Two Ways to Deal With the Temp Job Cycle

Michele Warg
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For temporary workers, instability and job insecurity are part of life. The constant insecurity can wreak havoc on your mental and physical well-being, particularly when it is sustained over a period of time. Finding ways to deal with the temp job cycle can help you stay healthy and sane.

Temporary work is no longer just for recent college graduates—it is rapidly becoming a larger part of the U.S. economy. In 2013, according to USA Today, approximately 12 percent of American jobs were temporary positions. The jobs range from manual labor to highly paid professional work, but each one shares a common feature: an expiration date.

Whether you're stacking boxes at Walmart or serving as a public relations consultant, the temp job cycle can be stressful and damaging to your health. Worries about finding the next job can be all-consuming. Instead of finding time for play, you may wind up staring frantically at a computer screen, searching for the next temp job and sending out endless email resumes.

The most important—and, for many temporary workers, most difficult—thing you can do to deal with the stress of the temp job cycle is to take care of yourself. Spend at least one hour per day on activities that make you feel happy and relaxed. Take a walk, go to the gym, cook a healthy meal or spend time with friends. Do what feels good; if you're working long hours, a nap might be the best option.

Self-care goes beyond carving out free time. When you're in the throes of constant job-hunting and dealing with workplace stress, it is easy to fall into bad habits that hurt your physical and mental health. Daily fast food meals and a poor sleep schedule will only make your stress worse—and probably cause you to put on weight. Take care of yourself by eating healthy meals, staying hydrated and making a point to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. If nothing else, focus on sleep. After seven or eight hours of rest, you'll feel more relaxed and better able to deal with the temp job cycle.

For many people in temporary positions, financial concerns loom larger than anything else. After all, few things are more stressful than worrying about making ends meet. Building up savings can be a remarkably effective way to deal with the insecurity of the temporary job cycle. Don't wait to start saving—start immediately. For the next two or three months, cut out all of the small treats from your budget. Stop drinking $4 lattes. Say no to dinner out. Don't buy new clothes or accessories. Keep going until you've built up at least two months of living expenses. Though it is uncomfortable, a few months of living frugally can eliminate hours of stress and worry. With money saved, you can eliminate the constant, nagging worry about paying next month's rent or putting gas in your car.

Dealing with the stress of the temp job cycle requires a sharp focus and a concerted effort. By taking the process one step at a time, you can cut back on stress and rediscover your motivation to keep going or transition into more stable employment.


(Photo courtesy of stockimages /


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