Job hunting is incredibly stressful. You may be without a line of income, working tirelessly, and facing a high degree of uncertainty all at the same time. The longer you spend looking for jobs, the more stressed you become as the pressure mounts. With 12.4 percent of the unemployed population suffering from a history of depression – more than double the rate of the general population – job search stress is nothing to take lightly.
The Effects of Stress
Stress isn't pleasant in itself, but it's the long-term effects of stress that you really need to watch out for:
Chronic stress can make it harder to sleep, and it can even lead to physiological problems like snoring. You may be unable to get a sufficient amount of sleep during the night, which can leave you feeling unrested in the morning and lead to more serious problems down the road.
Stress also makes you more vulnerable to illness and other physical health complications, and it may worsen symptoms of preexisting ailments or injuries. Similarly, stress is also a precursor to mental health conditions like depression, and again, it may worsen the symptoms of mental health problems you're already experiencing.
How to Reduce Stress
What can you do to reduce the stress of job hunting? These seven strategies are a good start:
1. Set and Achieve Measurable Goals
Most people job hunt with only one goal in mind: get a job. Accordingly, when they don't reach that goal, they feel demotivated. The longer it takes to find a job, the harder it gets.
Instead of setting one big goal, set lots of little goals and work on achieving them. Every time you reach a goal, you'll feel good, and you'll inch your way closer to your ultimate goal. For example, you might set a goal to meet 15 new people this week or submit two new applications today.
It's easy to get wrapped up in anxious thoughts about your future while you're job hunting. How will you pay your bills? What if nobody hires you? How long will it take? You can work on calming those thoughts and relaxing by practicing mindfulness meditation for at least 10 minutes a day.
3. Exercise Consistently
Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and maintain both your mental and physical health. The real trick to exercising while job hunting is sticking to a consistent schedule. Try to exercise every morning at the same time. The routine will help fill in the gap left by the loss of your job and motivate you to wake up early every day.
4. Rely on a Support System
You don't have to go through this alone. Being jobless can, at times, be embarrassing. Leaning on other people in times of stress, though, is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Contact your friends and family members regularly. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
5. Keep Dressing Up
While looking for a job, dress up as if you're dressing for the positions you're applying for. It only takes you a few extra minutes each morning, but it can be enormously beneficial to your mental well-being. It's also good to be dressed up when out and about. You never know when you might meet a potential professional contact!
6. Occupy Your Time
When you don't have a job, it's easy to lose track of time. Sitting around the house all day can make you extremely bored.
When you aren't actively looking for a job, find a way to occupy your time. That may mean tackling a DIY project in your house, starting a new hobby, or doing research to improve your knowledge and skills. Stay busy, and you'll experience far less stress.
7. Find a Way to Make Extra Money
While looking for a full-time job, you may also want to pick up a part-time job or side gig to make some extra cash. Even a small amount of income can help ease your stress over paying the bills.
Working a side job also has the added benefit of occupying your time and introducing you to new people who may know of better opportunities.
These strategies won't instantly make your job hunt enjoyable, nor will they annihilate your stress entirely. However, they can reduce the burden of stress on your life and improve your outlook. Use them together in whatever combination works best for you.