Posted On: June 13, 2019
Job hunting involves rejection after rejection from company after company over months and months of time. Couple this with anxiety about finances, family, health and other everyday stressors, and even the most confident job seeker can transform into an insecure mess.
We all have physical and mental needs. The things we do to meet these needs are called self-care. Eating regularly is practicing self-care, but we have other, intangible needs that we often neglect in the name of expediency. Unfortunately, this usually only makes things worse.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identifies 8 different kinds of needs our self-care strategies should satisfy. As a job seeker, it’s important to ensure you have a plan to satisfy each one.
We are emotional beings and need our emotions validated by others, be it family members, friends, support groups, teachers or the like.
Not getting validation can cause us to lose touch with our own feelings. For example, people with disabilities get two contradictory messages from our culture: “You’re amazing” and “You’re damaged.”
I’m going to get angry if you treat me like I’m damaged, but if you do it while heaping praise on me, I might feel guilty. These conflicting feelings can turn into shame, which will sap my will to fight for meaningful change. Conflicting emotions like these are a common among people living with anxiety disorders and Depression.
Through counseling and support groups, I can learn how to accept my feelings of anger and develop healthy ways to push for meaningful change.
Self-care isn’t just internal. Healthy people live in healthy spaces. They keep their work-space organized, live in a clean home and relax in peaceful places free of distraction. They also maintain strong borders between these spaces.
Our bodies encourage us to be predictable. We like to think we eat at noon because that’s when we’re hungry; but really, we get hungry at noon because that’s when we eat. In the same way, job searching in the same place you relax won’t be as effective because your body goes into “relax” mode as soon as you enter that space.
Keep your spaces healthy and separate. Try creating a new space devoted only to your job search. Ready-made spaces are available at public libraries or career center computer labs.
It’s natural to worry about money when you’re out of work. People with disabilities can face additional financial stresses like medical appointments, equipment maintenance, transportation and PCAs.
Creating and sticking to a budget is important, but it’s easy to lose sight of your long-term goals. You may put off that programming class when it might be the best way to get your next job. Sometimes you have to make an investment in your future today.
Likewise, don’t forget that engaging in fun activities is part of your self-care. Include a little bit of spending money for fun things in your monthly budget. There are also dozens of free activities you can participate in.
You can’t talk self-care without considering sleep, diet and exercise. Remember that the body and mind are intrinsically linked. Neglect the body and the mind follows.
Keep a regular sleep schedule, eat a balanced diet and try to move around. A job search shouldn’t revolve entirely around your computer. Get your steps in by walking to that networking event, and get your Vitamin D by meeting at that outdoor café to network.
Most people think about organized religions when considering spirituality, but there are many different kinds of spirituality. Some people meditate while others look at the planets and stars through a telescope.
Practicing spirituality means disconnecting from the mundane concerns of everyday life for a moment and focusing on something bigger than yourself, be it an ideal, a deity, a philosophy or a series of values.
In other words, find a way to get out of your own head for a while.
We are social animals that have to connect with others. Unfortunately, many people with disabilities struggle to find social outlets. There may be emotional barriers as mentioned above, but there are just as likely a lot of physical barriers.
Fortunately, our modern society has invented quite a few ways to connect. Today, the Internet allows isolated individuals to build a peer support group spanning the globe, but be cautious. Nothing will ever really meet that social need like a face-to-face interaction.
Many people struggle with lacking a sense of purpose during their job hunt. Remember that we don’t have just one occupation. A job seeker can also be a mother, a daughter, a wife, a community member, a voter, a volunteer and so much more.
Think about how you can meet your other occupational needs while also looking for a job. For example, volunteering for your community might introduce you to entirely new career paths never considered.
Just as doing a physically repetitive task takes its toll on the body, intellectually repetitive tasks like filling out job applications all day take an intellectual toll. We need to engage regularly in intellectually stimulating tasks in order to stay sharp. Some people read books. Others play video games, garden, paint or cook. It doesn’t really matter what you do so long as you’re challenging your mind.
What makes something an effective self-care technique is that it leads to long-term stress reduction, so eating that entire pizza won’t cut it because you’ll regret it the next time you step on the bathroom scale.
Everyone’s self-care strategy will be a bit different. What works for some, might not work for you. Let your body be your guide.
Most importantly, don’t wait until you’re stressed to start dealing with stress. By making your self-care exercises part of your regular routine, you’ll be better able to handle the next job search when it comes around.