Contributed by Mario H.

I’ve been unemployed for over a year. While this can be depressing and upsetting at times, I realized very early on that how I approached my situation was the most important thing. So, I created what I call the Mario rules that have helped me remain optimistic and upbeat during this difficult time.

Wake up early.  When I first lost my job, I would sleep in because I was excited by the novelty of having “time off” to do so. But after a while, this wore off and was very quickly replaced with getting down on myself for wasting away my days. So I decided that I had a new job: I was in the business of finding work for myself. With this perspective, I started waking up at 7:30 am and approached each day as I did when I was going to work. This made me feel more energetic and eager to do what I needed to in order to find employment.

Daily intentions.  I put together a list of actions I planned to accomplish each day. Coupled with getting up early, this list helps keep me in action and makes me feel more productive. At the end of the day I review how I did and update my list accordingly.

Exercise.  When I was employed one of the areas I slacked off on was getting enough exercise. Now, as part of my daily plan, I go for long, brisk walks and I have put together a simple exercise regimen including squats, lunges, sit-ups, and weights. In addition to preventing me from feeling sluggish, I am also getting fit which has been a goal of mine for some time.

Purge.  I decided to go through everything in my home and either sold or donated anything that I no longer felt I needed. Not only did I make some money in the process, I noticed that focusing my attention on this activity made me feel less anxious. Also, keeping my environment clean and free of clutter makes me feel better about myself.

Network/Socialize.  Every week I participate in different (free) networking events that I learn about through friends and Meetup. Networking helps me make connections and obtain referrals that I follow-up as part of my job search. In addition, I plan at least one fun, inexpensive activity with a friend. Socializing helps me stay connected with my friends, ensures that I get out of the house and reminds me to laugh and have fun.

Education.  I have taken tons of free classes through the unemployment office. They provided a list of outside sources as well as classes offered by the labor department. At each event, I make sure to speak with other attendees, exchange job search ideas and find out about more free educational services.

Do you have any tips on how to keep upbeat in hard times? We invite you to share your ideas in the box below.