How applying for jobs impacts your mental health – and how to manage job search stress
Ginger shares how the job application process can be stressful – and how to take care of your mental health while looking for a job.
Job hunting can be stressful, to put it mildly. Looking for
work is a full-time job of its own, fraught with the dangers of burnout,
imposter syndrome, and frustration. Believe me — when I was applying for every
job under the sun after my graduation, I certainly felt burnt out and
However, you can take steps to prepare yourself for the
experience and emerge with success. Here are five ways applying for jobs
impacts your mental health, as well as tips for managing job search stress.
Many mental health struggles stem from encountering
uncertainty. Big life transitions, such as looking for a new job, are very
likely to spark
an inner battle with uncertainty. When change touches your life, it’s
normal to have feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.
The first step to addressing these feelings is to pinpoint
them. Write down what you’re worried about and why you’re concerned. Next, make
a plan to address these concerns with manageable, achievable goals.
Job hunting will also reveal the hidden (or not so hidden)
pressures in your life. If you are usually hard on yourself, you’ll probably
feel a lot of pressure to find the perfect, high-paying job as quickly as
possible. That was me — I’m a perfectionist, and I felt incredibly discouraged
not only to be applying for low-paying jobs, but not to be hearing back about
positions I felt I was overqualified for.
Depending on your personality type, pressure may cause you
to shut down or forego opportunities because you feel overwhelmed. The truth is
that your job does not define who you are. Neither is your identity defined by
your ability to find or get a job. You are whole as a person, no matter what
your job is or isn’t.
Letting go of the need to achieve the perfect future can
release you to make the most of where you are. You can’t know what will happen
tomorrow – but you can choose what you’ll do today. Use your time to invest in
yourself, not to spiral with anxiety over the future.
If you focus entirely on the future rather than the present,
you may experience “far-sightedness” in your job hunt. This perspective makes
it easy to skip steps that are ultimately very valuable in the job hunting
Although you may feel a lot of pressure to find the right
job quickly, it’s essential to define “right” and “quickly” for yourself. What
does your dream job look like? What work will meet your personal, financial,
and lifestyle goals? Are those goals achievable, or do they need adjusting?
Creativity and thoughtfulness can’t thrive under stress, but
they’re essential to finding a job you’ll love. Take the time to ask yourself what
you’d like to do with your life. It’s never too late to change your career
High levels of anxiety or chemical imbalances in your body
can trigger a depressed state of mind during a job hunt. It’s important not to
shame yourself for negative thoughts and emotions – job hunting is hard and can
easily become discouraging.
However, perpetuating those dark thoughts won’t help you in
the long term. Your feelings may be overwhelming, but there are concrete steps
you can take to improve your outlook and regain hope for the future.
Speak kindly to yourself, and write affirming notes to post
around your house. Practice gratitude to rewire your brain and experience
all the benefits of a positive outlook. Journal your thoughts, and talk to
loved ones for compassion and support. If you’re struggling with long-lasting
or severe depression, speak with a doctor and therapist for additional tools.
Stresses Your Body
The connection between your mind and body is truly
astounding. When you experience mental and emotional stress, your body may
react with stomach cramps, hormone imbalance, acne, and a host of other issues.
On the flip side, if you don’t take care of your body, your
mind and emotional well-being will suffer. During a job hunt, it’s easy to lose
sight of self-care and become wrapped up in your goal. It’s essential to
protect yourself by investing in self-care during the job hunt process.
Setting up a routine is a helpful way to practice self-care
during this time of transition. Block
out time to job search, write cover letters, join networking events, and
fill out application forms. Then, block out times to rest, eat nutritious
foods, and spend time with loved ones. Your body, mind, and job hunt will all
Take some time to think about how your search may be
affecting your mental health. It’s okay if you’re unhappy with what you find.
Use this guide to start crafting a plan for self-care, rejuvenation, and
I believe in you!
Ginger Abbot is a student life and education writer who is
currently enrolled in graduate school part-time. She also serves as Editor-in-Chief
for the online learning magazine Classrooms.
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