10 Tips to Managing Your Midlife Unemployment Woes

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Being jobless is difficult in any stage of life, but finding oneself unemployed during the midlife years can be especially challenging. Hardships at this time can include family demands, poor health, lack of updated skills, financial burdens, and the general feelings of grief and anger that can accompany a lost job. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to manage your stress level and be a proactive participant in your job hunt. Here are 10 tips:

1. Start Your Job Search Immediately

Even if you get severance pay, don’t take a break and don’t consider this time a vacation. You should be spending frugally and managing your money more carefully. At this time, finding a new job should be your number one priority.

2. Let Go With Grace

Holding on to anger only holds you to the old job. Let go with grace. No matter how poorly you were treated, the way ahead is forward, never backwards. Do not want to engage in gossip or display ill will toward your old coworkers and company. Remember, you don't want to burn bridges because you never know when you will need a recommendation or what opportunities your previous employment can bring.

3. Lose Weight or Get Fitter

While you shouldn't go on a vacation or spending bender, you can use this time to better take care of yourself. Start working out; start eating healthily. Physically, you will feel better. Furthermore, studies have shown that overweight women earn less and are less likely to get good performance reviews than those who are not obese due to discrimination in the workforce. If you don’t need to lose weight, maintain a regular exercise routine to at least tone up your body as well as to alleviate some of the stress you are feeling.

4. Brush Up Your Skills

If you’re out of work for any length of time, software programs many change and new technology may make your existing skills set obsolete. Take this time to brush up on old skills as well as to learn some new ones so you can build out your resume and be a more desirable employee. There are many online tutorials that are free or offered for a nominal fee; of course, you can always take a class at your local community college as well.

5. Stay in Contact With Old Coworkers

Put in the effort to keep your old coworkers. Joining a professional networking site is an easy way to keep in touch and get your resume out there. Previous coworkers are often a good source for job leads. Furthermore, make sure your friends know you are looking for a job as well. You never know who's going to generate a successful job lead.

6. Reach Out

Being unemployed can be lonely and feel isolating. Do not let yourself become a hermit and closed off as that can lead to depression and anxiety. Use this time stay connected to your friends, or better yet, reconnect with those friends that you have been thinking about but just haven't had the time for as of late.

7. Spend Time with Your Spouse or Partner

It’s not unusual for marriages to be tested during stressful times, and midlife unemployment can definitely put a strain on a relationship. Openly talk to your spouse or partner about the challenges ahead and commit to working together. If a formerly stay-at-home spouse must now work, adjust your schedules and household chores so the unemployed partner can increase his or her non-financial contribution. As stress mounts over time, show appreciation for each other, talk over your concerns, and remember that all things are temporary, but your marriage/partnership is for life.

8. Prepare for the Long Haul

It could take months to find a job. Even if you are getting government unemployment, be conscientious of your spending and save money if you can. Cut out unnecessary luxuries from your budget, and think of strategies on how to reduce your spending. You don't know how long your situation is going to last. You do not want to have to dip into your savings or retirement fund unless absolutely necessary.

9. Balance Your Time

While looking for a job should be your number one priority, very few people can put in 40 hours a week in the job search. Spend your time strategically, pursuing the most likely job opportunities, while balancing your time with other activities. Keep your priories focused on the new job, but allow yourself a few hours weekly for your mental and physical health as well as some social recreation.

10. Be Aware of Depression

Handling life's challenges such as unemployment can be stressful and cause anxiety--that is normal. However, when your anxiety turns into feelings of hopelessness and futility, you may have depression. Monitor your mental health regularly, and if life feels too overwhelming, seek out counseling.

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