This week (May 1 -7, 2023) is Mental Health Week in Canada, and one of the most stressful situations an adult can experience is job loss and looking for employment. Whether you’ve been laid off or voluntarily resigned from a job, proactively managing your mental health is going to be essential to conquering this period.
Many job seekers experience anxiety as they work toward securing a new job that is caused by a series of things, including the rejection that comes with applying, the uncertainty of the future, depression associated with focusing on your last role, a dwindling bank account and the stress related to interviewing.
What is job seeker stress? Job search stress anxiety is a very real thing. A job search that grinds on longer than expected (maybe much longer) can cause justified jitters. Anxiety can cause mood swings, irritability, and panic but also lethargy at the opposite end of the stress spectrum, a feeling of helplessness, futility, and social isolation. This is especially likely when your usual routine, social circles and self-worth are all influenced by your employment status.
Not everyone will experience the above, or they may experience anxiety for short periods during their job search. Managing your mental health during a lengthy job search will enhance your performance and attitude, so your authentic self will shine through when you are networking and interviewing. You will speak confidently and optimistically about your skill set, work experiences and future.
Eight things you can do to remain positive and keep job search anxiety at bay:
Be kind to yourself.
Don’t scold yourself and get in the habit of negative self-talk. Try to be your own cheerleader. Write a list of things you have accomplished in your work career. You’ll need this for your updated resume and when you start networking and interviewing. Include items that are not resume-worthy as well. Do you make an excellent bacon carbonara? Grow anything in your garden or recite the periodic table? The sillier, the better.
Take time to recover.
Whether this was a voluntary or involuntary job termination, you need time to destress from your previous role. This may heal the wounds of an unexpected restructuring, allow you to catch up on sleep, Netflix or connecting to friends you’ve been too busy while working, or get back to the gym.
Improve your physical health.
Often when we are working, we put our overall health on hold. This is the time to eat better, exercise, get into a sleep routine and catch up on those medical appointments before your benefits expire (dentist, massage, physiotherapy, glasses etc.)
Network and start getting out again.
Reach out to family and friends who will support you and improve your perception of your self-worth. As you feel stronger, look for like-minded groups. If you are an extrovert, you might enjoy socializing with other job searchers in your industry. They may share open positions, review resumes, role-play interviews and help keep you on track with your job-searching goals by holding you accountable.
A job search is a full-time job.
Try dedicating a few hours a day to networking, applying to jobs, updating your resume and cover letters, and staying connected in your industry by reading or listening to podcasts. Keep a consistent schedule on weekdays. It doesn’t matter what you schedule first or second, but you want your body and mind to get into a groove every day. Avoid staying up late or sleeping in. The circadian rhythm influences your brain and your mental health.
Make a budget.
Planning is critical to stop that uneasiness and panicky feeling if you are experiencing the financial pinch of no income. Your brain loves planning. It makes you feel in control and able to weather any storm. Planning also stops your brain from obsessing over the worst-case scenario.
Learn something new.
One of the best things you can do to maintain a healthy outlook on your job search is to learn. It can be related to your profession to help you be more competitive in your job search, or it can be something fun. When you are learning, your brain creates dopamine, a key chemical to boost your mood. When learning, you also create a growth mindset, a highly in-demand skill that recruiters and hiring managers seek.
Ask for help.
If you are struggling in your job search and feeling overwhelmed, you should ask for help. Speak with a friend or family member. They can help you keep this period in your life in perspective and remind you that you are more than your job. You can also speak with a mental health professional to help navigate these feelings. The Canadian Mental Health Association offers a multitude of options to receive mental assistance. If you have been feeling depressed or thinking of suicide, please call 1.833.456.4566 toll-free (In QC 1.866.277.355) 24/7 or visit Talk Suicide Canada.
When job searching, it is normal to feel vulnerable and uneasy. However, actively managing your mental health with the suggestions above will help you navigate your job search with confidence, resilience, and optimism and ensure you are always stepping out with your best foot forward.
Need help with your resume or interviews? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out our job board with hundreds of open positions in Canada. We are actively interviewing and hiring job seekers. Agilus’ recruitment consultants place over 10,000 candidates yearly in temporary, permanent and contract positions. We are Canada’s largest privately-owned recruiting firm collaborating with the top employers in Canada in Technology, Engineering & Tech, Office & Professionals and Light Industrial.