15% to 20% of people without work, there are plenty of people in your area in the same boat as you. They probably need to get out and stay active as much as you do. Meeting with other unemployed people once a week gives you the opportunity to gain job search insights, vent your frustrations with people who understand your situation, and expand your social circle at the same time. You don’t need to make it into a group therapy session though. You can meet for coffee, go for walks in the park, or even meet for happy hour. Socializing with other people helps relieve stress, and adds to your support network when times get tough. Find or start a group on Meetup or craigslist.

Start a Blog

If you have specialized knowledge of a particular industry, you can keep yourself active and up-to-date by blogging about it. Not only does blogging keep you in the loop about goings-on in your industry, it also makes a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and insight to future employers. Set up a Google news category and start following other blogs for your industry, and just write what you think. It doesn’t have to be stellar right away, but it is a good way to keep your gears turning and keep yourself engaged. Not only can you start a blog for free on Blogger and WordPress, you can also sell ads and make a little cash.

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