5 Ways to Manage Job Search Stress

This post was written by Sabrina Woods.

You’ve been working towards this moment for a long time.

There were days you thought it would never come.  Now it’s almost here.  Graduation Day!

The mere idea of graduation brings up a wild combination of emotions. You are thrilled with the idea of no more papers, exams, or leading a 7-person group project. Your joy, however, might get interrupted as you think about exactly what type of job you want after graduation and the process of getting it.

For the tactical part of your job search you’ve got fantastic resources at hand ranging from the Northeaster Career Center to your own network that has come from co-op and classes.job search stress

Now let’s talk about how you can master or tame your job search stress levels as you juggle capstone projects with job interview prep. Here are 5 tips:

  1. Give yourself some breathing room

This phrase usually means to give yourself space in between activities, but at this time of year that might be impossible. So instead, give yourself a moment to actually breathe. Right now try taking 3 deep breaths, AND after you inhale, hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds, before then exhaling slowly. The extra pause seems to deepen the effect and make you feel calmer. If you want to take it a bit further, consider downloading a meditation app or read How Meditation Changes the Brain and Body from the New York Times.

  1. Crank up the cardio

When we are feeling under stress, a good cardio workout can make a world of difference.  Check out the Mayo Clinic’s article, Get Moving to Manage Stress. You’ll learn how hitting the gym releases endorphins which are your brain’s feel good neurotransmitters. Exercise can also be “meditation in motion” pulling your thoughts away from your stressors and to what is happening in the here and now whether that be at the tennis court, pool or weight room.

  1. Small but committed

Set up and commit yourself to small goals either each day or each week. Think of your job search as a project for class. Break it into manageable pieces and celebrate small wins, such as that first customized cover letter for the consulting job. Get some additional inspiration about setting job search goals here.

  1. Check your “worry” level

Worry or anxiety at a low level can be good. It helps propel you into action. It can act as a motivator or catalyst. Worry at a heightened level, however, robs you of your energy. For more on how to tame those anxieties when they are getting the best of you, check out Face Your Fear, Free Your Energy.

  1. Positive affirmations

It might sound like a silly recommendation, but some people have really benefited (myself included) from developing these positive, future oriented statements. The idea here is to say things in a positive way, as if they have already happened. An example of a positive affirmation is “I have landed a job with a great team,” or it could be oriented towards some part of the job search process, “During interviews I am calm and deliver exceptional answers while building strong rapport”. From Psychology Today, you can also review, “5 Steps to Make Affirmations Work for You.”

While it’s true that the job search can be stressful, anytime we are facing the unknown this can be the case.  However, you’ve got a team of career counselors at Northeastern that are here to help. And it doesn’t take much to add in an extra workout, break the search into smaller bits and take a few deep breaths.

Want to learn more? Join us for this workshop:

Holistic Approaches to Your Job or Co-op Search

Thurs., March 17, 12:00-1:00pm, 12 Stearns

Details and Registration: here  Questions, contact Sabrina Woods, s.woods@neu.edu

Sabrina Woods is an Associate Director at Northeastern Career Development and also has a private practice as a Holistic Career / Life Coach & Linkedin Trainer.  She has been in this field for 15 years and is a Husky (BA in Business) plus has a Masters in Holistic Counseling from Salve Regina University in sunny Newport, RI.  When not working at NU, teaching Linkedin or talking about mindfulness practices, Sabrina loves to hike, bike and kayak.  For more about Sabrina, go to www.sabrina-woods.com.

Prioritizing Your Life

Ever feel like you have a to-do list that is 50 pages long and only 24 hours in a day? Chances are you aren’t alone in this dilemma. Whether it is exams or projects in university or feeling the pressure in the workplace, it’s so important to know what is top priority, especially when all of it seems important.

Write it all down. Take a blank sheet of paper and write down everything you have to do that day. It might take some time to do, but seeing it all in one place helps. You’ll be able to rank things in order so it’ll be easier to tackle that long list.

Numbers. Give everything a number. And yes, I do mean everything. It’ll be hard to decide for some, but assigning priority helps you realize what really is important that day. It’ll give you the space to focus on one task at a time. Play the number game with your to-do list. I guarantee not everything is top priority. This forces you to stop and examine what you’re doing; you’ll be better for it.

Break a big project down. Seeing an impending exam or due date is stressful. Instead of having one huge due date that’ll weigh you down, break it up into smaller pieces. For instance, if something is due in five days, do a quarter of it for the next four days and you’ll still have a day to spare for revisions or finishing up that last part.

