Today marks the one year anniversary of the first Coronavirus lockdown, forced to quickly adapt to remote life and a new way of working.
Though we’ve heard it time and time again, the statement remains true: these are unsettling, unprecedented times. It’s not surprising that because of it, the mental health of many people has been declining. This is especially true for job seekers who have recently lost their job, have been laid off or let go at the beginning of the pandemic, or job seekers struggling to be noticed in a now overly competitive job market. The added stress of seeing experience gaps reflected on their resumes due to the pandemic, and the sense of failure this causes, isn’t helping job seekers’ mental health either.
As the pandemic progresses and we reach the one year milestone of the lockdown, job seekers are feeling hopeless and incapable as they continue to ask themselves what they can do to change their situation. Of course, this brings about feelings of anxiety, overwhelm, depressive states, extreme burnout, and stress. These feelings are not temporary. Rather, they can have damaging long-term effects on our mental health. If you are feeling any of these things, or anything else pertaining to your mental health, the first thing you need to know is that you are not alone.
It is essential for job seekers during a pandemic to understand that although job seeking may seem like the most important thing at the moment, your mental health must always take precedence. This means, the first step to finding a new job during a pandemic, and for strengthening your resilience in the job searching process, is to take care of yourself. Neglecting your mental health is only going to make your life, and your job search, more difficult.
Here are some helpful mental health strategies for job seekers in a pandemic to practice:
Go Back to the Basics
This is at the top of the mental health strategies list because we all need a solid foundation on which to live our lives. Don’t forget that your basic needs don’t stop during a pandemic! Ensure that your foundation is built to support you by including all of the things you need to survive, including:
- Drinking enough water
- Adequate exercise
- Eating appropriately
- Fresh air and sunshine
- Getting enough sleep
- Taking breaks
Keep a Routine
I know that routines can sometimes be boring, but during times of so much chaos, the little bit of control that a routine offers us can be tremendously beneficial to our mental health. Plus, routines don’t have to be a down-to-the-minute plan of your day. Some loose guides can be just as effective at keeping you on track. If you’re someone that becomes unmotivated when faced with a strict to-do list, keep your routine for your mental health simple and catered to your particular needs.
Some things you may want to keep in mind include:
- Going to bed and waking up at a particular time
- Time and duration of your workouts
- Time for hobbies/things you like to do
- Checking in with family/friends
Journaling is an excellent mental health practice as it is great for externalizing and releasing your feelings in a way that is not harmful to yourself or others. When feelings build up and you feel as though it is going to affect your day, your mood, or your relationships, pick up a pen and paper and jot those feelings down.
For some people, journaling may seem intimidating, but it truly isn’t. There are no rules to journaling—your journal is completely your own—so you can fill it in a manner that suits you.
If you still don’t know exactly how to approach journaling, some helpful prompts that you can use on the daily include:
- Writing a gratitude list
- Writing your goals and accomplishments
- Analyzing a challenge you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome it/plan to overcome it
Use Your Social Network
Since we’re unable to see people outside of our household, it is crucial to keep in touch with your friends and family using other methods of communication. Throughout the last year, many have found it hard to reach out to people, but the fact is that humans need social interaction. Use social media, virtual meeting platforms, or call/text to stay connected with people in your social circle. Check in with them, share things that bring you joy, and,most importantly in terms of mental health practices, express your feelings to them. Keeping your emotions to yourself is not a healthy practice, and this is especially true during a pandemic in which you may be feeling heightened emotions.
This may be the hardest suggestion of them all, and yet, it may also be the most important. Nobody wants to accept the new reality that is a pandemic lifestyle, but regardless, we must try. Making a conscious effort to accept instead of resist will help you overcome feelings of failure, helplessness, and lack of control. No matter how hopeless you feel, remember that the pandemic and the resulting job market was not orchestrated, that many people are in the same boat as you, and, ultimately, that it will not last forever. Don’t waste your energy wishing the situation away or trying to find a loophole out of it; accepting our current position and finding ways to work effectively within it is the path that will lead to productivity, peace, and overall happiness.
Acknowledge Little Wins
Acknowledging the small accomplishments can yield big rewards. A great way to do this is to write out a to-do list and make sure to include even the simplest of tasks like “brush my teeth, “eat lunch”, “clear out inbox”, etc. Once you’ve completed those tasks, physically check them off, and allow yourself to feel satisfied about your little win. Sometimes it is hard to recognize just how much we do in a day. Tracking your little wins in this way will add up and help build resilience and a sense of accomplishment.
Many questions about the pandemic that continues to dictate our new lifestyles remain unanswered. Many concerns about job availability during the pandemic remain unresolved. But with these mental health strategies, job seekers can remember their value, take care of themselves, and return to their job searches in a more joyful manner.
If you’re looking for support in your job search, Joyful Hire can help you. To optimize your resume, receive interview training, get one-on-one coaching, or more expert services, contact me today. Also, find details about my services here.