I work in tech so I have lived through dot bombs, experienced layoffs due to M&A or simple “reduction in force” due to the economy, and other changes that result in unemployment and I have learned that unemployment is not something to fear. Being unemployed, whether you saw it coming or not, is an opportunity, and it is your job to make it the best that it can be.

Having just lost your job and joined the ranks of the unemployed, what should you do?

Take Inventory
Make a To Do List. You’ll   have the normal obvious things like update your resume and apply to jobs, filing for unemployment benefits but there is more to making unemployment a time that is productive and valuable. You should not be applying for jobs 8 hours a day — that is a sure way to drive yourself crazy and it is not a good use of your time. Unemployment creates an opportunity with time. Think about all the things you have been meaning to do but put off doing because you didn’t have enough time. Your time is valuable and now that you have more of it, you need new ways to create value for yourself.

Work out a new budget
A budget is taking inventory — it can help you understand the difference between your needs and your wants, as well as prioritize your spending. You can feel less deprived when you choose not to make a purchase because you realize your other priorities. This is the time to make cuts, and a budget helps you to face reality. Consider different ways to generate cash — a garage sale, freelancing, or taking on odd jobs.

Studies show that exercise had its beneficial effect in specific areas of cognitive function that are rooted in the frontal and prefrontal regions of the brain. Physical activity also releases feel-good endorphins in your brain. Exercise will make you feel better and look better. If you’re not accustomed to regular exercise, start off with a short walk. Consider taking up a sport — you’ll be working your body and having a good time too.

Enjoy Your Hobby
Find something that interests you and allot a certain amount of time each day or week to enjoy it. It may be walking, hiking, painting, sewing, music, or gardening – anything that makes you happy! You’ll find that with your mind occupied by something pleasant, you will clear out some of your negative energy.

Take A Class
Explore something new or learn to speak a foreign language. It is important you leverage this time to stimulate your brain and keep it active. This is not the time to watch more TV.

Find a good book and absorb yourself in it. Reading helps to redirect your thoughts to a new world and a new point of view. Reading engages your higher mind. Consider your brain a muscle, and find opportunities to flex it. You can read a variety of things, like blogs, business publications, and research about the companies you are interested in.

Write, Talk, and Mingle
Sure, you need to work on your resume, but you also need to work on your network. You should be working on your website, blog, or at least journal. Write letters and emails, make phone calls, or attend parties that you would normally not have time for while you are working. You’ve probably neglected a few people that you can now take the time to reach out to. You also need to be practicing to interview — talking to people and talking about yourself.

Clean and Reorganize Your Environment
A cluttered, messy home is uncomfortable and discouraging. At first, you may find it difficult to motivate yourself to get cleaning. If so, call a close friend or family member to help you out. Your home should be your sanctuary, and a clean place to relax is just that!

Consider Volunteering
A volunteer job can give you a sense of purpose as well as remind you that there are others worse off. It will make you feel better about yourself.

You don’t need a job in order to learn and work on cool stuff. You need to get a good perspective, stay positive, be learning and growing.