How to manage anxiety and mental health while job seeking

In the modern world, so much of our identity and self-esteem is wrapped up in our work, but we’re all so much more than our job titles. Taking care of yourself while looking for a new job is a skill in itself, and one you’ll need to keep your chin up when the going gets tough.

During a time when so many people are losing their jobs through no fault of their own (thanks covid), it’s more important than ever that we know how to cope with the anxiety and depression that may come with unemployment and job seeking. 

Get your finances in order

One of the biggest worries associated with unemployment is an obvious one - money. Apply for any help you may be entitled to from the government as soon as you can, which is likely to be in the form of Universal Credit. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may also be able to apply for a council tax reduction, and a payment holiday from your mortgage, credit card and loans. While things are tight, consider switching energy providers to a cheaper plan, and make sure you’re getting the best deals on your insurance, mobile phone and wifi plans - Uswitch is a great tool for this. Every little helps when you’re unsure how long you may be out of work!

Work out your budget for each month and cut down on luxuries if you need to. Knowledge is power when it comes to your finances, and keeping track of your money can help reduce the anxiety you may be feeling about it.

Stick to a schedule

While it’s tempting to lounge on the sofa in your pyjamas all morning, getting dressed and sticking to a normal daily routine can do wonders for your mental health. Treat your job hunting like a job, and set yourself a schedule for the day. This will help you switch off at the end of the day, and get some proper rest knowing you’ve done your best and put in lots of time and effort. Make sure you’re scheduling in your walks, workouts, and social time to keep your life feeling as normal as possible.

Learn new skills

You could use your time off to learn something new! Learning and achieving new things can be great for improving self-esteem, and could stop you getting too bored while you’re out of work. You could study something related to your career to add to your CV and increase your chances of getting hired, or you could learn something totally unrelated to feed your creative self. Coursera offer lots of courses from leading universities and companies around the world, all 100% online.

Get emotional support and stay social

Talking about our problems is key to reducing depression and anxiety and feeling better. Confide in your friends, family or partner, and tell them how you’re feeling. Don’t suffer in silence, and call on your social circle in your time of need. They’re there to remind you that you’re loved and valued when you’re having a tough time, as you would be for them, should they need you.

Even though you might need to watch your spending, plan plenty of low cost activities with your friends, such as video chats, walks or coffee dates. It’s important to stay connected with your social network, and keep up normal socialising while you’re out of work to avoid becoming isolated, which can exacerbate depression. If you’d rather talk to an impartial professional, you can self-refer for therapy via the NHS IAPT, or book a private therapist if you can afford it.

Mindfulness & exercise

Try practicing mindfulness, as this is scientifically proven to benefit your mental, physical and emotional health. Headspace is a fantastic, low cost tool you can use at home to learn how to meditate. 10 days of using Headspace can increase your happiness by 16%, and 4 weeks can focus by 14%, which will benefit your mood and your job search! Exercise is also key to improving your mental health and there are plenty of free options online, such as PE with Joe Wicks or Yoga with Adriene that have been popular during the pandemic.

Reward yourself

Celebrate your wins and small successes! Got an interview in the bag? Treat yourself to a drink at the pub. Finished your new and improved cover letter? Pick up a take-away coffee on your daily walk. Plucked up the courage to reach out to your LinkedIn network? Run yourself an indulgent bubble bath! Rewarding your efforts (even if they don’t all pan out) could help you persevere in your search and improve your mood while you’re at it.

Take a break

Job hunting can be extremely tiring and demoralising, so be sure to avoid burnout by taking regular breaks. It can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and there’s not a moment to spare when looking for a new job, but it’s difficult to shine in a phone call or an interview when you’re not operating at full capacity. Make sure you’re getting all the sleep you need, and take breaks whenever you need them - stress is extremely tiring, so don’t beat yourself up for needing extra rest. You deserve it!

Know your triggers

If you’re expecting news about a job application or interview, and know this is likely to upset you, plan some self care or a pick-me-up in case the news is bad. You could book in some time with friends, or make sure your favourite film is queued up with a take-away that evening. You could try journaling after bad news, which is a great way of processing your feelings and reminding yourself of your worth outside the rejection. Keep a note of some positive affirmations, and remind yourself of them after receiving bad news. These could include “I am valuable”,  “I am worthy”, “this hard time is only temporary” or “this too shall pass”.

Ask for help

Take time to check in with how you’re feeling regularly, and notice when your mental health is declining. Don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional when you need it. You can self-refer for counselling via the NHS IAPT portal, or find a private therapist online. There’s no shame in emotional suffering, and your GP should be well equipped to help and reassure you during this difficult time.

If your worrying is taking over, consider using an app like Worry Tree (recommended by the NHS app library), which is a CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) tool to help you handle your worries. When you log a worry, the app will prompt you to either take action, now or later, or distract yourself with another activity.

You’re not alone, and this too shall pass.

Posted by: AJ Fox Compliance