5 Ways to Deal With Unemployment Stress

Whether you’re about to graduate from college or you recently lost your job, facing unemployment is a scary prospect. The unknown of how long you will be out of work is always at the center of your stress. The times I’ve been in between jobs I’ve always said if I only knew when I’d get my next job I could totally enjoy my unemployment!

The key to dealing with your unemployment is to take your mind off the “what ifs” in terms of failure. For example, “What if I can’t pay my bills?” or “What if I never find a job?” While it’s true that you may have to borrow money to make ends meet, the chance of you never finding a job is unlikely. It may take a while, but it will happen if you use your time off wisely. So to take your mind off these negative “what ifs” and focus instead on the positive aspects of unemployment, here are five great ways to be successfully unemployed.

  1. Reflect on Your Career Path
  2. When you’re in college and/or working you hardly have time to think about what you really want in terms of a career. But when you’re unemployed you have nothing but time. So instead of spending your unemployment fretting over the future, use the time to soul search and reflect on your career path by doing things like taking a meditation class (so you can think more clearly). Also now’s a good time to research businesses you might like to work for, but you need to do more than just read their websites. And since you currently have a little time time, join professional organizations in your industry so you can interview people whose jobs you think you might want. That way you can come up with alternative jobs in your industry that can get you to you want to be later

    In our hectic daily lives we simply ride the crest of the career wave wherever it may take us. But now you have the time to actually take control and plot a course.

  3. Be Your Own Recruiter
  4. Unemployment is when you can become good at all those self-marketing things you don’t do when you have a job—like learn how to write a killer resume, research job websites (such as Monster.com), clean up your Facebook page (make it look professional), join all the social media outlets (LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, etc.) and build your own website. If you can’t afford the annual hosting fee, then make your Facebook page your website. You may think you’ve done all that, but chances are you haven’t been as thorough as you’d like to believe.

    Also create a daily schedule for yourself. This gives you a reason to get up in the morning. For example, list all the tasks you need to do everyday in order to land an interview (i.e. send out x number of resumes, make x number of new contacts on LinkedIn, start a blog, etc.). Set short-term and long-term goals. Make finding work YOUR JOB until you actually get a job.

  5. Be Flexible in Your Employment Choices
  6. Okay, so you want to be an aerospace engineer (for example), but Boeing isn’t hiring. Research what else you’re qualified for in the aerospace industry and apply for those jobs instead. Once you get your foot in the door it’s a lot easier to change jobs within the company than to break in from the outside. In other words, consider ALL occupations that match your qualifications AND interests. Is there any way you could combine both into an interim job you haven’t considered?

  7. Get Healthy
  8. One of the downfalls of college and work is that you have no time for yourself, and thus things like diet and exercise go by the wayside. Well, now that you have a little time on your hands you can turn your attention to eating right and going for an occasional jog. Studies have shown that it costs less to grocery shop and eat at home than it does to go out to eat, and the lucky byproduct of that is that you might even lose a little weight (or at the very least improve your health). Plus, exercise and proper diet reduces stress, which is helpful given that unemployment isn’t exactly a day at the beach.

  9. (You) Don’t (Have to) Worry About Losing Your Job
  10. There is nothing worse than the anticipation of bad news. And when you’re employed, and people are being let go left and right at work, you can’t help but wonder if you’re going to be next. True, it’s better to look for a new job while you still have one, but let’s face it. If you’re already unemployed you don’t have to wake up everyday and speculate, “Is this the day I’ll be laid off from work?”

To bridge the stress gap of being unemployed you have to focus on the things over which you have control; your daily schedule, your diet, your exercise routine, the number of resumes you send out, the amount of networking you do, etc. Sitting idle, eating Twinkies and washing them down with a diet soda will only give you ample time to worry. Your official job while unemployed is to look for work, and there’s no reason you can’t embrace that objective just as much as you covet that Twinkie.

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