DePaul University Career Center's Blog

Managing Your Mental Health While Job Searching

Guest post by Dr. Stephanie Grunewald of Restorative Counseling (follow on LinkedIn for more mental health and wellness tips!) 

Job searching is a challenging process, but approaching it with a healthy mindset is possible!

First and foremost, take time to recognize and cope with the anxiety of searching for a position. There is always anxiety about trying to find a job, but COVID-19 has only increased anxiety for many. However, humans are not wired to make their best decisions when under stress, so taking a moment to calm yourself before settling in to do the search is very important. Some people like to meditate, go for a run, take a bath, or exercise; there are infinite strategies that you can use, but you must use them!

Next, I think it is important to be honest about your desires for a job, as well as your strengths and weaknesses. Taking time to assess what is really important can be helpful in terms of finding what you are looking for. Today, companies are focusing more and more on culture and measuring this as much or more than someone’s hard skills. Many skills for doing the work can be taught in training but the soft skills to fit into a company are inherent. Too often, people feel they need to try to fit the expectations of every job they are interviewing for, but that often leads to dissatisfaction later. It is okay if you do not feel you will be a fit. Be honest with yourself so that you can find a job where you excel.  

Setting boundaries around the job search is critical. I have many people who will spend hours every day scouring job postings, and that is not healthy. Set aside time when you are at your best, and set limits to the amount of time you are searching. Taking time to clear and calm your mind before and after the search is important. Being clear before the search will allow you to make wise decisions about where to apply rather than applying everywhere for fear of not finding something. 

Taking a moment after the search to reflect is equally important. Perhaps you did not feel you found any jobs that would work and you are feeling insecure or desperate; this can lead to making irrational decisions. Instead, take a moment to engage in self-care. For quick self-care strategies, I like to recommend guided imagery where you visualize a peaceful place and use your five senses: What do you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel? Another strategy for people who may feel tense is progressive muscle relaxation, which allows you to tense and loosen your muscles from head to toe. After you have taken a moment to implement a strategy, remind yourself that you have done all you can today and continue to remind yourself of that if the fear of needing to search more creeps in throughout the day.

Want more ideas? Join the Health Care & Science Career Community + Health Promotion & Wellness for Brain Fuel: Healthy Job Hunting on June 4! 

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