Some advice, gleaned from the formerly unemployed:
1. Structure your time stringently at first. You can ease up later on, but it's best to gradually move into a less structured time frame. Make lists of activities every day and force yourself to do them. Read Alan Lakein's "How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life."
2. Marshal your social support system. Use every friend and family member that you can count on to give you a boost when your spirts are sagging. Experts agree that the strength of this system is the crucial factor in how well you cope with unemployment. In addition to moral support, these people should be tapped as information resources. Have they been through a similar experience and what did they learn that can help you?
3. Find your most effective and constructive escape routes. Use them when necessary or when tempted to use a negative escape, e.g., TV, overeating, drinking. Get more than your regular amount of exercise. If reading is an effective relaxation for you, decide what kind of books are most likely to lift your spirits, make you feel positive about yourself, and motivate you to act. Self-improvement books, while often positive, may encourage you to continue passive behavior.
4. Balance work and leisure. Restrict your work activities to a certain area of your home and a certain part of your day. Do the same with leisure. Make sure you schedule some of both.
5. Reward yourself. When you finish a task, call up an understanding friend and brag.
6. Do something for someone else. A tried-and-true cure for the blues that still works.
7. Recognize that ultimately no one cares quite so much about your happiness or your life as you do. Do everything you can to activate your own motivation, even though it may be dormant from years of inactivity in an organization.
For friends and family of the unemployed, Tom Jackson and Davidyne Mayleas, authors of "The Hidden Job Market," suggest that you:
Look on this time as an opportunity rather than a time of depression.
Take a practical interest in the person's job-finding and reward successes, no matter how small.
Try to interest the person in other activities besides job-hunting.