Dealing with unemployment and limited finances during the holidays can be stressful for many. Below, I’ve made a list of 10 ideas for coping that can help you and your families during this challenging time in your life.
1. Update Resume. You can use this time to update your resume, filling it details of the jobs and skills you have to offer employers.
2. Seasonal Jobs. The holidays are a great time to apply for seasonal jobs. A lot of companies are looking to hire people for the busy holiday season.
3. Quality time. The best thing about the holidays is spending quality family time together. The kids are out of school and time seems to slow down a bit for many. Focus your energy on being present with your family, instead of focusing on presents. Quality time can look like playing games, movie night at home, cooking or even relaxing together. Give your family members the gift of time.
4. Monitor your “should” statements. “I should be doing more;” “I should be buying more;” “I should make everyone happy.” When we “should” on ourselves and others, we place a lot of importance on unfair expectations. Practicing acceptance of reality exactly how it is in the present moment, can help you come up with a plan for feeling better about the situation, or “letting go” of the unfair ideas you have about yourself. If you notice you’re having a lot of these should statements, talk to your therapist or someone you trust about coming up with more balanced statements.
5. Compassion for yourself and others. Compassion will save the day, every day you’re feeling not good enough, challenging emotions, or even with difficult memories. Compassion sounds like, “You’re doing the best you can in this moment;” “It’s a rough time for us right now;” “Asking for help is uncomfortable and it’s also necessary;” “I can say no and still be a good person;” “I can honor my family by modeling self-care and quality time.”
6. Gratitude. Making a list of the things you appreciate and are grateful for can really impact our mood positively. The more you give thanks for even the smallest of things, like a warm blanket, kindness you give or receive, or the ability to breathe can help us feel connected and uplifted. Teaching children to express gratitude can also help them in bouncing back from a stressful life event. Studies have shown that the more we turn our brains to focus on the positive, the more opportunities for the “feel-good” hormones are elicited.
7. Your Talents. Think about how you can use your strengths and talents to make gifts, appeal to employers, put down on your gratitude list, and even make extra money on.
8. Adjust budgets. Budgeting is a great life skill on its own. It’s extremely important during the holidays too. Prioritizing basic needs like food, shelter, transportation are at the top of the list since it’s crucial for safety and existence. Knowing what you have to work with can help you come up with a plan for your spending.
9. Accept help from others. This is another one of those important life skills on its own. It’s crucial that we ask for help when we need it and accepting help from others when offered. This can look like signing up for an Adopt-a-family program, attending community events where they gift toys and food to families, spending the holidays with other families. Sometimes we are our own barriers to receiving help.
10. Relax and Recharge. Although being unemployed is a clear stressor, take some time to relax and recharge. Before you know it, you’ll be starting a new job and dealing with the hustle and bustle of dropping/picking kids up from school. Find no-cost ways of enjoying the city you live in, find as many opportunities to laugh, or engage your 5 senses (smell, touch, taste, hear, see) in the present moment to help you decompress.
All in all, know that you taking in moment by moment, day by day will help you tolerate any challenging emotions during the holidays (and even post holidays). Be easy on yourself and seek support from friends, family, religious institution or social services.
Please note that this post is strictly for ideas and does not replace medical and professional help. I strongly encourage that you engage in therapy or speak with their medical professional about any of these ideas. If you find yourself in a medical emergency where you or a loved one is a danger to themselves or others, you are strongly urged to call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room. The National Suicide Hotline number is: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In Los Angeles County, you can also call the Department of Mental Health’s Psychiatric Mobile Response Team – Access Hotline at 1-800-854-7771.