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How to stay sane and healthy while on the job hunt

Written by Eric Titner

Those of us who have been in the work world for a while know all about the challenges of life on the job hunt. It can be an anxious and stress-fueled time in which you’re constantly riding an emotional rollercoaster of heightened anticipation and disappointment, driven by constant effort, often with no immediate payoff and with no certain end in sight—no one’s idea of a fun time.

To make matters even less fun, the work world continues to get more competitive and the rules for navigating the modern job hunt get more murky and unclear as technology and innovation continue to disrupt the old rules and established ways of doing things.

So, with all of that said, it shouldn’t be any surprise that maintaining your physical and mental health while on the job hunt can be a real struggle. There are few challenges in life as stressful as job hunting, and the effects of stress on one’s health are well documented. WebMD recently published an article that highlights some of the more pervasive symptoms of stress, which include the following:

  • Emotional symptoms: becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody; feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control; having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind; feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed; avoiding others
  • Physical symptoms: low energy; headaches; upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea; aches, pains, and tense muscles; chest pain and rapid heartbeat; insomnia; frequent colds and infections; loss of sexual desire and/or ability; nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet; dry mouth and difficulty swallowing; clenched jaw and grinding teeth
  • Mental symptoms: constant worrying; racing thoughts; forgetfulness and disorganization; inability to focus; poor judgment; being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side

Clearly, the impact of these symptoms on your life can be significant and can make an already difficult job hunt even more difficult. So, how can you stay healthy and sane while on the job hunt? Let’s look at proven strategies for staying cool, calm, and collected and maintaining your physical and mental health when you’re looking for a new job.

Remember the rest of your life

When you’re focused—or overly focused—on a job hunt, you may start to lose your grip on all the other things going on in your life. We’re talking about everything from personal hygiene to paying bills to eating properly and getting enough exercise—things that sometimes get neglected during an intensive job hunt. Bad move: avoiding any or all of these can have a real negative impact on your well-being and can drag down you and your search for a new job. Be sure to maintain an appropriate and realistic life balance and both you and your job hunt will be better off for it.

Keep your perspective

When you’re out of work and struggling to find your next job, it can feel like your entire world is imploding. This mindset is both unhealthy and unhelpful—it can completely drain your self-confidence, focus, and motivation, and be a real roadblock to an effective job hunt. Remember, your job is just one aspect of your life and identity, and a job hunt can be an opportunity for bigger and better things—as long as you maintain a healthy perspective on things.

Find support

When we go through a difficult challenge in life, it’s often helpful to have the support of others to help us make it through. We all need to lean on friends and family during times of stress, and this notion also holds true during a job hunt. If you need the advice, guidance, or perspective of someone you care about and trust while you’re searching for your next great job, then get it—and use it to help steer you towards a successful outcome.

Embrace change (if needed)

The truth is, when many of us begin looking for a new job, we get tunnel vision and narrowly focus on a specific type of job in a specific industry, effectively putting all of our job-hunting eggs in one basket. Although this occasionally pans out and sometimes we find exactly what we’re looking for, hunting this way can also be very limiting and keep us from realizing other opportunities. By expanding your professional horizons, which sometimes means a significant revision of your initial plans and embracing a new path and goals, you can increase your chances for success and discover new things about yourself in the process. 

If you’re in the middle of a job hunt, by all means, take it seriously, but don’t let your health and well-being suffer as a result. Use the strategies and advice presented here to help you make it through successfully.

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.