Advantages to Being Laid Off

by Cindy Caldwell
(Atlanta, GA)

Why get depressed? Sure, there are bills & mortgage to be paid, but there's only so much you can do about that. Think about all the great things you can do with your 'free time' (and if you're like me and suddenly a Stay-at-Home-Parent, you know there's very little 'free' time during your day).

Every time you think of something good about your situation, jot it down. When you do get in a funk about your job search, bring out the list and make the best of your time. I've started a "Top 10" list based on my own experience...add to it!

1) Catch up on your reading; better yet, get reacquainted with your local library. No money for movies or cable--no problem...plenty of books, CDs and DVDs available for free.

2) Clean and organize your house; get to all those projects you didn't have time to do while working.

3) Develop an exercise routine and stick with it. If you have a gym membership, let it be the very last "luxury" item you let go. Exercising first thing in the morning will give you a reason to get out of bed, a reason to shower, and make you feel good about yourself. The morning after I got laid off I went to Pilates class. Best thing I did that day. Even if you don't have a gym membership, borrow exercise videos, or simply go for a walk in the morning.

4) Spend more quality time with your kids and pets. My cats are thrilled that I'm home all day! My teen daughter actually is happier too, because I can pick her up from school and I'm not stressed about her schedule conflicting with my work schedule. Dinner gets on the table before 9pm now. Our schedule is a little less chaotic. Relish this time with your kids.

5) Catch up on all personal email. At the same time, unsubscribe to all the special offers/newsletters so you don?t get depressed about not having any money.

6) Turn your attention non-profit/volunteer work. Whatever your interest or field, there is probably a place you can volunteer. At a loss for ideas or don't want to commit long-term to anything? Donate blood. Volunteer for a project at your child's school. Help prepare meals and provide company at a homeless shelter. (Make sure to add this to your resume!)

7) Complete that incomplete personal project or start a new hobby. Writing a book, scrapbooking, quilting--now is the time to do it.

8) Go grocery shopping and run errands when it's not crowded in the stores (although watch for senior special days--then the stores are as crowded as it would be on a Saturday).

9) Work outside in the yard. Gardening and yardwork is very productive, Zen-like and gets you outside. Have more of a patio or windowsill than a yard? Plant a herb garden or hang a tomato plant.

10) Go back to school and learn a new skill. There are government programs which will pay your school expenses while you collect unemployment. Your Department of Labor should be able to point you in the right direction.

If you look at unemployment as an opportunity for a new chapter in your life and a time of positive self-reflection, then you will succeed at feeling better about yourself and getting a new job...maybe when you least expect it.

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