According to the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, unemployment is one of the top 10 stressful life events. Hunting for a new job can be a rollercoaster ride; high points when you find jobs that call you for an interview and lows when you go weeks without hearing from an employer. The average job search is just over 6 weeks, but depending on your industry or goals, that could be much longer. Avoiding stress and staying positive can be tough when you’re slogging through it all, so here’s some tips to get you through the process.
1 – Meditate on it
The benefits of mindfulness when it comes to stress are profound, and the benefits are physiological as well as mental.
Looking for a job can be an anxiety-inducing activity for many people, and meditation has been shown to be extremely effective in reducing anxiety. Mindfulness meditation helps people separate unhelpful, worry-filled thoughts from helpful, problem-solving ones. It’s normal to feel the stress of the job hunt, but you want your mental energies to be as action-oriented as possible. When you find yourself in a spiral of negative and stressful thoughts, it’s a good time to take a short break and do a bit of meditation.
There are great apps out there if you’re new to meditation, such as Headspace. You get 10 10-minute guided meditations for free when you download the app.
2 – Make a plan
It’s often said that when you don’t have a job, finding a job is your job. You’ve got the time to put the effort in, so it’s best to make use of it. This doesn’t mean you should put in 8 hours a day of job hunting and applying. You’ll be far more likely to burn out and get discouraged.
Instead, you should make yourself a plan, and stick to it. You’re the boss here, so it’s time to set some KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). You can decide for yourself what a solid day of work looks like, but you want to make sure you have a way of measuring your output. You might ask yourself:
• How many resumes and cover letters will you prepare each day or week?
• How many jobs will you apply to each week?
• How many hours of research is suitable each day?
Pro Tip: Make sure you are tailoring your resumes and cover letters for each job you apply for.
Also, don’t just restrict yourself to the application part of the job hunt; part of your plan should also include acquiring new knowledge and skills, while you have a little more time on your hands. You might measure this by:
• How many chapters or pages of a skills upgrading book will you read?
• How many online training videos will you watch? Or how many hours?
The overarching point is, setting numbers around what you’ll achieve in your job hunt will help you stay focused and ensure you make progress.
The other part of having a plan and being disciplined enough to stick to it is that it means you can give yourself a break on the weekends. Saturdays and Sundays can be the most stressful days when you don’t have a job because you have to wait until Monday for things to start rolling again. But if you’ve been putting in the work like it’s your job, then you’re also justified in having a break, so pour yourself some Perrier and enjoy the weekend.
3 – Clean up your space
Have you ever heard the saying that a clean space equals a clean mind? The idea is that a messy space can distract your focus, while an organized one can be calming and help direct your focus. Moreover, just the act of cleaning can help ease stress, and it offers a break from the challenges of the job hunt that is much more productive than Facebook.
4 – Organize your hunt
Similar to cleaning up your working space, having an organized approach to your job hunt will help you stay calm, especially when you’re trying to keep track of applications and follow-ups. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of which jobs you’ve applied for and when you’ve followed up. If you’re not sure how to make one, you can make a copy of this Google Spreadsheet for free.
So often we get in the full swing of things and general busy-ness prevents us from taking steps to improve ourselves. It’s like what can happen to entrepreneurs who spend all their time working in the business, and not enough time working on the business. The best time to think out and implement routine is now.
5 – Make a move
A change of environment when you do your applications or research can help your productivity and reduce your stress levels. If you have a laptop or tablet, head to a coffee shop or library and put some work in there. Be sure to monitor how you feel and how productive you are, as some people work well in noisy environments, while others need the quiet of a library to stay focused.
6 – Exercise
If meditation isn’t your cup of tea, you can gain some of the same mental benefits (and other physical ones) from taking a break to do some exercise. Whether it’s a run, a walk, a gym session, yoga, whatever; it’s about taking a break to move the body and free the mind. If it seems like an intimidating idea to begin, start small and work to develop it as a habit. Consistency is far more important than intensity for reaping the mental benefits.
7 – Take time to enjoy your unemployment
This is a tough one to say to anyone who’s deep in the struggle, but I’ve been there too, and one of the thoughts I always have afterward is that I wish I could have stressed a bit less and enjoyed the freedom a lot more.
I promise you, a few months into your new job, you’re going to think back on your unemployment and wish you had enjoyed the journey a bit more. It’s easy to let the pressure and negative thoughts take over when you’re in the midst of the struggle, but try and step back from it all and view it in the grand scheme of your life.
If you’re putting the work in, it’s going to work out.
Be patient and don’t freak out. You got this!
What are your tips for dealing with stress in the job hunt? Share yours in the comments!
Photo is from bigstockphoto.com
Guest Author Bio
Lauren McAdams is a career adviser and hiring manager at ResumeCompanion.com. She’s been quoted by sites like Forbes, TechRepublic, and Careerbuilder.com. When she’s not busy helping job seekers, she’s sipping on coffee or a glass of wine – depending on the time of day of course.
Blog / Website: ResumeCompanion.com