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5 Ways to make the most of your layoff

Kristin Julie Viola is an L.A. based freelance writer, who has covered everything from the spiciest ramen to the hottest CW stars. When she is not at her computer, she can be found hiking with her golden retriever or savoring a glass of ...

Laid-back layoff

There's no getting around it: Layoffs are never easy, and they're never fun. Unemployment can leave you scrambling to pay the bills, and it can make you feel as if you have stepped on an endless emotional roller coaster.

Woman going for an early morning walk

In fact, a recent survey at Rutgers University found that the overwhelming majority of unemployed Americans experience feelings of anxiety and depression. After all, there are only so many times you can check Craigslist for new jobs or catch up on Friends re-runs before your mind becomes plagued with worries.

Here are some tips to help you get through these tough times and keep your spirits afloat:

1. Take care of yourself

Step away from the computer screen. Take a break from your inbox, and make some time for your physical and emotional needs. Use this period of unemployment to build better health habits, suggests career and business consultant Kathy Robinson.

Simple changes in your everyday life, such as adding in an extra hour of sleep or going for a 20-minute walk, can have a major impact on your mood and energy levels. 'Since the financial and emotional concerns of unemployment can cause high stress, any health-related initiatives can help offset the daily stress of a job search,' says Robinson.

2. Pursue your passion

If you've been dreaming about picking up those piano lessons again or penning your own screenplay, there's no time like the present. No matter how out-there you may think your ideas are, allow yourself the opportunity to explore the interests that may have gone untapped in your previous position.

'It's important to keep your mind active, busy and engaged in things you enjoy,' says Susan Wilson Solovic, author of The Girls' Guide to Building a Million Dollar Business. And who knows? You might just come across a new career field, or, at the very least, a fulfilling new hobby.

3. Give back to your community

Talk about putting things in perspective: Volunteering can help you take your focus off of your own misfortunes and appreciate all of the good things in your life.

Dedicating a few hours a week to a local nonprofit will not only give you a meaningful sense of purpose, but it will also enable you to expand your network and develop a new set of skills. According to Cheryl Palmer, a certified executive career coach, volunteering enables potential employers to observe your work ethic in action.

4. Make yourself marketable

Unfortunately, in today's bear market, having a college degree doesn't guarantee a good job. As the competition for jobs is fiercer than ever, jobseekers need to work harder than ever to make themselves more desirable to potential employers.

Thus, it's a good idea to take a hard look at what sets you apart from others in your field and where you may be lacking. 'If you find that you are not as marketable as you would like to be, this period of joblessness can be put to good use to sharpen your skills to that you are attractive to a potential employer,' Palmer says.

Once you have identified the areas that could use some improvement, take action to strengthen them. For example, if you are clueless when it comes to using computers, consider taking a course at a community college. Or if you freeze every time you go in for an interview, look into joining your local Toastmasters club.

5. Invest in your friendships

You may tell yourself that you can't afford to go out with friends. OK, so a four-course dinner may not make financial sense -- but that doesn't mean you can't make time for the girls. Invite them over for a potluck or to play board games.

Investing in the relationships you have will make your situation seem a whole lot easier. After all, there's no better medicine than the company of close friends. 'Spending time with people who care about you is important to help you build your confidence,' Solovic says.

So kick back with your buddies, have a good laugh and hang loose for an evening. You deserve it.

More career advice on SheKnows

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