Sunday, September 6, 2009

Coping With Rising Unemployment

Unemployment is set to hit 9.7% nationally.  Many places are already in double digits.  There are no signs of imminent turnaround in those numbers which means stress levels on millions of American families is going to remain at code red levels for a while.  I know how it feels.  I have experienced two long stretches of unemployment in my life.  I remember the frustration, the hopelessness, the helplessness and the bewilderment.  It's difficult to describe the attack on one's self esteem. 

Here are some coping tips for those facing or experiencing unemployment:

  • Trust.  First, trust in God.  He has you in the palm of His hand, even when it feels like you're free falling.  Secondly, trust in yourself.  You have skills.  You matter. You have strengths.  You offer value.  Far from worthless, you are a priceless treasure, created in the image of almighty God.  But you may have to remind yourself of that from time to time. 
  • Abandon Credit Cards.  Statistically, many people use credit cards in times of unemployment for many basics like groceries and utilities.  In the end, it makes the financial hole bigger.  Credit Cards are not for emergencies.  They create them.
  • Get on a written budget.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Now more than ever, you need to make every dime count.  For budget help
  • Create a routine.  The despair from unemployment can easily turn even the most stout hearted individual into a couch potato.  Face each day with a plan.  Write it down just like you would if you were creating your task list at work.  Formalize your schedule with set times for job hunting, resume work, exercise (I treated exercise like a part time job and got very fit. My only regret was not keeping that up after I found employment), yard work, house work, prayer time.  Don't let life happen to you.  Make life happen FOR you.
  • Get creative.  Look at your skills and talents rather than just your resume as you seek the next phase in your career path.  There are multiple options for you to pursue outside of 'what you've always done'.  You can find some great tips, tools and resources at
  • Make a game out of bargain hunting and finding ways to cut costs.  Even after all this time, I still get a thrill out of finding a way to save a buck on anything, especially things like utility bills.
  • Stay focused.  You will have times of great hope and times of deep hopelessness. Make sure you work your plan rather than allow yourself to be carried along by your emotions.  
  • Help others.  Nothing will help you take your mind off your own problems better than assisting another person with his/hers.  Volunteer at a nursing home.  Help out at Habitat for Humanity.  Help out at your Church office.  The opportunities are endless.
You will find work.  Maybe it will take a while, maybe it won't.  And you may find out that the next job is better than the last one, so don't assume that you will have to settle for less.  That's exactly what happened for me.  After a long period of unemployment, I found a job that put me on a career path that has been fruitful in more ways than I can count.  It ain't over till it's over.  You can win!