When something tragic or terrifying happens in the world, it draws our attention.
And sometimes it’s hard to stop looking.
And looking can turn into worrying
And worrying can get consuming
And this isn’t great when you’re looking for a job.
That’s why I have some suggestions for ways to push through the anxiety and stress that can derail you from your mission:
Establish a Routine. Today, this is very difficult. There are many demands on our time, and 24-hour access to communication can lead to a 24-hour cycle of active worry. Anchor yourself with a schedule that includes research, networking, meal breaks, and breaks for exercise. Take a walk. Relax at night with a book.
Shut Down the News Feed. Sure, it’s important to stay informed. But constant exposure to violence, negativity, tragedy, and grief is mentally draining. If you must, set specific times to check the news, then turn to other things. (And as a former news reporter, I suggest choosing reputable news sources that provide balanced perspectives).
Unplug. Get entirely away from your work and/or your job search. Go to a park. Engage in a hobby (I love to make collages). Take a bubble bath.
Keep Your Support Network Close. It’s tempting to isolate yourself while feeling anxious. But lots of longitudinal research shows us that other people are essential to our mental health. Our friends, family, or peers can provide emotional support. They might also offer a different perspective or even job leads.
Seek Professional Help. Consider talking to a counselor or therapist if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed. They can provide coping strategies and emotional support.
Focus on What You Can Control. This is challenging. We are surrounded by noise all the time, and the repetition and force of these negative messages can create an illusion of chaos. Some of those messages tell you that the economy is bad; that employers are not hiring; and that you are too old to get a job. Sure, not everything’s within your control, but finding a way to silence the voices around you will help you focus on the elements of your job search you can influence, such as tailoring your resume or building skills. (And remember, bad news always sells better. There is a lot of good in the world, too.)
Stay Active: This one’s huge. Physical activity is a proven mood booster and regular exercise can help manage stress, improve sleep, and transform your mindset.
Set Boundaries: If certain discussions or topics trigger stress or anxiety, politely steer conversations away from distressing subjects or excuse yourself if needed.
Celebrate Small Wins.
Everything you do during your job search journey is a step forward, whether it’s a successful networking connection, an interview, or positive feedback. Take a few moments every day to acknowledge that you got something done. Then reward yourself with a walk, a bath, or a hot chocolate. While you are taking a break, practice gratitude for every small joy that has come your way.
These suggestions are not new, and they may not be surprising. But once in a while, knowing they are available can help you feel more calm and centered, and help you navigate the job hunt with resilience and optimism.