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How To Survive Unemployment and Get Back To Work

Updated on March 24, 2014

Manage Your Anxiety

Being let go from your job is one of the most stressful life events that can happen to us but also one of the most common. The body blow to your confidence and the money worries that keep you awake at night can turn every day into a misery and taint all your job-hunting with desperation. What are the top tips for not only surviving this experience but staying positive, motivated and moving forward?

Negative thoughts and feelings quickly feed into negative behaviours and you are dragged into a negative cycle that makes it increasingly difficult to motivate yourself. Taking into account the emotional impact and planning for how you will deal with the worst feelings is key to being able to take positive action:

  • Appreciate that a part of your life has gone when you walked away from your job. Allow yourself to mourn for what you have lost but don't get stuck. Accept that things happen for a reason and there is something else out there that you are meant to do.
  • Prepare for the fact that you will have bad days when you feel quite desperate. Plan for these times, what will you do when you feel overwhelmed?
  • Preparing a simple CBT self-message to tell yourself will help block the cycle of negative thoughts and feelings that feed into negative behaviours. 2 am is the worst time for this so it’s useful to keep a notepad by your bed with your key positive messages to yourself.

Cycle of Negativity

Negative thoughts and feelings can lead to changing behaviours which trap you in a downward spiral
Negative thoughts and feelings can lead to changing behaviours which trap you in a downward spiral | Source

Put First Things First

Take some time to check that everything is correct and that you have been dealt with properly by your employers, big companies make mistakes as well. Then review your household finances:

  • Ensure you have received your full entitlements. Check your redundancy payments or severance pay. If you are a member of a union they will help ensure all your legal rights have been met.
  • Deal with your finances. This can be difficult but putting in off will make it worse. Set a budget, go through all your financial affairs systematically - direct debits, accounts, savings – to make sure you are getting the best deals. Transfer to cashback accounts if possible.
  • Set yourself a weekly allowance for spending money. We often find ourselves spending money because we are bored and this will help to eliminate this.
  • If debts are starting to accumulate get some help. Debt advice charities will have a whole range of free online resources such as debt management plans, sample letters to help you write to creditors, up to date information and legislation and budgeting guides.
  • Take care of yourself. Getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet will keep your energy levels up and help you stay positive.

Get Organised

Organising your finances and your time will relieve some of the worry and enable you to be proactive and plan your future
Organising your finances and your time will relieve some of the worry and enable you to be proactive and plan your future | Source

Plan Your Time

The time can quickly drift by without a routine and structure to your days. You will have to establish your own time plan and frame up your days to keep you moving forward and achieving your goals.

  • Allocate a proportion of your week to job-hunting and use this time realistically, don’t waste time applying for jobs you are not qualified for.
  • Research the most productive avenues before you start. Prioritize agencies and websites that have the most vacancies in your area.
  • Associated activities are just as valuable. Extend your networks through social media such as linkedin or research opportunities to extend your knowledge. If there are no training opportunities available try googling topics you are interested in or looking up professional/trade journals at the public library.
  • Set aside time each day to get out of the house. Being at home on your own is a dramatic contrast to a busy work place and isolation can exacerbate an anxious situation and quickly lead to depression.
  • Take time to see friends and keep up with hobbies and activities you enjoy. It’s not helpful to get into punishing yourself for your situation.
  • Think about this time as fixed, imagine yourself in the future looking back on a sabbatical, what would you have liked to have achieved. Use any spare time to do something you’ve always wanted to, re-design your garden, write short stories or join a sports team.
  • Give yourself the weekends off. New jobs won’t be listed at the weekend so take a couple of days off worrying and recharge your batteries.

Get Help!

Finally don’t struggle on alone. You are responsible for ensuring you get the support you need so ask advice and take up any offer of help. Signing up to a good career change blog such will inject motivation when you are flagging. Decide what you want and don’t be put off or dragged down by negative thoughts.

Good luck!


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