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Laughter relieves stress when economic pressures mount

CEO Lays Off 5,000 Workers To Impress Girlfriend

Disney Puts On Magical Parade Of Layoffs

Area Woman Wouldn't Mind Feeding Your Cats

Struggling Americans Forced To Work Extra Dimensional 4th Shift

Memo to The Onion, the online humor magazine that created the above headlines: Those jokes about losing our jobs? Keep them coming. Please!

The real news is numbingly bad and almost impossible to escape. Nearly 2.6 million Americans lost their jobs last year, according to the Labor Department, and most analysts say this year won't be much better. Just last Monday, 71,400 jobs were lost when Caterpillar, Pfizer and others announced massive layoffs.

If it's not Circuit City, Home Depot or Starbucks, it's someone else. And more cars stay parked in the driveway every day.

After a point, what else can you do but laugh?

And that's good. Humor is one of the tools you can use to lessen the stress of losing your job and not knowing what will happen next, says Dr. Harold Shinitzky, president of the Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Psychological Association.

Losing your job, Shinitzky says, is like losing a loved one. Most people go through the same five stages of grief:

denial

anger

bargaining

depression

acceptance

"Having a laugh, enjoying the moment in a relaxing nature, doing a physical activity and not isolating yourself . . . they all help,'' Shinitzky said. "We have to be able to handle the stress or it can lead to destructive behavior, like alcohol or substance abuse, or domestic violence.''

Neighbors of a Los Angeles man who murdered his wife and five children before killing himself recently claim that the incident was at least partly brought on by the man and his wife losing their jobs as medical technicians.

Like letting air out of an over-inflated balloon, adding a little levity to an otherwise dismal situation can be appealing. Especially now. More than 11 million American workers, about 1 in 14, are unemployed and actively looking for new jobs, according to the Labor Department.

Which brings us to CafePress. The California company (www.cafepress.com) sells political and pop culture-related T-shirts, bumper stickers, hats and coffee mugs, designed by the more than 6.5 million people who use the Web site. If the merchandise sells, the designer keeps part of the profits.

CafePress users sold more than $100 million in goods in 2007, pocketing about $20 million in profits.

And right now, unemployment merchandise is moving up the sales chart.

"It is a barometer of public sentiment,'' said Marc Cowlin, a CafePress spokesman. "We're seeing more and more companies announcing layoffs, and people are responding to that.

"And humor has always been a very important part of what we sell.''

That means, Cowlin said, people who lost their jobs have a chance to make a little extra money selling shirts and bumper stickers about . . . losing their jobs.

"Yes,'' he said, "that is a bit ironic.''

Working | Humor

Laughter relieves stress when economic pressures mount 02/07/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 7, 2009 3:30am]

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