Separate work from personal. Keep those lists separate. There is absolutely no need to have on your to-do list while at work to go grocery shopping or clean the kitchen at home. It’s not relevant and it messes with the mind! Split them. Not only will it be a shorter list on both ends, you’ll be able to focus on what really matters in that moment.

Cross it off. When you finish a task, cross it off! No need to have it on that list anymore.

Carry these tips into your life to help manage that planner of yours. It doesn’t have to be difficult – you can make it easier on your brain and more manageable on your workload.

Photo from http://michaelhyatt.com

Colette Biro is a 3rd year Biology and Mathematics major with a minor in Chemistry. She has worked in academic research at Northeastern and currently works in healthcare at Massachusetts General Hospital. Colette is passionate about running, November Project and being a Husky Ambassador. Feel free to reach out to her at biro.c@husky.neu.edu.

Spring into a Stress Free Zone

(Source: www.arinite.co.uk)

Who coined the phrase “I love stress!”? That’s right—no one ever. Now here in the spring semester, it’s time to identify, shed away, and prevent future stressors in your professional life.

Even if in love with your job, everyone has felt some level of stress in the workplace. Stress is common, and even beneficial in spurts or small doses, however chronic stress can be debilitating to your physical and psychological health. Common sources of stress in the workplace include:

  • Lack of social support or respect
  • Lack of professional development and growth
  • Overwhelming job-related tasks or deadlines
  • Unclear expectations of performance
  • Unsatisfactory salary/wages

Below are just a few of the potential effects of chronic stress. Hint: none of them are good!

  • Headache
  • Short temper
  • Difficulty sleeping/waking
  • Lack of concentration
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Depression

It’s important to identify the above symptoms as warning signs of chronic stress levels. Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies to manage stress, both by prevention and treatment. Here are just a few:

  • Develop healthy habits. Surprise—exercise is good! Thankfully, you don’t need a gym to lead a fit, healthy lifestyle. Anything from yoga, to moderate walks, to regular stretching in the office or home can make a difference in keeping stress levels down. Eat a healthy, protein/fiber-rich breakfast in the morning. Even if it means waking up an extra 20 minutes earlier, it will be more beneficial to your health, focusing your mind and body on the tasks of the day. Lacking a hobby? Find or create one! Whether it’s making time to pick up a favorite novel, or going to casual social gatherings, it’s a great way to relax and take your mind off work.
  • Recharge—even while at work. Staring at a computer or phone for hours at a time, multiple days a week can have serious consequences for your stress level, even if you don’t realize it immediately. Find time during your office hours to briefly leave the desk. Have a conversation with a coworker, take an actual lunch or water break, or whatever helps you de-stress. Your to-do list will survive the short period that you’re away.
  • Make stress your best friend (no, that’s not a typo). Most of us have had that all-important paper or project due the next morning—with nothing done the night before. Many of us still have been tasked with delivering a presentation in front of 20, 30, even 100+ audience members, about a topic we don’t even fully understand ourselves. Sound familiar? Sweating by just reading this? You’re not alone. However, we know that increased levels of stress can light a light a fire under us, providing the burst of energy needed to get the job done. While this should not be the go-to method for every work-related task, stress can aid us in a pinch in times such as this.
  • Communicate with others. Everyone handles stress differently, that’s just a fact. However, we all have friends and colleagues who hold onto stress for far too long without talking it out with others. If you are one of those people, few things can help you manage stress better than communicating with others, whether it be your supervisor, colleagues, or a career counselor (Northeastern’s Office of Career Development can help with this!). If bringing up job-related stressors with your supervisor, keep in mind that the purpose is not to unload a laundry list of complaints; instead, it should be to mutually come up with a plan to effectively manage the stressors you’re dealing with. Tip: most supervisors and managers can connect the dots between healthy, productive employees and effective work product. Have the conversation—you might be relieved to how quickly a solution arises!

Don’t forget that the Office of Career Development can help you manage certain aspects of your stress levels. For instance, stressing over the idea of choosing a career path or switching majors? Having difficulties preparing for the eventual post-graduation lifestyle? Struggling with the process of finding a summer internship? Stop by the Stearns Center for a brief 15 minute walk in, or set up an hour-long appointment with a career counselor to have a conversation on how to meet your career goals!

This guest post was written by Jabril Robinson, a Career Devel­op­ment intern and grad­uate stu­dent in the Col­lege Stu­dent Devel­op­ment and Coun­seling pro­gram here at NU.