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Start With Yourself

The most important thing you as an unemployed worker must do can be one of the most difficult: keep a strong, positive attitude about yourself and your future.

Unemployment is bad enough for single workers. But loss of work is particularly frightening for those with families depending on them.

It’s hard to tell your family about job loss because we all take pride in providing. But talking to your family is an important step in the process of weathering unemployment. 

Talk to Your Family

Include Your Children

“The thing I hated the most,” said a laid-off textile worker at a workshop in Georgia, “was telling my kids that things are going to be a little tight for a while.”

Unemployment is tough on the whole family. Your spouse and children may feel as helpless as you do. Talk out your problems and plan together.

Children generally sense tension in the home. Explain your unemployment situation to them and include them in developing your plans to deal with it. Older children tend to get a sense of belonging and closeness when you confide in them. They usually respond by understanding and wanting to do their part for the family.

Plan and Work TOGETHER to Reduce Household Costs

Each member can help a family make it through hard times. By sharing the burden and pulling together, members of a family grow closer together and draw strength from one another.

Also, children can help reduce financial pressure on parents by delaying requests for expensive extras. By taking a part-time, weekend job, teenagers can help reduce financial pressure on parents. It enables each member of the family to take positive steps to help.

Keep a Positive Attitude

You take pride in your skills. Your work provides for your family. Your job is a vital part of your sense of who you are and how you feel about yourself. Your closest friends may be your co-workers.

Your job is important to you—not only for the money it provides, but also for the satisfaction it gives you. That’s why losing your job is traumatic—whether it means temporarily losing the entire family income or only part of it.It is natural to feel afraid, angry and depressed when you are out of work. You may feel helpless and betrayed. You may subconsciously blame yourself.A first big step in keeping a positive attitude is to recognize the natural feelings of depression, fear, anger and helplessness. If you recognize feelings, you can overcome them. Taking stock of the good things in your life—family, friends, skills—is important to improving your outlook.

Don't Let the Blues Affect Your Relationships

The bad feelings associated with loss of your job not only affect the way you feel about yourself; those same feelings can hurt your relationships with your family and friends.

The stress of financial hard times and the feeling of “being down” can cause friction with a spouse. These same feelings can cause emotional withdrawal and sexual problems. There is always the temptation to escape through overeating, alcohol or substance abuse.

Worrying can make you impatient with your spouse and children. Small problems or inconveniences can seem to be larger than they really are. You may become quick to anger. Heavy use of alcohol or drugs can cause a serious lack of control. For these reasons, an unemployed worker is much more likely to lose control and abuse a spouse or child.

You may wish to talk to someone you respect about your feelings. A friend, union counselor, clergyman, professional counselor or doctor may help you sort out your feelings. Your local mental health center or family counseling agency (listed in the phone book) can help. Don’t be embarrassed to talk about your feelings with someone.

Stress Management

 Anger, fear and anxiety about money are probably the most powerful sources of stress. Too much stress is dangerous for your physical and mental health, and it can add to the difficulties of being out of work.

Besides, stress makes it hard to maintain a positive attitude. Stress also makes it harder to take the actions needed to make it through these tough times.

Again, the important thing is to recognize stress. If you can recognize stress, you can control it and learn to relax and think clearly.

If you sense that your feelings are too much for you to handle, or if you find it difficult to get out of bed and take action, see a professional counselor. There is nothing shameful or weak in needing someone to help sort out your feelings. Counseling is available at little or no cost through the local mental health agency or through a family services agency.

In most larger communities, a variety of family support services is available through family counseling or family service agencies. Services may include marriage counseling, child or spouse abuse treatment, credit and financial counseling and referral services.

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Six-Step Stress Control Program

1. Talk about your problems with someone close to you.

2. Meet for support and understanding with fellow employees who share your situation. Exchange job search information and tips.

3. Work off frustration through exercise and sports. Exercise is a great stress reducer.

4. Escape for a while by enjoying a relaxing activity.

5. Avoid overeating, and try to eat healthy foods.

6. Spend time with your family. Do things together as often as you can.

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