7 ways to control stress during unemployment

The statistics are grim, unemployment in the United States continues to rise. More and more workers are finding themselves in the unemployment line. Unemployment seems to have no boundaries, as many white collar workers are finding themselves out of work as blue collar workers.


With so much uncertainty it is easy to see why so many loose hope, motivation and energy needed to start an effective job search. Now understand, all of these emotions are common reactions to a crisis that we may have had no control of. However, it is important to learn how to keep these emotions under control so they will not immobilize you. Here are seven ways to help control the stress of being unemployed:


  1. Maintain a perspective. Avoid the negative headlines.
    Have you watched or read the news lately? The news industry seems to be loving the horrible economy. Typically, in the last few months their lead stories are about those suffering job loss after job loss. Understandably, it's a news organizations job to get ratings and eyes on their stories. The problem being not all the news is gloomy, but good news does not receive high ratings, so they stick with what does...doom and gloom. Watching and reading all the negative news it is easy to find yourself in an atmosphere of negativity. So don't watch the news! While it is important to understand what is happening around you, keep your news watching to a minimum, maybe just a quick scan of the headlines. Your life has been disrupted by unemployment. Instead of feeding the disruption with negativity, turn on your favorite music instead. The rhythm and cadence of your favorite music can reduce depression, anger, and cease fear.
  2. Keep anxiety under control
    When you become unemployed your are suddenly out of your rhythm. One day you were a productive member at work and now you have nothing to do. It can lead to a high level of anxiety. We then try to sedate increased anxiety by doing something, anything to stop it. This often leads to excessive eating, drinking, and sleeping. Pay close attention to your habits. Are you beginning to spend more time indulging in bad habits? If you feel that you are being excessive in your bad habits, try to apply your time to productive activities. Get out your budget, find some ways to cut spending. Start clipping coupons to reduce your grocery bill.
  3. Get a productive hobby
    Following along the lines of the last step, we probably all have a hobby that we would like to get back to. Painting, writing, working on a car can all be rewarding hobbies that also produce a tangible product when we are done. But what if your hobbies are more passive? If you enjoy watching movies and television more than anything you can still turn it into a productive hobby. One suggestion is to start a blog. After watching a show or movie, hop onto your blog and write up a review about it. By doing this you will be making work for yourself, helping to ease any anxious feelings you may have after losing your job.
  4. Be simple
    After losing a job, it is easy to spend your days wondering about the 'what ifs'. What if you had you taken more overtime, would that have saved your job? What if you kissed butt more? Stop it. Learn to live in the hear and now. Your mind can become quickly overheated by all the questions that have no answers. Instead, try to take a cue from the family pet. Dogs can only accomplish one thing at a time. Try to learn that simplicity. By giving deep focus to one thing at a time it can help lower your heart rate and clear your mind.
  5. Exercise
    Put on your sneakers and go for a jog, this is a great time to get into shape. Our bodies are amazing machines. By simply running you can elevate your heart rate to a level that your body will release endorphins. Endorphins give you a sense of well being. It's instant natural stress relief. Exercising will also help keep you on a schedule. Plan a jog, or an hour of excersise and play each day. It will help reduce feeling of stress and instead will allow you to relax.
  6. Help someone
    Let's be honest, you are not the only one that has lost their job in this horrible economy. There may be someone near you that is having a worse time. Volunteer at the local soup kitchen, nursing home, or homeless shelter. Can you do handy man work? Put up a flier in your neighborhood, let people know you are available to help fix leaky sinks, change oil in a car, or other tasks that may be simple for you, but difficult and expensive to others. The gratitude you will receive will make you feel productive again and increase your sense of self-worth.
  7. Stay positive – even if you're faking it
    You are going through a tough time, and it is hard to be upbeat. However, congnitive psychologists have found that if you switch your thinking from an 'I can't' perspective to an 'I can' perspective it can rearrange your neural pathways to reach pleasure centers of the brain. In a nutshell, if you start thinking positively, even if you're forcing it, your brain will adjust itself into a more positive outlook. An important thing to remember to stay positive is that life is one big circle. There were good times in the past, there will be good times in the future. Understand that this is simply a detour, life will soon get back on track.