How to Survive the Holidays When You're Unemployed

The holidays can be a joyous time of year for many – a time to relax, unwind, and spend time with loved ones. People look forward to it all year long. When dealing with unemployment, however, this time of year can be extremely stressful, both personally and professionally.

Unemployment can equate to shortages in both budgets and happiness. It is a time of uncertainty, fear, and guilt – and getting into the holiday spirit can be nothing short of impossible.

How do you make it through the holiday season when the mood is anything but festive? Here are some tips for finding balance and gaining joy during this difficult time.

Spend Quality Time with Family and Friends

Utilize this time to slow down and appreciate the people around you. Once you find a job, you may not have the ability to have an impromptu cup of coffee or tea with an elderly family member, or meet your son or daughter at school for lunch. Use the down time to enjoy the company of the people that are close to you. Don’t use this as an opportunity to complain about your circumstances, or vent your frustrations. Make a conscious effort to be in the moment with whomever you choose to spend time with.

Develop a Budget, and Stick to It

Regardless of how long you have been unemployed, now is the time to create a budget! It is difficult to determine whether your job search will last 3 days or 6 months, so conserving money would be a wise decision. You do not have to forgo any and all presents, but giving extravagant gifts is probably not practical right now. Explain the situation to your family in advance, in order to establish expectations. If you have small children, look for less expensive options of popular toys. They will enjoy them just as much – and your wallet with thank you for it!

Don’t Compare Your Situation to Others

We live in a very competitive society, where we can feel jealous, angry, and worthless with one click of the mouse. Don’t get caught up in the “keeping up with the Jones’s” mentality, and compare yourself with others. Evaluate your own situation, and make the most of what you have right now. If scanning through social media makes you feel anything but happy, take a hiatus for the time being. You need to channel your energy into making the most of your skills and your time. Do not subject yourself to situations where you may feel guilty and ashamed.

The job search is a roller coaster of emotions, so position yourself to be in the best situations and state of mind!

Stay Positive

A poor attitude is the biggest obstacle to success! Make an effort to remain positive each day. Use your favorite hobbies as an outlet to re-energize and recharge, so that you can remain positive. If you have not been a proponent of self-improvement, choose a method that makes you feel better, such as reading daily affirmations, meditation, yoga, or other forms of exercise. The goal is to choose something that brings energy back into your life.

When you face obstacles or setbacks in the job search (and you will), practice one of these methods, and see the positive side of it. Even if you don’t immediately believe it, changing your outlook will change your life.



Get Organized

If you have not been attacking your job search with stealth-like strategy, now is the time to develop a plan! Do your research on companies you have interest in (or discover new companies in your target cities).

Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date.

Create a spreadsheet and track every job you apply to, as well as the date you applied. Create a networking plan, and track everyone you speak with, the topics you discussed, and what you can do to reciprocate. Set a daily schedule for applications, networking meetings, and follow up emails, and adhere to it.

Use the slow time of year to reach out to former co-workers, supervisors, (or even professors). Ask for recommendations and introductions. Approaching your job search like a job will require less time and effort when you are organized!

Give Back

Has a person or group helped you significantly during this difficult time? Is there a cause that you feel passionate about? Utilize this time to give back to others. This doesn’t mean spending all of your time volunteering, but give back where you can. This could be as simple as helping another colleague practice interviewing at your job seeker group. Or, it can be helping at a food bank or homeless shelter. The possibilities are endless, but giving back provides satisfaction – and often helps with your own life and problems into perspective!


The holidays can be a difficult time, especially if you are unemployed. The job search process is frustrating, money is tight, and the prosperity of those around you becomes increasingly evident. Take the time to care for yourself, give back to others, and spend time with those you love. Maintaining a positive attitude and remembering all of the blessings you have to be thankful for will help you get through this trying time – and hopefully end up in a better situation than you were previously in!

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