A Job No More

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People who have lost their jobs potentially face significant emotional, psychological, financial and physical challenges. It is an unpleasant and difficult predicament, a trap door to anger and resentment, outrage and depression. To add to the injury, the jobless invariably face a bevy of insensitive assessments (“These things happen for a reason.”) to time-worn clichés such as “I’m sure something better will come along.”

Job loss can impact nearly every aspect of a person’s life, from spending habits to self-esteem. Job loss can make people stronger, meeker, energized or demoralized. It can turn job seekers into small-business owners or consultants. It can spark ambition or extinguish it. And how anyone will handle a job loss cannot be always predicted. Most people will need some time to bounce back.

Managing Emotions and Psychological Stress

There’s no doubt, regardless of whether you loved or hated your job, you will feel its loss. Lynn Joseph, the author of “The Job-Loss Recovery Guide” and manager of joblossrecovery.com, sees the following as constants following job loss: shock and denial, fear and anxiety, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and closure.

Joseph told The Washington Post she suggests a four-part process. First, “recognize your true feelings” and the anger inside you. Second, look for a safe outlet. Write your thoughts down. “Writing for 20 minutes a day over six days has been scientifically shown to lead to reframing difficult situations like job loss, new insights and even to landing a job sooner.” Third, search for a sense of forgiveness, of yourself, or your former employer. You need not express it to your former boss, for example, but you must feel it in yourself. Fourth, change is going to come. The first three steps will lead to a better sense of yourself and prepare you for the work world again.

Financial Aspects of Unemployment

You will need to get your financial house in order. Minnesotans can find out how to apply for unemployment benefits by logging onto uimn.org. Residents of other states can visit careeronestop.org for information about unemployment insurance. If applicable, try to get health coverage through your spouse’s employer or your parents. If that is not an option, sign up for COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), which allows you to pay group rates for health insurance for a limited time. Be prepared for added expenses because you will be paying the full cost of the insurance without any funding from your former employer if your COBRA ends or if you do not have the option for COBRA coverage. Or visit mnsure.org, Minnesota’s online health exchange that was launched in September 2013. The website is part of the federal law requiring virtually all U.S. adults to carry health insurance or pay a penalty. Using MNsure, you can search for health insurance options according to ZIP code and other criteria. The federal government website is healthcare.gov.

Should you receive a severance package, use it carefully. You have no idea how long you will remain unemployed. The key is to budget your money. What do you need to live? How much does your mortgage, rent, food, entertainment and transportation cost? What can you live without? The reality of your situation may force some hard choices about getting rid of certain expenses such as top tier cable television, eating out three times a week, going to movies or attending concerts and plays.

A strategy going forward is to cut extraneous costs early on just in case unemployment lasts longer than you assumed. The Web has excellent budgeting tools available for free or for relatively affordable subscriptions. Miranda Marquit in GoodFinancialcents.com suggests that Mint.com, BudgetPulse.com, Buxfer.com and Moneytrackin’.com are among the best online budgeting tools. Many of these financial tools can be accessed anywhere and anytime with an app for your smartphone.

Physical Challenges

Unemployment can create health issues. Laid-off workers are 54 percent more likely than those continuously employed to have fair or poor health and 83 percent more likely to develop a stress-related condition such as stroke, heart attack, heart disease or arthritis.

How can you avoid that? Build in an exercise regimen. Of all the expenses you may have, try to keep the health club membership. Or, use local recreation centers and the great outdoors to keep your body in shape. The tendency of job seekers is to surf the Web for any potential jobs, make networking calls, attend networking meetings and then find time to get in some exercise. Experts suggest setting that exercise time into your schedule early since it will help you deal with the stress and disillusionment of unemployment while preparing your mind and body for the rigors of job hunting.

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