If you are among the millions made redundant by this economy, you will find that idleness chips away at your self-esteem. As unemployment stretches from weeks into months, life essentials start eroding-- your energy, your sense of humor and even your sanity.
Solutions for coping with unemployment are not one-size-fits-all. How can you help resenting a list of tips that make coping with the complexities sound simple?
1. Grieve, but don't throw yourself on the funeral pyre.
When you first get sacked, you are entitled to a few days of watching DVDs in your pajamas, letting your hair get matted and oily, and wallowing in self-pity. If you have pets, they will enjoy wallowing with you. If you have a spouse and children, they will be alarmed, but insist they give you a little grieving period.
2. Get clean and get dressed.
Keep the grieving brief. If it goes on for more than a week, force yourself off the couch and into the shower. Get out of bed at the same time everyday (in the morning!) and get dressed in street clothes, not sweats. You will feel better.
3. Create a daily ritual.
Doesn't matter what your ritual is--you might choose to build a routine around a morning coffee and news reading. You might choose to walk to the corner store everyday and greet your neighbors. Consider starting the day with a few Sun Salutations or a couple of Krispy Kremes. You won't be able to amble around the neighborhood when you're working again, so try to appreciate the interlude.
4. Conduct brief, organized online job searches.
Check your Internet job sites at the same time everyday, perhaps after your Starbucks fix, or maybe sitting at your local Starbucks. Once you have registered for each job-search site and have created automatic searches, you need only check the newly listed positions.
Avoid the self-defeating trap of spending hours cycling through the sites, reminding yourself how many jobs you are unqualified for.
Seventy percent of available jobs are not advertised on the Internet, so keep your time on the Internet in proportion. Get on, get off, and move on.
5. Connect with former colleagues and old friends.
Don't call it networking, call it staying in touch. Networking sounds and feels like using people. Call or email former colleagues and vendors to chat and to keep up with what's going on in your field. If a job lead comes out of it, great, but the real benefit is preventing isolation.
Contact people with appropriate frequency. Don't stalk.
6. Find a networking buddy.
I didn't say you wouldn't have to network. You have to meet new people in your field-rule number one of job hunting, right? You need to join associations and attend their little mixers. If you are not a natural self promoter, this will suck and may not improve with time.
Find someone to make the rounds with. You probably have former colleagues who would be happy to go on the circuit with you. Endure these events with a buddy and they might become fun or bearable at least.
Some people dread exercise more than professional association mixers. For me, it's a tie. But exercise is like the shower with ten times more power. Exercise offers emotional benefits as well as physical benefits. You don't need to train for a marathon, just exercise more than you are now. Take walks. Create a weight lifting routine you can do at home. Be satisfied with incremental improvements.
8. Don't drink (or eat) excessively.
Drinking can make you forget your financial and self-worth problems for an evening. But ultimately, binge drinking increases depression. You can't create a positive routine nursing a hang-over. Over-eating won't increase your depression, but gaining weight will. You need to fit into your job interview suit.
Do you need to be told the rewards of volunteering? Try something you have always been interested in and never had time. Do something that makes you feel good. Increase your marketable skills. At its most base level, volunteer work gets you out of the house. Watch this ABC news feature about jobless men banding together to build a homeless shelter.
10. Take a class or take up a hobby.
Similar to volunteering, taking a class gives you somewhere to go. You can take a class to increase job skills, but consider taking a subject for its own sake, like art history or Italian cooking.
Pick up the hobby you've been neglecting or find a new hobby. If your hobby is too expensive, find a simpler one, like reading or gardening.
The common thread in all these tips is finding stability and new habits as you look for a new job. Your old routine is gone for good. Build a new, positive routine with whichever of these steps you think will help you.