When COVID exploded into our lives last year, many of us expected it to disappear as quickly as it arrived (I certainly did!) However, despite vaccines being rolled out, we still are experiencing lockdowns, the inability to see our loved ones, increased confusion about what is going on and desperation to return to some sort of normality again. Thus, for the majority of us, stress seems to be an almost regular occurrence. But, for job seekers, the COVID pandemic is just one additional cause of stress to endure.
Effectively managing your stress is essential to succeeding in the job market, writes Karen Dunbar, Senior Personal Branding Specialist and qualified Stress Management Coach at The CV & Interview Advisors.
Work-related stress affects 79% of U.K. adults (up from 59% in 2018) and is the leading cause of sickness from work. Stress is a serious business, and if you can’t find ways to manage your stressors, then your ability to sell yourself in the job market will be seriously affected.
8 stress-busting techniques
- When it comes to stress, the only way to properly address it is to know the cause. This involves assessing the triggers of your stress (e.g., financial concerns or lack of employment), and creating a strategy to address each issue you face. By understanding these triggers, you can remediate them.
- Keep a stress journal! You have probably heard of the concept of journaling, and this is a great way to deal with the stresses you face. So, following on from point 1, make a list of all of the things that stress you out and rate these out of 10. This will help you prioritize your stressors.
- During COVID times, you are likely to be working from home. For some people, this is the best thing in the world. For others, it is just another HUGE stress. By making sure your home setup is suitable for work, you eliminate a lot of the stress. For example, ensuring you have a quiet working environment with a suitable workspace is essential, especially for those with families also at home. Trying to get work done at the kitchen table on a hard dining-room chair — or balancing your laptop off a cushion on your lap while on the sofa — is not conducive to a productive and serene working life.
- Take plenty of ‘Me’ time. This is not a new concept. For the majority of people, having a decent work-life balance is incredibly important. However, knowing and doing are different. Put aside a regular time each week, whether it be a whole day or one evening, to completely focus on you.
- Avoid unhealthy habits. When stressed, many people tend to follow unhealthy habits such as stress eating, consuming too much alcohol, smoking more than usual or drinking copious amounts of coffee. These ‘avoidance behaviors’ allow us to forget for a brief moment about the things causing us stress. But they are simply a crutch. So, avoid these at all costs.
- Challenge yourself. Setting clearly defined goals and challenges will help you focus and minimize areas that ‘overwhelm’ you. For example, are you looking for a new job? Think about what you’re seeking. Is your CV and/or LinkedIn profile polished or do you have any contacts on LinkedIn that you can approach? By creating a plan for each objective, it allows you to remain focused on the job at hand without being distracted by trivial things.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. It may sound obvious, but eating the right foods and taking some regular exercise, even just a 20-minute walk, can make a difference to your stress levels. For many people, due to the often hectic and busy nature of their work, combined with working from home with the family in the background means simple things such as taking a lunch break get sacrificed. Make sure you take regular breaks and eat often to avoid burnout. In addition, escaping from your home working environment for some exercise is a great way to feel refreshed and take your mind off your stresses.
- Speak with someone. If stress has become a cause for concern (i.e. you are experiencing feelings of anxiety or depression), it is important to speak up. Many people, particularly busy professionals, become so engrossed in their work that they don’t ‘have time’ to get any help. Working with a stress management coach can help eliminate the stress from your life.
By Karen Dunbar of the Senior Personal Branding Specialist & Stress Management Coach at The CV & Interview Advisors.