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When you meet someone for the first time, you'll usually get the question, "So what do you do?" within the first 30 seconds. If you're unemployed, it's no fun to answer that question. In fact, being unemployed is one of the most stressful experiences in life. Think of the tips below as a literary massage.

Tips for Sanity

No Judge Judy. If you find yourself watching daytime television by yourself day after day, you'll go crazy. Get out of your house and do something. Anything.

Remember that you're not what you do (unless you're an anteater). Your ego may take a bruising by getting laid off, but you should look at yourself in the mirror and every so often and say, "Wow, you're really good looking. Would you like pancakes?" Of course you would.

If you're laid off, contact your state unemployment insurance agency immediately (see The faster you contact them, the faster you'll get unemployment money.

If you're eligible, you can generally receive unemployment benefits for 13 weeks (or longer with an extension), but this varies by state and current unemployment rates.

What do you want to do when you grow up? Changing jobs is a great opportunity to... change jobs. You may get an idea for a new career by freelancing, volunteering, or even browsing through specialty books in a bookstore. Search your almighty soul for that career that you'd actually like to get up for in the morning.

Plan on being unemployed for a while (but let's hope not). Cut expenses. Seek out free events and free stuff around town (but never, ever in dumpsters).

Bones break more easily without health insurance. It's a fact. So if your insurance was with your old employer, consider short-term health insurance (see our topic) or getting an individual health insurance policy.

Stay proactive. Interview, interview, interview and keep your resume current. And if all else fails, be nice to people. Someone might be nice back.

Use your resources. Schedule lunches with friends; utilize the career resources from your alma mater; use online social networks for leads; or contact a job agency (877-US2JOBS). Good jobs usually don't come from craigslist.

Story Time

After being laid off from a job in the soap factory, Bert holed up in his apartment, wallowing in self-pity and body odor. Two weeks later, he finally got some fresh air when his friend invited him over. "Have you been looking around for jobs?" his friend asked.

"Well, with all of the craziness going on with Rhonda, I've hardly had time to do anything," Bert replied.


"Yeah," Bert explained. "Didn't you hear? Her long-lost evil twin came to town, kidnapped her baby, married her fiancee Chance, and framed her for murdering the priest who exorcised her demon last week, but when Chance traveled back in time and became his own grandfather, he realized that the priest was alive!"

Bert paused and sighed. "I need to cancel my cable."