On-the-job stress is bad enough. But when that job is taken from you, things can get a lot worse in a hurry — if you let them.

On Wednesday, October 5, NJ Unemployed will host “Stress & Unemployment,” a free workshop by Randi Protter, medical director for Capital Health’s Center for Women’s Health. The program runs from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Capital Health’s location at 1445 Whitehorse-Mercerville Road in Hamilton. Visit www.njunemployed.com.

NJ Unemployed’s founder, Katie DeVito, says the event is designed to offer ways for the unemployed, underemployed, or those simply unhappy in their current jobs to re-direct their stress. DeVito, who frequently puts together events for unemployed people, has felt the effects of joblessness first-hand in 2009 she was laid-off from her job as communications manager at a nonprofit agency — a job she had just started 90 days before. She took the option of starting her own business, Katie DeVito LLC, to do public relations and provide direction on social media for businesses.

But through NJ Unemployed she has also seen the effects losing a job can have on people. Some get so down on themselves, she says, that they stop coming to events, or worse — keep coming, but look progressivley more unkempt.

“People come to the events, but they stop dressing up,” she says. “Our events are casual, but if you show up with shirts that are stained, that’s bad.” One of the things she recommends to anyone unemployed is to always be prepared to run into an opportunity. “Even if you’re just going to WaWa for your coffee,” she says, “you never know who you’re going to run into.” Try to avoid looking sloppy outside the house.

DeVito, who once was featured in Parade magazine, worked with a career advisor after her layoff. She learned then — and has found it remains true — that the group that has the hardest time adjusting to sudden unemployment is single women over 40. They spent so much time focusing on career, Devito says, that they never married nor had children and, therefore, find themselves with no family unit.

DeVito says Protter will discuss ways people can keep themselves busy and productive. Even if it’s just starting a hobby, she says, people need something to give them a sense of purpose. And if you keep doing something, you will have less time to wallow in self-doubt, depression, and stress. Protter, she says, will discuss ways of lessening stress that do not involve therapy or medication.

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