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Self-Care When Looking for Work

by
Matthew Williams

Finding a new job is a stressful experience. From the anxiety you feel perfecting your CV and waiting on responses, to the adrenaline you feel walking into an interview room, job hunting is taxing on our mental health.

For those just starting their career, the whole experience can feel overwhelming, causing considerable stress. Things aren't necessarily easier for those with an already-established career either. Looking for work can involve subjection to feelings of judgment, inadequacy, and even fear.

To help you maintain mental health while looking for ways to continue your career, we've put some top tips below.

Set achievable goals

It's important to not expect too much of yourself when looking for a job.  Set yourself achievable, mini-goals that you can hit reliably and stick with it. This way, you retain your motivation and are able to apply consistently over a longer period of time until success.

Aiming to apply for 10 jobs a day, for example, may work for a short while, but is ultimately unsustainable. Our expectations of ourselves can become unrealistic especially when social algorithms begin filling our feeds with "motivation."

Instead, set yourself a target that you can reliably and sustainably achieve. This may be something like spending 1 hour a day searching for roles and a weekly target of applying for 7 job openings.

Use your job-hunting time wisely

Job hunting involves a lot of downtime. After applying for roles, it can often be several weeks before you hear anything back. This can be a tough time, especially for those who suffer from low confidence.

Instead of convincing yourself that your application has been rejected, use some of your downtime to empower yourself instead. Taking time to improve your existing skills, learn new ones, and even rework your CV can mitigate negative thoughts and fight off feelings of helplessness.

After job interviews, too, be sure to follow things up with an email. Not only will it boost your chances in landing the job, but it can help alleviate some of the post-interview stress that commonly occurs.

Practice mindfulness and exercise

Meditation, mindfulness, and other forms of mental training are proven ways to deal with stress. With job hunting being a particularly stressful time, these ancient practices may just be the antidote to a racing mind, full of self-doubt.

Meditation involves taking time out of your day to actively do nothing. That is to say, by slowing your breathing, focusing your mind, and meditation for 15 minutes or more a day, you effectively take a break from the constant stream of thoughts and feelings that you may be feeling during this time in your life.

Conversely, mindfulness involves actively observing your thoughts and feelings as you go about your day. Instead of indulging these, you, instead, non-judgmentally observe them and treat yourself with compassion. Mindfulness teaches you how to notice such feelings of inadequacy, rejection, anxiety, and other mental phenomena without believing them.

There are many great resources online for learning more about mindfulness and meditation, with the two overlapping considerably. The NHS website is a great place to learn more.

Use support networks

We all need a little help sometimes, whether we like to admit it or not. When job hunting, we should not be afraid to lean on support networks to help better our chances as well as maintain our wellbeing.

If you're soon to graduate from university or still at college, be sure to use your campus' careers office if you need help with CV writing, finding appropriate roles, or just generally struggling with the whole process. Similarly, if you're out of work and having difficulty finding ways to continue your career, be sure to embrace organisations such as the UK Careers Fair, and the UK National Careers Service.

Unemployment is something almost everyone will experience at some point during their career, so don't keep things to yourself. Discussing things with friends and family, or even charities like Mind and The Samaritans can help clarify our thoughts and give perspective to a situation.

Conclusion

It is easy to underestimate how stressful job searching can be, for people at all stages of their career. Taking time to look after ourselves is important not only to our career prospects but also to our overall wellbeing.

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