Job hunting is stressful. There’s no doubt about it. 69% of people report feeling highly stressed when trying to find a new job. And it makes sense: there’s so much riding on it. Being able to pay rent, make student loan payments, and – you know – eat puts a lot of pressure on you. But finding work, especially a job that you’re actually excited about, takes time. On average, it takes more than 22 weeks (over 5 months!!) to land a new job. No one should be living under stress for that long, which is why it’s important to engage in self-care during the job search. And we mean real self-care – not just a Korean face mask.
Finding ways to take the pressure might sound counterproductive, but self-care can make your job search more effective. And keep you from burning out!
Here are 10 things you can do to infuse some self-care during the job search.
1. Create a Daily Schedule
It’s easy to fall out of a routine when you’re out of work. There’s no pressure to get up, get dressed, or even get out of the house. To keep yourself from transforming into a hermit, put yourself on a schedule. Set an alarm to get you out of bed each morning. Block out a couple hours a day for job searching – just a couple though. (There’s no benefit to applying to 50 job opening a day and burning yourself out in the process.) Find time every day to socialize with others. And make an effort to leave your home at least once a day – even if it’s just for a walk around the block. By maintaining a schedule, you’ll regulate your sleep cycle, interact with others and not accidentally lose an entire day (or week..) to a Netflix binge.
2. Work it Out
In line with sticking to a schedule, block out some time every day to get a workout in. Afterwards, you’ll feel accomplished, get a nice mood-boost from the endorphins, and gain confidence. It also provides a great outlet for your job search frustrations.
3. Ditch the Negative Self Talk
Being unemployed can expose many deep-seated insecurities and cause us to doubt our worth. Beating yourself up about not having a job, not making enough progress, or not hearing back after an interview won’t motivate you to do better. Instead of listening to your inner critic, flip the script. While it may sound like a strange exercise, try talking to yourself as you would a close friend. Showing yourself kindness and encouragement will have a positive impact on your mood and your job search.
4. Give Yourself a Break
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Finding a job is no easy feat, so cut yourself some slack. Having a job does not define your humanity or your worth (even though we’re conditioned to see it that way). If scrolling through page after page of job postings is making you feel anxious, step back. Instead, work on your resume or reach out to a few contacts on LinkedIn. If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, switch gears completely and do something productive that you enjoy, like cooking or reading.
5. Embrace Flexibility
Congratulations! When you’re looking for work, you’re released from the shackles of the 9-to-5 slog. Make the most of it! When the weather’s nice, go to the park. Avoid the dreaded Sunday grocery rush. Enjoy the beach without the crowds. Hit up your favorite bar’s happy hour (and have your friends meet you there later). If your favorite band is playing two hours away on a Wednesday, there’s nothing to keep you from rocking out. Take advantage of the flexibility – while the rest of the working world watches wistfully from the break room window.
6. Sleep In
Yes, creating a routine with a set wake-up time was our first suggestion – but that doesn’t mean that you need to set it for some unearthly hour, or rise with the sun. Getting your 8 hours will do wonders for your mood and your outlook.
7. Get Outside
In the modern world, job searching means being glued to your laptop screen for hours straight. You have to use a computer to work on your resume, cover letter, find job, research companies, and apply to openings. Take a break from all that screen time. Go for a bike ride. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Go off the grid for a while with a camping trip. Getting in touch with nature is a great way to de-stress and reconnect with yourself.
8. Celebrate Your Victories
Even the small ones! Yes, when you’re looking for work you only have one goal in mind: getting hired. But little victories and personal triumphs are important too. If you withhold all praise for landing a job, you can quickly become demotivated and lose steam. So treat yourself when you get a callback. Get the $7 dollar latte when you have an incredibly productive day. Buy a new shirt to rock when you score the in-person interview. These little boosts will keep your spirits higher and outlook brighter.
9. Explore New Hobbies
Remember how we said that you should only spend 2-4 hours job hunting each day? That means that you’ve got plenty of hours left to take up a new hobby. If there’s ever been something you want to try, now’s the time. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn guitar or become a better home baker. Now’s the time! It’s important to your mental health to have personal goals that aren’t tied to professional ones. You are a multi-dimensional person and having a hobby that you love will keep you from anchoring yourself worth to purely professional accomplishments.
10. Set Goals
Come up with reasonable goals for yourself early on. Creating daily, weekly, and monthly goals will keep you on track while keeping discouragement at bay. When you’re developing your goals, make sure that they’re achievable. Trying to get a new job in 3 days will only leave you feeling frustrated with yourself. Instead, focus on improvements for each of the main components of the job search. Start with improving your resume. Then, create an outline for your cover letter. Spruce up your LinkedIn page. Reach out to 5 people in your professional network for leads or advice. Simple, actionable goals will help you maintain momentum and confidence while job searching.
When you’re job hunting, it’s vital that you keep things in perspective. The struggle to get hired can feel like a personal failure, when the reality is that the system itself is broken. It’s looking like HR departments are finally starting to understand that. But until they start taking action to improve things, make sure you take care of yourself first and foremost. Your health – both mental and physical – always comes first. Practicing self-care during the job search will help you keep your head above water while looking for work.