Job search stress? Tips to keep your anxiety at bay

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Job searching can be a stressful experience for anyone. The pressure to find the right-fit job, the fear of rejection, and the uncertainty of the job search process can all contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. It can lead to negative thoughts and emotions, discouraging job seekers from taking the very actions that can help them find a job faster! 

The good news is that there are strategies you can use to reduce the stress that comes with job searching and help you find work with confidence. From conquering job search anxiety to coping with rejection and maintaining a positive job search mindset, let’s talk about everything you need to know to stay mentally and emotionally healthy while finding your next job opportunity, including practical advice and resources to help you. 

Understanding job search anxiety and depression

It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or even depressed while looking for a job, and it can have a significant impact on your mental health. A recent study found that job searching is one of the top three most stressful life events. In fact, more people reported being stressed by job searching than by doing their taxes, getting a root canal, or moving! 

The pressure to find a job can be simply financial, or it can be a combination of financial and social pressures because of the expectations from our family or friends. And when we’re between jobs, self-esteem can take a hit. This can make it even harder to cope with the stress of job searching.

One common trigger of job search anxiety is the uncertainty of the process. You may feel uncertain about whether you'll find a job that suits your skills and interests, or if you'll find one at all. Waiting for a response after you apply is also a very common source of stress. 

Another trigger is the fear of rejection. When you apply for jobs and don't hear back or receive rejections, it can be disheartening and negatively impact your mental health. You may begin to doubt your abilities or worth as a job candidate, which can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety. And this gets even worse if it discourages you from applying to more jobs.

It's important to recognize that job search anxiety and depression are common experiences and that it's okay to feel overwhelmed or stressed out during the process. However, there are strategies and resources that can help you manage these feelings and stay mentally and emotionally healthy.

What you can do about job search anxiety

If you're struggling with anxiety or depression, it's important to take steps to manage these feelings so they don't derail your job search. Here are some strategies and tips for coping:

Set achievable goals

Break your job search down into manageable tasks and set achievable goals for each day or week. An example of a goal like this is, “I will apply to at least 5 jobs this week.” Another might be, “I will send a follow-up email for 3 jobs I applied for.” This can help you feel more in control of the process and give you a sense of accomplishment when you meet your goals.

Be kind to yourself

Don't beat yourself up for not finding a job right away. Remember that the job search process takes time, and rejection is a part of it. You’re more than your job offers or rejections: you’re a whole person who makes your own mark on the world in your own way.

Stay organized

Keeping track of job applications, interviews, and follow-up tasks can help you stay organized and on top of your job search. Use a spreadsheet, calendar, or app to keep track of your progress. Snagajob’s dashboard helps you organize jobs you have looked at and applied for on the site, and can help you organize your interviews, too.

Focus on the positives

Instead of dwelling on the negatives, focus on the positives. Take note of the skills you are developing, the people you are meeting, and the experience you are gaining.

Redirect your negative thoughts

Negative thoughts are normal, but if you find yourself spiraling, stop and take a breath. Try to imagine the best possible alternative future instead, like it’s a story you’re telling. Now try and figure out what future you “did” to make that happen. Was it taking a chance applying to a different type of job? Was it writing an email to follow up on a job application you haven’t heard back from? 

Practice self-care

Take care of your body and mind. Eat well, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and engage in activities that make you feel good. Eat an apple, go for a walk, sit down and close your eyes for 10 minutes to reset. “Secure your own mask before assisting others,” because your mental health–your survival–is essential. 

Seek supportive communities

Don't be afraid to lean on your support system for help during your job search. This could include friends, family, or a support group of other job seekers. Check your public library and local community college, which often host these kinds of peer groups. Just talking about your challenges and feelings can help. And hearing how others cope with similar feelings can be reassuring.

Take your own advice

Ask yourself: if a friend came to me worried about finding a job, what would I tell them? Imagining your situation from the outside can not only give you fresh ideas, but can help you feel more empowered and confident. It's a great strategy to build resilience.

Get help if you need it

It's also essential to recognize that job search anxiety and depression can be signs of a more significant mental health issue. If you're experiencing severe symptoms of anxiety or depression, it's important to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can provide support and help you develop coping strategies.

Remember, you're not alone in your job search journey, and there’s no shame in seeking help when you need it. By being kind to yourself and taking care of your mental health, you can approach your search with a positive mindset and the confidence you need to succeed. Good luck in your job search!

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