Managing Mental Health While Job Hunting

Looking for a job is hard enough under ideal circumstances. However, if you’re trying to find a job quickly, this process can quickly become completely overwhelming. Being unexpectedly laid off, or finding yourself needing work without savings to depend on, can put you at risk of a serious nervous breakdown. 

Although it feels like the stakes couldn’t possibly be higher, it’s absolutely vital to keep your stress levels under control. Once you reach the breaking point, it’s even harder to cross the finish line. If you’re in this position, this article is for you. Keep reaching to learn some tips to keep your mental health in check while job hunting. 

Differentiating Between Pressure and Stress 

In many cases, people perform better when they’re under pressure. Deadlines and ambitious goals can motivate you to push yourself, helping you achieve the seemingly impossible. However, when that pressure becomes too much, it transforms into stress, which has the opposite effect on your productivity. 

While there’s no reason to shy away from pressure, you have to do everything you can to minimize stress. That’s a tall order when you’re facing the countless obstacles and inevitable setbacks that come with looking for work! With bills piling up, even minor miscommunications and unexpected delays can make you feel completely overwhelmed. 

The stress that comes with job search frustration can easily disrupt your ability to succeed at finding work. Stress clouds your judgment, slows your reaction time, and poisons your attitude. This can lead to poor decisions, settling for less than you deserve, or uncomfortable interviews with companies who normally should be begging to employ you. 

Considering the ways stress can stand in the way of you finding the job that you’re looking for, it’s absolutely vital to prioritize ways to cope with it. Maintaining your mental health during this difficult time may seem like a distraction, but in reality it’s an investment towards your ultimate goal of finding a job. 

Scheduling Breaks

Many people feel guilty about not spending every waking minute searching for a job. As soon as you step away from your computer, it can feel like you’re wasting valuable time. However, there’s a big difference between procrastinating and handling other responsibilities! 

If your kid needs to be picked up from school, you certainly wouldn’t leave them hanging in order to spend more time job hunting! There are certain things we simply have to do, and recharging your mental battery is one of them. 

Scheduling is the easiest way to spot when you’re procrastinating, and when you’re not. Try to schedule the amount of time you’d like to spend job hunting, alongside the other responsibilities you’d like to take care of. Next, plan small breaks to give yourself time to re-energize. By scheduling time away from the computer, even if it’s 20 minutes, you’ll remove the guilt that disrupts your ability to truly relax. 

Maintaining Confidence 

When you’re out of work, it’s very easy to become self-critical and to lose self-esteem. For many of us, our careers represent success and self-actualization. That’s why, when you’re adrift without a job, it’s easy to start feeling worthless! You need to take active steps to avoid this kind of thinking, because a lack of confidence and insecurity in your abilities is a detriment when job hunting. 

Start by giving yourself credit: you are busy, and you are pushing yourself forward towards the next chapter. All too often, we need to be reminded that searching for a job is just as intensive as having one. If you can, log the amount of hours you’ve spent searching, to show yourself proof that you are working hard. 

Don’t Neglect Your Hobbies 

You have countless interviews ahead of you, during which you have to give complete strangers a good first impression. It feels like a cruel coincidence, then, that you have to do this when you’re at your most stressed! However unpleasant, you have to be ready to put your best foot forward. This is why, even during this uncertain period, it’s important not to neglect the things that make you ‘you’. 

While you may not have much time to devote to your passions at the moment, even small amounts of time set aside to pursue them can have a hugely positive effect on your confidence. Sports, hobbies, and social circles all help reinforce your identity. Reminding yourself what makes you special will give you a boost of confidence, helping you shine in your upcoming interviews. 


Given that every minute spent not at your desk job-hunting can feel like squandered time, you may be unwilling to leave home to hit the gym or go for a jog. Committing time to anything other than your job search can be stressful in and of itself. That’s understandable! 

That’s why it helps to change the goal of exercise from ‘fitness’ to ‘de-stressing.’ Right now you don’t need to lose weight, or get in shape: you simply need to release the tension that builds up from such a stressful process. 

If you don’t have time for more committed exercise, try to build exercise into your day. Here are some ideas: 

  • Avoid elevators, and always take the stairs.
  • Do push ups or squats before you sit down at your desk. 
  • Take a short walk around your house. 
  • End your day with a bike ride 
  • Try 5-10 minute yoga exercises throughout the day

Most importantly, focus on anything that gets your heart rate up. Cardio exercise helps to relieve a lot of stress, so remember to push yourself, even if it’s for a few minutes here and there. 

Embrace the Nervousness  

It’s completely natural to worry about the future, but remember that comfort and predictability aren’t always good for you. Nervousness is a sign that you don’t know what’s next, but if you’re putting in the work, you don’t have any real reason to believe that what’s next will be negative. 

At uncomfortable times like these, your mind will play tricks on you, asking you to go back to what’s safe and familiar. However, simply remind yourself that you felt just as nervous before any of the most positive changes you’ve experienced in your life so far. Breathe in, and remember that you’re going to be fine! 

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