How to handle stress in your job search and your life

stressIt’s difficult, if not impossible, to avoid stress these days. In this constantly changing, do-it-yourself world, there are so many demands on our time. And way too many things to do, especially if you’re looking for a job.

As hard as you try, you will probably not be able to achieve everything you want to accomplish. Instead you may become stressed out and irritable.

But what can you do?

Looking for work can seem overwhelming. You have to create a resume and JIST card. Research companies you might want to work at. Find out the names of the hiring managers of those companies, and make a list of them to call. If you’ve been incarcerated, you need to put together your turnaround packet and turnaround talk.

Take one step at a time

The tasks may appear to be endless, but there’s no need to despair. Since you know you can’t do everything, begin with one thing you know you can accomplish. Create a list of your former jobs to put on your resume, for example. Or brainstorm ideas for your 15-second elevator pitch.

You can only control what you do, not what happens with what you do. You can control the number of resumes and JIST cards you send out and the quality of those resumes and JIST cards. You can control the number of cold calls you make and who you make them to. You can’t control the response you’ll receive from the other side, however.

They may get back to you, or they may not. They may be interested in meeting you after a phone conversation. Or they may not.

Keep your stress level low by doing what you can to make things happen, and then letting it go. It’s really about how we relate to it all, holding things lightly and recognizing it’s all a numbers game. The more letters, resumes and JIST cards you send out, the more chance you have of a response. The more hiring managers you call or visit, the more likely you will find one who is willing to talk to you. And remembering to use the power pose on interview day can help give you confidence and reduce your stress level.

Other ways to control stress

Besides actions you take in your job search, there are other ways to control stress so it doesn’t end up controlling you.

Here are a few of them:

  • Positive self-talk. Try to banish negative thoughts from your mind, and give yourself a pep talk. Tell yourself that you can do it. You have the qualities it takes to get the job you desire.
  • Calming one’s mind can also be achieved by developing resilience, the ability to bounce back when things don’t go quite the way you expected.
  • Manage your time effectively. Make a to-do list that will keep you on track. Trying to do too much can be stressful, however, so don’t schedule too many activities.
  • Minimize social media exposure. Comparing yourself to others and their accomplishments can make you feel inadequate.
  • Talk to a friend. Just being with and having someone who will listen to you can make you feel better.
  • Learn how to say no. If people are making too many demands on you, tell them politely that you won’t be able to do what they’re asking at the moment.
  • Include exercise in your daily routine. Take a walk, ride your bike, create a daily exercise routine, or dance to your favorite music.
  • Take time to do something you enjoy. Practice the guitar, get together with a friend to play a board game, or fix something around the house.
  • Eat healthy. Start your day with a substantial breakfast that includes protein and whole grains. And make sure your snacks are healthy ones, like fruit and nuts.
  • Practice gratitude. Make a list of all the good things in your life, including the strengths you will bring to the type of work you are looking for.
  • Get enough sleep. You need at least seven hours per night, but eight is better.
  • The breathing technique of Mindfulness meditation, if practiced on a regular basis, can help reduce stress.
  • Laughter releases endorphins that will make you feel better and help reduce stress. Supposedly it works even if you fake it.

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