Unemployment figures continue to rise. The word 'layoff' has become a boogeyman, a spectre waiting just outside our door to snatch away all we hold dear. Every time the next round of layoffs is announced, each of us imagines ourselves in that position.

You know how it goes. The boss calls you in, hands you the slip of doom, and tells you he had to get rid of someone. "Fine," you sniff with cardboard box in hand. "I never liked this place anyway."

But then comes the really hard part. After you've loaded up your things, said goodbye to the vending machines, and been escorted down to the curb, you realize you're gonna have to tell someone about your forced explusion. If you're married, your spouse's face appears in your mind. You will have to tell them you failed. When times got tough, you couldn't make the cut. Why, the shame is almost more than you can bear.

I've been there before and it sucks. But there are some things you can do to manage the heartache of getting the boot. Try these five exercises and watch your laid-off stress fly away:

1. Kick the Cat/Dog/Hamster – Ah, nothing like a little physical action to loosen up the old nerves. And that cat has had it coming for months, using your pool table as a scratching post. So get a running start. Kick with all your might. It's up. It's GOOD. Now doesn't that feel swell?

2. Take a Day Off – That's right. You didn't get laid off. You took a vacation. A well-deserved vacation, now that you mention it. When all those non-laid-off shlubs are working their tails off in cubicle-land, you can do whatever you want. "Sucks to be you!" you can cackle as you drive away.

3. Watch an Inspirational Movie – Crying is good for unclogging the emotional plumbing. Try watching a movie about a born loser who gets kicked around but then hits the big time. Think Rocky, Rudy, or The Pursuit of Happyness. Picture yourself in the lead role. Shake your fist at the man. Shed tears. Finish carton of bon bons. Repeat several times.

4. Work Out – Give stress and self-pity the boot with a hearty workout. Swim ten miles. Scale a mountain. Anything to bring back that sense of accomplishment. You will be flying so high on endorphins that you may forget you have no money.

5. Get a Hug – Nothing chases away the bluebirds like a good embrace. Maybe it's your spouse, your kids, your mom, or your cousin Larry. Sometimes you just need someone to put their arms around you and tell you it's going to be okay. That's right. Let it all out.

Seriously, a layoff is just the beginning of a new chapter in your life, probably a good one. So tackle it with a little self-pity, a dash of avoidance, and then go back out to take on the world.

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