How to Manage Unemployment Misery

Unemployed,destitute man leaning against vacant store-photo by Dorothea Lange
Unemployed,destitute man leaning against vacant store-photo by Dorothea Lange

Unemployed, destitute man leaning against a vacant store, c. 1935. Photo by Dorothea Lange (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve talked before about the perils of long-term unemployment, and today I heard the news that according to the January Labour Force Statistics unemployment, particularly full-time unemployment (and unemployment misery) continues to rise…

The Federal Government suggests this is not really a problem, more of an indication that the Australian Bureau of Statistics can’t get its act together.  (I really find it doesn’t help that I think the current Minister for Employment has a really annoying voice and looks like such a smarmy git).

Despite this, the jobless rate is at a 12 year high (edit: after six years the newspaper has archived this article), and economists are expecting the situation to worsen, particularly as new job seekers continue to enter the market. But it does bring up the question, yet again, of how to stay sane and positive when you are unemployed and the first question almost everyone asks is, “So, what do you do?”  What do you do when month on month there are less and less jobs, and more and more people are looking for them? I’m sort of glad that I decided to write an eBook to keep my spirits up. Jelle Hermus (see note below) offers six tips for moving towards a more positive future.  He argues:


  1. You’re not the sum of what you do: we are all people with professions, but we do other stuff besides work.  Now you can focus on that other stuff.
  2. Being without a job doesn’t mean being without work: work is just doing stuff, and you don’t always get paid for doing stuff.  Do stuff that makes you feel useful and valuable.
  3. Keep growing: use your “spare” time to develop yourself.  Learn something new, start a business, make your own happiness.
  4. You haven’t tried everything: keep looking, listening and talking.  There are opportunities you haven’t seen yet.
  5. Work towards more freedom: It’s the income to meet your needs that is important, not the job.  Lower your expenses, look for new income streams and rejoice that right now you have the freedom to do what you want to do.
  6. Don’t get depressed: use this period to reassess your priorities and move towards happiness.

I think that’s a pretty good start, and his list includes a number of items I came up with as well.  But I’m adding some less consequential things as well:

  1. Get out of bed, get showered and get moving: my depressive tendency is to sleep in my own filth.  Cleaning my body, putting on clean clothes and getting out in the sunshine does a great deal for how I feel about myself.  It doesn’t change anything, except my attitude and ability to manage unemployment with positivity.
  2. Don’t sacrifice your fragrance, skin or hair care: you are used to a certain range of products.  You know how they smell and understand how they feel.  When you try to economise on beauty, the products don’t smell or feel right and they don’t produce the effects you are accustomed to.  You will buy cheap product after cheap product and end up buying and discarding more, and wasting more money than if you just bought the products you are used to.  You will start to feel as though you just don’t deserve to have “good” beauty products, and this will decrease your confidence and on it goes, spiralling deeper into depression.  Do buy cheerful lipsticks.
  3. See people:  Don’t hide yourself away in a futile effort to save money.  Being with people is very important for maintaining social skills, in particular the ability to deal with people.  You’ll need those skills when you start working again – partly the ability to play well with others and achieve outcomes, partly not losing your dignity and discretion in the excitement of being with people again.  You don’t have to make appointments to meet people, (though I always look forward to catching up with Katy).  Just find ways to interact with other humans – use the attended supermarket check out, survey marketers who call the house, chat with the neighbours, go to the hardware store and learn something at the free DIY classes.
  4. Don’t save your work clothes for best: you don’t want them to become your version of princess clothing.  When you get paid work you are going to be excited and want to buy some new things anyway.  If you slouch around in clothes that expand with you, you may find that your work clothes don’t fit when you need them for work…
  5. Use this time to reconnect with your loved ones: it’s too easy to grow apart.  Rediscover why you wanted to be with them in the first place, and help them rediscover that too.

So that’s my unemployment manifesto for this month.  Is there anything else that you think should be on the list?

NOTE: Unfortunately Jelle’s website isn’t accessible anymore.

12th February 2015

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