The millennial generation is stressed about unemployment—and rightly so.
According to the United States Labor Department, 16.1 percent of millenials, also known as Gen Y (or young adults born between the years 1980 and 2000), are unemployed, while a Harvard study found that only six in 10 millenials have a job. Unemployment is said to be one of the three most stressful events in life, along with death and divorce—perhaps this explains why one study found that millenials are currently the most stressed out generation. The fact is, millenials came of age during one of the worst economic slumps in history. But according to Jason Dorsey, an outspoken millennial and author of Y-Size Your Business, members of Gen Y possess the ability to become valuable and high-performing employees. And health and fitness can help make it happen.
Developing health and fitness routines can turn the tide of unemployment blues by helping jobless millenials cope and cultivate skills and attitudes that are not only helpful on the job hunt, but also when it comes to long-term career success.
12 Ways Yoga and Fitness Can Help Millennials Cope with Unemployment
- Improve Self-Confidence
Regular workouts and the physical practice of yoga develop strength of body, mind, and spirit. Additionally, meditation and yogic breathing techniques help establish certainty about your inherent value. Improved carriage and self-assurance speaks loudly to prospective employers who are looking for people who can convince them they’ll get the job done.
- Keep Energy Levels High
A sweaty, strong workout or yoga class releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. Endorphins naturally boost vitality and mood and induce relaxation so you can remain engaged and calm during the application process and at interviews. These chemicals can also help keep spirits high, even when faced with the possible buzzkill of rejection.
- Enhance Focus
Working out, practicing yoga, learning to breathe properly, and meditating can all help strengthen concentration. When looking for a job, it’s important to keep your specific goals in mind to the exclusion of all other distractions. Scheduling regular meditation and sweat sessions builds tenacity so that you can stay focused for the long haul.
- Develop Self-Awareness
Knowing yourself enables you to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Yoga, in particular, is geared toward self-study (or Svadyaya in Sanskrit). Once you identify areas of yourself that need improvement, you will be well on your way to putting your best foot forward and making the strongest impression on the job market.
- Build Endurance
There’s nothing like stamina to win a race—both literal and figurative. Physical challenges, like exercise and yoga, help build emotional endurance and mental toughness. Ultimately, finding employment is very much a numbers game. You’ve got to stay in it to win it, and you must be able to endure the hardship of rejection. Conquering physical challenges will help you realize that you’re able to overcome any obstacle in your job-hunting path.
- Provide Structure
Lack of structure in day-to-day life can be a major source of stress. Waking up late, not knowing what to do with your time, and ruminating are all productivity setbacks. Establish a routine by beginning each day with exercise or yoga. Set aside the next few hours for work-related calls and research. Then, make a healthy lunch, keep up on the news of your industry, and read helpful books relating to your search. Before you know it, a productive and happy day will be over.
- Establish Hormonal Balance
Being healthy and fit helps to stave off stress-induced hormonal fluctuations, which can manifest as depression, anxiety, or weight gain. The moment we get stressed, our brains and bodies produce cortisol and adrenaline. In the right amounts, these hormones are essential for well-being; however when over-produced, they can be counter-productive—causing slow digestion, unnecessary hunger, and unhealthy behaviors around food. Exercise, meditation, slow breathing techniques, and restorative yoga can help keep “fight or flight” hormones in check so that you can roll with the job-hunting punches and walk into any interview with your head up and an air of calm. Let the days of wallowing in sorrow and comforting yourself with food be gone!
- Connect with Others
When looking for a job, it’s important to demonstrate not only that you have the skills necessary to do good work, but also that you possess the people skills necessary to be a congenial coworker. Yoga is based on the premise that we are all connected through the universal pool of energy. Whether through breathing, movement, or philosophical teachings, yoga is an incredible way to develop empathy for others. With practice, you will learn how to walk into a room better able to read people and bond with them through eye contact and body language.
- Breed Compassion
Kindness is a key that opens many doors. In yoga, there is an ethic called Ahimsa, which calls for being compassionate towards all living things. The idea is that the quality of the energy you put out to the universe will come right back at you. So make your vibes positive and nice. Express interest in your prospective employers and make them feel good—every boss wants to know that you will support them, collaborate, listen to their ideas, and assist their needs. You might be surprised by how curious they become about you!
- Foster Commitment
Being healthy and fit requires consistency, discipline, and loyalty to yourself—all of which are qualities that suggest you will be a committed member of a team. And any employer is much more likely to hire someone they feel will stick around.
- Improve Decision Making
The inability to make decisions can be extremely stressful, especially when it comes to such big decisions as which job to pursue. Yoga helps establish clarity of mind when confronted with decision-making paralysis. When you don’t know what to do, try meditating. Chatter of the mind clouds thinking and must be quieted before you can draw thoughtful conclusions. When you operate from a place of clarity, you will make stronger decisions and have a better sense of the action steps necessary to go after the right opportunities.
- Build Creativity
Even just a simple walk can stimulate our creativity centers. “Eureka moments” do wonders to alleviate stress and give us new insights into how to pursue the job application process. Before you know it, you’ll have a whole new unique shtick with which to set yourself apart in your cover letter.
Getting fit and embracing your health will help alleviate the stress of unemployment. The principles of wellness teach critical life lessons that will be advantageous as you look for jobs as well through the many ups and downs of your career. Your health is your armor for the inherent challenges of the workforce!
Julie Wilcox is founder and CEO of The Julie Wilcox Method (The JWM), which integrates the three essential pillars of health: yoga, fitness, and food. The JWM is not a quick fix but a comprehensive healthy lifestyle that aims to bring practitioners total wellness for the long haul.