10 Ways to Cope with Sudden Unemployment

You've just been laid off unexpectedly and your first instinct is to start scouring the Internet job sites and call some headhunters. Before you leap into action it might be wise to take stock of your situation. If you interview immediately you stand the chance of coming across as negative, highly emotional and confused.

1. DO ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR EMOTIONS
Preferably at home! Expect to have emotions in reaction to this event. Give yourself permission to feel angry, scared, confused, resentful, sad or relieved.

2. TAKE TIME TO REGROUP
Don't interview in the first week - you won't come across well if you are shell-shocked. But do start to move forward by thinking about your next job. Are you looking for the same type of work? Or do a want to take this as an opportunity to change careers? As a starting place, use the first week to look at job postings and to think about your career path.

3. GET YOURSELF A SUPPORT SYSTEM
Being unemployed is a very stressful time for most people. Your self-confidence and self-esteem may be highly tied to your last job. Your family and friends, although initially supportive, may soon tire of your plight so think of an alternative support system. Consider a career coach or motivational tapes.

4. SORT OUT YOUR FINANCES
Prepare yourself for a longer search than you anticipate. Look at your budget. What do you need to do? Cut down on expenses? Get a loan?

5. DEFINE YOUR WORK AREA
If you plan to conduct your search from your home, set aside a quiet space that will be your home office. What will you need? A cell phone? A computer & printer? A new e-mail address? Business cards?

6. CREATE A NEW DAILY ROUTINE
Having a structure to your day will help you to use your time effectively and reduce your inevitable mood swings. Use a day-timer. Let others know that you will be working Monday to Friday on your job search. Do leave time for your family and friends.

7. HAVE A GOOD STORY TO TELL
Have an initial short two-line story about what happened and about three sentences to describe what you are looking for. Practice saying this out loud until you don't sound angry, resentful or upset. 

8. TAKE STOCK OF YOUR EXERCISE & DIET
Exercise can provide a release from negative emotions and stress. The release of serotonin will help to make you feel better. Check your diet. Heavy carbohydrates as comfort food will lead to mood swings. Make sure you are taking the supplements you need.

9. TREAT YOURSELF
Yes, Have FUN. All slog will make you boring. Add something to your daily routine to lift your spirits. Build in laughter to each day. Rent a comedy film. Play with your children.

10. CONSIDER VOLUNTEERING
Even if you feel that all your attention should be on your search; consider allocating a little time giving to others. Apart from being valuable in itself, this may give you some perspective, an opportunity to feel useful and productive, and has the potential for networking.

So, at the end of the day, will taking these actions find you a new position? No, these are just the first steps. But now, instead of thrashing around, you will be organized, have a more positive attitude and will have prepared yourself for the job search process.

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