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How to Look After Your Mental Health While Job Hunting

There’s no doubt that looking for a new job can be stressful. Having to deal with the disappointment of rejection, pre-interview nerves and filling out numerous job applications can be an exhausting and mentally draining process for anyone. Caring for your mental during this stressful time is essential.

Explore our advice below on how to mind your head during your next job search and how to navigate unemployment with a positive mindset:

Set realistic and achievable goals

Although attaining a new job may be your overall goal, it’s important to set yourself smaller, more manageable goals along the way. Setting a goal like ‘I will have a job by next week’ is not entirely within your control; it’s more achievable to set a goal such as ‘I will spend at least two hours applying for jobs today’. By creating manageable, realistic goals you can keep your spirits up and celebrate your achievements each day.

Establish boundaries

If looking for a job has become your new full-time job, it’s crucial that you establish a work/life balance just as you would in any role. Create a routine that you can stick to by having set hours each day in which you dedicate to your job search and ensure that you give yourself adequate breaks to avoid burn-out. Kickstart your day with a positive activity such as reading a book or going for a short walk before you get stuck into job hunting. Ensure that you have a cut off point for sending out applications and give yourself something to look forward to in the evening.

Also, remember to set your ‘working’ hours during whichever part of the day your energy levels are at their peak. Everyone operates differently so be honest with yourself and set your working hours around your natural body clock. This way you’ll be more productive and less likely to have job search fatigue.

Quality over quantity

When you’re desperate for the next pay cheque to come in, it can be tempting to apply for every job you come across. However, this approach could actually have a negative effect on your chances of success - you’re essentially wasting your precious energy by applying for irrelevant jobs.

Instead, be more strategic about your job search – focus on the quality of your job applications rather than the quantity of them. Writing a well-researched application that has been tailored to the person specification for a job you genuinely want is much more worthwhile than sending your CV to every business within a 20-mile radius. Hiring managers can usually tell if you have put the effort into an application, if you truly want a particular role then this will shine through.

Allow yourself to feel down

Setting yourself goals and celebrating your achievements are undoubtedly positive habits – but it’s important to remember that it’s okay to feel depressed, anxious or frustrated during this time and you shouldn’t punish yourself for these emotions. Allowing yourself to accept and experience negative feelings can often alleviate suffering, as you will be less inclined to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms if you are more open to dealing with unpleasant emotions.

Be kind to yourself

Taking time to be kind to yourself, in both your words and your actions, is crucial during an emotionally challenging time such as when you are in the middle of a job search. It can be easy to take rejection on a personal level and let it influence your self-esteem. If you find yourself in this situation, try to shift the narrative by speaking to yourself more positively. Instead of “I’m not good enough to get this job” try “I’m doing my best in a difficult situation, the right job will come along”.

Practice self-care habits, such as exercising, maintaining a good sleeping pattern, drinking plenty of wate and eating nourishing foods. If you’re feeling anxious about an interview, then try to manage that anxiety through practices such as mindfulness and meditation.

Give yourself a break

Remember to make time for yourself. Spend time doing things that you enjoy. Spend time with your family, friends and pets, or pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Keep up with your hobbies and get fresh air and exercise every day. It’s important to acknowledge that if you’re feeling low or demotivated you should take a much-needed break from your job hunt. After you have recharged and spent some time focusing on yourself you will feel renewed to carry on searching for your next role.

Seek support if you need it

Support can range from something as simple as venting to a friend or asking someone to proofread your CV before you send it off. However, sometimes it may be necessary to seek professional support if you feel overwhelmed by the job search. If you feel like you’re becoming depressed or worrying excessively about your future then contact your GP, who will refer you to the appropriate mental health services. You don’t need to suffer alone. Residents of Northern Ireland can contact Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 for a non-judgemental listening ear.

At Happy Jobs NI we have job listings right across the board, from accounting and management to hospitality and trades. You can view all of our current job listings here. We’re here to help and support you fully throughout your job search journey – if you would like to get in touch with our team to discuss job opportunities you can do so by calling us on 028 9099 5808.


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