If you do a quick Google search, you will see a plethora of listings under “top stressful life events.” There is even a test to figure out your “stress score!”
Let’s look at the career-related items on the “Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale:
- #8: Fired at Work. 47 points.
- #10: Retirement. 45 points.
- #15: Business Readjustment. 39 points.
- #16: Change in Financial State. 38 points.
- #19: Change to a Different Line of Work. 36 points.
- #22: Change in Responsibilities at Work. 29 points.
- #25: Outstanding Personal Achievement. 28 points.
- #26: Spouse Begins or Stops Work. 26 points.
- #30: Trouble With Boss. 23 points.
- #31: Change in Work Hours and Conditions. 20 points.
- #32: Change in Residence. 20 points.
So, even if you view some of these as a positive, they are still stressful!
I will confess that I am better at giving advice about dealing with stress than actually implementing it myself; but here are a few of my very own tips for dealing with stress during a job search:
1. Get more sleep. And it is very important that this is done a regular hours! Don’t let yourself stay up all night to watch TV, just because you don’t have to go in to work the next day. Go to bed at a regular time, and get your full eight hours of sleep a day. And if you deal with insomnia once in a while, take the afternoon nap if you have to. Living in a sleep deficit is not good for your health, or your mental outlook.
2. Turn off the TV. I have personally found that if I get into my “suspenseful drama” favorites on TV, that I become to wound up to ever sleep, or have crazy dreams if I do. (Any Fringe fans out there?) So, I had to do a TV strike for a few months. I found that after that time, I was less interested in sitting in front of the TV, and only really “needed” to keep up with just a minimum number of shows. So I would DVR those and watch them during lunch – when the adrenaline rush of
“What Happens Next?” could propel me through the afternoon slump instead of keeping me awake all night!
3. Cut back on external “audio” stimulation. Reading an article recently on auditory vs. visual processors, I realized that my crazy need to turn the radio off while trying to deal with work is normal for me! Look for what outside stimulation might be just too much for you, and limit it. I found that if I expect myself to actually concentrate on certain focused activities that I need to have the music off. Apparently my brain can’t concentrate on the lyrics and on what I’m trying to write at the same time. So, for you it might be turning down the music or noise. For others it might be having less visual distractions such as artwork, posters, bright colored wall organizers, etc. Perhaps flipping your desk so that it faces a blank wall would help.
4. Spend time in the fresh air. Getting back to “natural” nature, and not just manicured parks has been vital for me. Plus, I love the chance to take a walk near the water which reminds me of the area where I grew up. Nothing calms my mind than a few minutes of peace and a pier on the ocean.
5. Move. I could cite you all sorts of studies about how exercise releases endorphins. But let’s just say that moving makes you feel good, and feeling good releases stress. Plus, the achievement of making a physical goal (running that extra mile, finally getting that one yoga pose) adds confidence. And confidence is HUGE during a job search. Take it wherever you can find it!
6. Eat better than you usually would. I’m a stress eater, but nothing makes me feel worse than when I eat what I want because “it makes me feel better and I deserve it.” Stress takes a major toll on your entire body, and your system needs proper nourishment in order to release those stress toxins out of your system! Job search time is no time to relax on your diet or take a break from eating healthily. In fact, I would suggest being stricter with yourself that you normally would. Knowing you are walking into an interview with an extra ten pounds of “unemployment weight” will do nothing for your self-confidence. So fight the temptation to indulge in comfort foods as much as you can.
7. Get out of the house! Just the act of putting on “real clothes” and walking out the door can improve your spirits! Get out your calendar and look for networking events, support groups, and volunteer opportunities to get you out of the house, and interacting with other human beings. We are social creatures and draw strength from each other. Tap into the support group you have – don’t settle for an email or text. Meet for a walk at a park, or for a cup of (decaf, nonfat!) coffee. Plus, networking and volunteer work are concrete actions you can take to help you in your job search.
8. Prayer/Meditation. Okay, I’m a big proponent of this, but I’ve also found that it works. After taking a bit of time for quiet and reflection, I usually feel more calm, focused and ready to tackle the tasks ahead.
9. Check Your Self Talk. How are you talking to yourself? Do you have that inner voice that is running a constant Negative Nelly in your head? Whatever you tell yourself, you will begin to believe. So fill your head and the space around you with positive, uplifting messages!
10. Do Something About It. Sometimes there feels like such a lack of control during a job search. And that lack of control can be stressful! I have found it helpful to make a list, one side is of things you can’t control, and the other is of things you can. And then I try to focus my energies on the things I can do something about. What do you have control over in your job search? Your resume, your networking, your online social networking presence, your elevator speech, your interviewing skills and your job search strategy. Focusing on what you can do verses what you can’t will allow you to stay on track and will ultimately help your job search!
So, there you have it. My top ten ways to deal with the stress of a job search!