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By Kimberly Hayes

You’ve started your recovery journey. Congratulations! You should also be congratulated for looking for that first post-addiction job opportunity. This is a process that will test your ego, your ability to communicate and network, and your skills at zeroing in on getting a job where you and your employer are a great fit for one another.

It does take time, however. According to Money, the average job search takes about six weeks, or 43 days. Those 43 days can tick by slowly, and each rejection, each flat interview, each time a company that says they’ll call you but never does can ratchet up your stress level. What’s scary is that stress overload might cause you to relapse.

However, there are a few ways you can keep yourself busy and bring in some money to help make ends meet as you look for your first job. Combine these with the coping mechanisms you have learned – your meditation and relaxation techniques – and you should come out on the other side of those six weeks with a nice new job and maybe a little bit of money in the bank (and perhaps even a new skill to add to your resume).

Here are two to consider:

Hire Yourself Out as a Service

There are plenty of people whose busy lives prevent them from taking care of even the smallest tasks. Consider offering yourself as an errand runner for senior citizens who can’t make it out of their homes, or for those who are undergoing cancer treatment or cannot get out of the house for some other reason. As an errand runner, you’ll perform tasks like picking up and dropping off dry cleaning, mailing letters and packages, or going shopping. You can also hire yourself out as a “waiting service,” where someone hires you to wait at their home for plumbers, the cable or satellite TV company, or any other repair service. Consider also lending yourself as a dog walker or pet sitter, where folks hire you to pay a visit to their pets to walk them, feed them, and play with them. If you truly enjoy working with dogs, you could also operate a doggy day-care. Working with pets this way allows you to become responsible for another living thing, which can help you maintain your sobriety.

Turn a Hobby Into a Craft Business

If you already have a hobby where you work with your hands, consider turning it into a small business and selling what you create online on Etsy and other sites. Also, if you play a musical instrument, think about offering lessons to either young students or adults. According to Rebecca Adams at The Huffington Post, it’s apparently easier for adults to learn to play an instrument, mainly because they have spent a lifetime listening to it, so you might already have some potential students among your acquaintances.  You can either offer these lessons at your home or theirs. Be careful, however, that you don’t end up overbooking yourself. That can lead to stress, and work-related stress can be a trigger for relapse.

Create a Productive Workspace

Whichever route you take, you’ll need a workspace that will keep you focused on your work. If you’re hiring yourself out as a contract worker, you may only need a work station that has everything you need for when you’re on the job. If you walk dogs, for example, you’ll want to keep clean-up bags, treats, and any toys you take on your visits all in one place. If you teach music lessons or take on another job where you’ll host clients, you’ll want a home office that’s welcoming to visitors. If at all possible, you should choose a room in your home that has its own private entrance and bathroom, but at the very least, it should be an area that is away from the busiest parts of your home (like the living room and children’s bedrooms), is free of clutter, and has plenty of space for the both of you. If you’ll be crafting and selling handmade items, choose a place where you can work comfortably and safely, and where you can take quality pictures of your goods to post online.

No matter which of these two paths you take to make some extra money as you search for work, you must remember to use your coping mechanisms whenever you feel too stressed. Furthermore, once you get that first job, there will be even more stress as you acclimate yourself to the new working environment. If this is your first job, you’ll probably feel some anxiety over your initial performance. Never forget, though, that your sobriety is the most important thing in your life at this time. But also keep in mind that you’re working toward having a job you love along with a sober life you love living.