Unless you've been under a rock for the past few years, you are aware of the economic problems that the U.S. has been facing. Although we are not the only country coping with this hardship, it doesn't make things easier. The majority of the population has learned to tighten their belts. Families are no longer spending money on extravagant wasteful items or ignoring balances in bank accounts or credit cards. One of the biggest impacts of this economic crisis has been the rising unemployment rate. As companies are focusing on their bottom line, individuals are quickly realizing that job security is becoming a valuable commodity. As more and more individuals struggle to look for work in an economy that is slowly recovering, their mental health continues to bare the weight of chronic stress.

Chronic stress is damaging to the mind and body, not to mention how damaging it can be to your job prospects! Imagine going into a job interview looking haggard, and frazzled. You would be more likely to fidget in your seat, drop items on the floor, talk quickly, and present yourself below what is typically your best. Learning how to manage your stress while searching for a new career is challenging, but with the right tools you can learn to keep your stress under control and use it to your advantage.

1. Your priority should be keep stress at manageable levels. We all have stress, but being able to control and manage it is essential. Coping strategies are ways we cope. Having coping strategies for stress management means that you have ways to cope with and manage your stress levels.

2. Assess your coping strategies. Do you have any? If you do, are they healthy strategies? Using alcohol to manage stress is an unhealthy coping strategy. Practicing meditation or breathing are examples of healthy coping strategies.

3. Practice your diaphragmatic breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing is simple and can be used to calm yourself at any time. Ultimately you want to breath in through your nose (for 4 seconds), hold your breath (for 2 seconds) and exhale through your mouth (for 6 seconds). Your breathing should be controlled, long, and slow allowing only your stomach (diaphragm) to move.

4. How do you use stress to your advantage during your career search? Stress releases adrenaline into the blood which can help give you motivation and increased focus. There is a sensitive balance though, because too much stress can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and decision paralysis.

5. Being motivated and energetic is a great way to achieve your goals, but remember to be realistic. You will not win them all, and you are not perfect. Reframing how you view your world goes a long way. Every obstacle you encounter can be viewed as the end of the world or as an opportunity. Remember you have control over how you interpret every situation.

These are very simple and quick changes that can really make a large impact on successfully managing your unemployment and career search. Remember to control your stress, and learn how to leverage it to your advantage. Perspective is important, you can view it as a challenge or an opportunity. These little changes will help keep your mind healthy so you can focus on your job search and keep your calm. Implement them into your daily life and see immediate changes.

Till then, continue “Discovering Your Own Way”…

- Dr. Brennan

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Brennan attended Rutgers University, and graduated with a Bachelor's of Arts in Psychology. She also completed a Master of Arts in Psychology at Pace University. Upon completion, she began a doctorate program at Argosy University completing a Master's of Arts and Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology.

Dr. Brennan worked for 4 years in addictions and with dual diagnosed patients. She understands the unique challenges that are present when living a sober life. Additionally, Dr. Brennan has worked with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) individuals, addressing cognitive difficulties, behavioral modifications, and developing compensatory strategies, in a forensic hospital, and two years as a contractor for the Department of Defense (DCoE).

Presently, Dr. Brennan works as a Professional Life Coach, helping individuals achieve their goals of self improvement through online life coaching. Coaching provides her with the opportunity to offer her clients more behavioral guidance, support, and direction than is available in a more traditional psychotherapy settings.