It’s 1:00 a.m. on a weeknight. An ominous cursor blinks mercilessly on your computer screen, as you rack your brain for the perfect action verbs to add to your resume. You’ve been staring at this online job application for hours now; there’s nothing more you can do. After finally clicking “send,” you find yourself laying awake and wide-eyed on your pillow, head pounding, running through every possible consequence of this action.
Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone.
The Mayo Clinic lists major life transitions, such as the job search, as a main external factor that causes stress in individuals. High levels of stress can take a tremendous toll on your body. can include headaches, an upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, and disrupted sleep.
During the job search, is especially important to remember to take time out for yourself to relax and rejuvenate. Maintaining a physically and psychologically healthy lifestyle should be a top priority. Poor self-care in these areas can affect many other aspects in your life, including relationships and productivity.
Here are some tips for managing stress during the job search:
1) Work on your passion projects : Spend time blogging, dabbling in photography, drawing, designing, cooking etc; do whatever it is that lets you best express yourself creatively. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of your interests. Monica Lo, Senior Art Director at kbs+ and Megan Nuttall spoke at November’s Find and Follow Your Passion conference about how passion projects are a key ingredient in creating “career gold.”
2) Create and maintain a schedule for yourself (but don’t be too strict): Routine can be a source of comfort. Each night, write down a rough estimate of how much time you want to spend job-hunting the following day, scheduling in breaks and personal time. Allow plenty of “cushion time” for deadlines so you don’t feel pressured to rush or put relaxation time on the back burner. Stick to this schedule as best you can, but don’t be afraid to be spontaneous.
3) Physical activity: Commit to a regular exercise routine. If joining a gym doesn’t fit into your budget at the moment, try working out at home with free yoga or pilates videos. Other low-cost ideas include taking a walk/run around your neighborhood, or going for a bike ride. Exercise activates the release of endorphins (feel-good chemicals) in your brain and gives you a specific physical task to focus on–which will distract you from negative thoughts and sources of stress.
4) Eat well: Sometimes when we are feeling swamped, food falls to the wayside. But since food is our fuel, it’s important to always make time to eat a healthy snack or meal. Try snacks with energizing ingredients such as oats, bananas, almonds or yes, even chocolate. Drink plenty of water and don’t forget about your fruit and veggies. Try your best to kick start the day with a healthy, balanced breakfast.
5) Spend time with friends: A conversation with a close friend can be a terrific pick-me-up. Many of your friends are probably dealing with similar situations and will be able to relate. But don’t feel you always talk about the job search; go out, laugh and have fun, enjoy each other’s company and build each other up.
6) Don’t be afraid to work a part-time job that may not be your ultimate career goal: Working part time as a bartender, babysitter, barista, or cashier and earning a bit of money can help relieve pressure while applying to full-time jobs. Keep in mind that you can learn from every single job you have and it’s also a great way to network with people in your community. Don’t be shy about telling clients/customers about your professional interests.
7) Enroll in a workshop or course about something you’re interested in learning more about. Exercise that brain. FindSpark offers interesting webinars and in-person workshops about the job search and more. However, you don’t have to take courses related to the job search or professionalism. How about enrolling in guitar lessons or the pottery class you’ve always wanted to take? As Tina Roth Eisenberg said at Find and Follow Your Passion, there will never be a better opportunity– “The best time is now.”
8) Set leisurely “me time” aside for yourself each day: Set aside a bit of time each day for leisure time to read, watch your favorite TV show, play a game, spend time outside—whatever else helps you feel relaxed and recharged. Before you can provide exemplary work for others, you have to take care of your own basic needs. That way, when it’s time to buckle down, you’ll be in the right frame of mind to do so.
9) Meet and learn from inspirational people: This is a great way to lift your spirits. Attend conferences and learn from successful professionals who were once in your shoes.
10) Take the pressure off yourself: Realize that you may be an excellent, well-prepared job candidate, but the job-search process takes time. There are several external factors that could be contributing to your current situation such as the economy, budget cuts etc. Control what aspects of the job search you can, but let go of what you can’t.
What do you do to relax and refocus in stressful times? Tell us about it in the comments section.