I don't know about you, but if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, "I’m stressed," I would probably be a millionaire. And if I were a millionaire, I would not be searching for a job. Unfortunately for us, we are not benefiting financially from the stress of others, which is why we are job searching. Stress is a human reaction that happens to everyone. It's our body’s way of responding to a challenge or demand. College students and recent graduates are especially vulnerable to substantial amounts of stress because of the emergence of new experiences and situations, such as the job search process. While stress in short bursts can be useful, too much stress has many negative repercussions. Throughout the job search process, individuals may experience a great deal of stress, so it is important to make sure that this stress is managed. In this post, I will discuss what stress is and the effects it has on your body, explain the importance of stress management and provide eight suggestions on how to overcome stress you may face during the job search process.
The Job Search Process: Navigating the Stressful Road Ahead
So I heard you may be searching for a job? Searching for a job can be a challenging and enduring task, but more importantly, it can be an extremely stressful process. If not managed, stress can physically, emotionally, and socially affect you. Fortunately, a little stress management can help prevent many of the stress-related issues associated with the job search process. This blog will introduce you to various ways to help manage your stress.
What is Stress?
Stress is a feeling of mental or emotional tension. It is our body's reaction to new challenges or demands. Stress can arise from any life event or situation. However, it is often a result of new, unexpected experiences or when we feel we have little control over a situation. Let’s take a look at stress from a scientific perspective, our body produces stress hormones to trigger our fight or flight response and activate our immune systems. This helps our bodies respond quickly to potentially dangerous situations. Interestingly enough, stress can be useful as it can help us get through fear or pain. However, too much stress can cause a multitude of negative effects, which in the long term can be harmful to one’s physical and mental health.
Who Experiences Stress?
While we have already learned that everyone has to deal with stress, college students and recent graduates often experience very high levels of stress. And it just so happens that these two groups of people are often involved in the job search process. College students commonly experience stress due to increases in responsibilities, poor time management, and not taking the time for self-care. Many college graduates experience a great deal of stress during the transition from college to employment, which can be referred to as Post Commencement Stress Disorder or PCSD. Some reasons for this post-graduation stress include: feeling worried and fearful about the future, feelings of failure during the job search process if they cannot find work in their area of specialty, and not feeling in control of their life. It is quite evident that people in the job search process are likely to experience a great deal of stress.
How Does Stress Affect You?
There are two main types of stress: acute and chronic. Acute stress is short-term stress that goes away shortly after it is triggered. An example of acute stress is when you are stressed because of an upcoming speech, but following the delivery of your speech, you no longer have that stress. Chronic stress, on the other hand, is stress that remains for an extended period of time. It is easy to become so accustomed to chronic stress that you do not realize it is a problem. Over time, stress can lead to very serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and depression. There are a variety of physical and emotional symptoms that derive from stress, some of which you may not even realize are caused by stress. Stress may affect you in ways that include: forgetfulness, lack of energy or focus, feeling irritable, tiredness, weight loss or gain, and using alcohol or drugs to relax.
Why You Should Manage Stress?
As previously mentioned, stress is a natural human reaction that happens to everyone. We all experience it at some point in our lives. Additionally, stress has a physical, emotional, and social effect on our bodies. Stress can build up and, over time, lead to an abundance of health problems. Managing stress can help prevent these adverse health issues like heart disease and the others that were stated above. Stress management can also help you sleep better, control your weight, get sick less often, be in a better mood, and get along better with others. It's important that you engage in stress management, especially during the job search process.
Ways to Manage Your Stress:
Stress should not be ignored and stress management should be made a priority, especially throughout the job search process. Here are eight simple ways that you can help manage the stress you may face during the job search process.
- Make a Plan
Stress is often triggered by new and unexpected experiences, so try your best to plan ahead. Try planning your time and preparing yourself for stressful
events. Creating a job search plan that helps you break your big goal into smaller ones that are easier to manage is also a great way to manage your stress. For more tips on staying organized and planning ahead during the job search process, check out Career Services - Planning Ahead - Getting and Staying Organized | School of Education and Human Development | University of Virginia.
- Stay Positive
While it may be tough, do your best to stay positive. It is always easier to accomplish things, especially in the job search process, when you enjoy what you're doing, so try and find ways to make it fun. Try rewarding yourself when you accomplish things.
- Remind Yourself It’s a Process
It’s important to remember that finding a job does not happen overnight; it is a tedious process that takes time. It is normal for it to take a while to hear back from employers.
- Take a Break
While finding a job can be crucial and urgent, it is still important that you take a break every once in a while. Take some time to practice self-care, you need to make sure you are taking care of your mind, body, and soul by engaging in activities that you desire.
Try out some relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, which can help relax your muscles and clear your mind. Not interested in deep breathing or meditation? Try taking hot showers to help you relax.
- Get Active
Regular physical activity has been shown to manage and even prevent stress. It can also help relax your muscles and improve your mood. Some ways to get active include: going for a walk, going on a bike ride, or lifting weights. Refer to Exercise for Stress and Anxiety to learn more about how physical activity can help eliminate your stress.
- Get Restful Sleep
Sleep plays a crucial role in our lives. Lack of sleep has been proven to lead to higher levels of stress, depression, anxiety, and various other health effects. One tip for improving your sleep is going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Another way to get better sleep is by staying off of electronic devices at least thirty minutes before bed.
- Get Support
If you are feeling stressed, try talking to your friends and family, who may offer help and support in managing stress. It can be as easy as going and getting coffee with a friend or having a quick chat with a neighbor. If your stress does not go away or keeps getting worse, you may want to consider talking to your doctor or mental health professional. To learn more on how to manage your stress using a social support group, check out Manage stress: Strengthen your support network.
You: 1, Stress: 0
As you go through the job search process, you will likely experience a great deal of stress. It is important to remember that stress is a natural reaction that everyone experiences. You are certainly not alone. Stress can even be quite useful throughout the entire job search process. There might be many negative effects that can come from stress, but a little stress management can go a long way and help prevent these effects. Regardless of where you are in the job search process, I hope you learned some stress management techniques that can help you live a happy and healthy life.
Want a recap of this blog? Check out the poster below which displays the main takeaways from this blog.
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