Healthy Hunting: Mind and Body Wellness during Job Search

It’s well-known that high levels of stress can negatively impact your life, causing anxiety, depression and even illness. In an effort to better understand the triggers that cause human beings such distress, in 1967 psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe studied over 5,000 medical patients and determined a set of 43 life events that can cause stress. 

Of that list of 43 life events, which included significant life moments such as marriage, divorce and family death, seven events were work-related, with being “fired at work” in the top ten most stressful events. It’s no surprise that researchers found that job search also can be extremely stressful.

With that in mind, here are a few simple tips to help you stay healthy while job hunting:

1.    Stick to a schedule

While unemployed and job hunting, it can be easy to allow your life to fall into a bit of disarray as you sleep until noon and fill out job applications while eating ice cream on the couch. Do your best to find a comfortable schedule and stick to it. Get up at 9 AM, go for a run, and after a refreshing shower take a peek at the new listings on Simply Hired before eating lunch at noon like a normal human being.  Maintaining this schedule can help you remain in control of your job searching process without feeling overwhelmed.

2.    Get up and get out!

Just because you’re unemployed doesn’t mean that you should be hiding in your house all day. In fact, some fresh air might do you good.  According to a 2003 Swedish study, people who ran outside in a park felt 15 percent more refreshed than those who ran on treadmills or on city streets.  Do yourself a favor and get outside. After a breath of fresh air and some exercise you might find yourself the happy recipient of a dose of endorphins that cause the stress and cares of job search to melt away for a while.

3.    Stay social

You’ve heard it time and time again. Networking is key during any job search. It’s also just  as important to keep your spirits up. Don’t cocoon yourself in your Snuggie watching “Friends” reruns. Go and make some new ones. Try a new exercise class at your local gym or join Meetup and find a book club or cooking club that interests you. These new friends may have useful connections, but more importantly you’ll be keeping yourself sane and relaxed during a stressful time.

4.    Dine, don’t eat

You’re unemployed and suddenly free during the lunch hour, so you start visiting all those cute restaurants and cafes that you told yourself one day you’d try. It’s great to enjoy some good food. However, don’t fall into the easy trap of eating out all the time. Save yourself some money, as well as calories, by taking the time to really dine. This means visiting the grocery store and making healthy choices. Try out new healthy recipes using sites like Pinterest, and enjoy the taste of your home-cooked delicacies.

5.    Take sleep seriously

Study after study has magnified the importance of sleep to a human’s everyday health and function. During a stressful time it is even more important to remember to make restful sleep a priority so that you can remain focused and positive during your days of networking and job hunting. Go to bed every night at a time consistent with your would-be work schedule, and do your best to get eight hours of sleep a night. In the words of Tom Roth, “Sleep is an investment in the energy you need to be effective tomorrow.”

While unemployment and job search can be a challenging time in someone’s life, the stress can be managed and mitigated through careful steps and hard work.  Remember to take care of your body. It’s the only one you’ve got.