Stressed? Go on! Start with the first big inhale.

If you can stand in space just for a little while, a new door will open, or you’ll be able to see in the dark after a while, you’ll adjust – Jane Campion

I host free half-hour calls every Friday entitled, “Hoda’s Career Chat: Your Education & Career Questions Answered”. I started these free calls during the COVID-19 lockdown. I found myself always super excited to hear the proposed questions that I decided to keep the calls going. Callers can email any education or career related questions or concerns in advance or in the chat box during the call. 

Some of the questions during the crisis were related to stress such as, “How can I manage my stress level when I know I cannot find a job?” It can indeed be very stressful when all the economic, statistical and medical reports are negative. 

It may seem that posted jobs are scarce and the competition is fierce. How is one to remain positive in such an environment? Do not panic! I have compiled a step by step guide for you. Think of it as your go-to guide whenever stressful thoughts start creeping in:

  1. Breathing exercises; take a deep breath in and an equal breath out. Repeat this step three to five times. I am not a breathing expert but everyone who tried this exercise, usually comes back and thanks me for sharing it. It is such a simple exercise, yet its benefits are amazing. If this one does not work for you, there are many other breathing exercises freely available online; check them out to find the one that best works for you. 
  2. Believe in yourself; your skills, abilities and knowledge. This is where my expertise as a career management professional comes in. This second step is so important for you to spend some time reflecting on because without this belief, you will find it difficult to leave stressful thoughts behind and move forward to the next step. YOU ARE UNIQUE! Whether you are fourteen or forty, your skills, abilities and knowledge are exclusively yours. These capabilities were developed through your individual experimentation and interpreted from your distinct perspective. Make a list of your skills, abilities and knowledge; brace yourself…you will be astonished by your own capabilities.
  3. Be truly self-confident; say it out loud, “I am confident!”. This is another exercise that I recommend my clients use before an interview. It never ceases to amaze me how self-assured my clients feel after yelling “I am confident!” two to three times. This step should be easy for you to do once you have completed step two. Some clients have created their own versions such as, “I am amazing!” or “Nothing can bring me down!”.
  4. Believe in your ability to go on a journey of self-exploration. So now you know that you are amazingly confident. What happens next? It is time to dig a little deeper and work to build self-awareness. Who are you? What do you enjoy? Why? What are your dreams? What do you need to accomplish them? Where do you want to be? Do not worry about what others think. You are the only judge of your answers. You know who YOU are. Get to know YOU and go beyond the superficial level. 
  5. Purposefully self-assess to explore what you are good at in your daily life. This next step is time consuming and demanding but it is worth every minute if you remain focused on your goal; managing your stress level. Here again, you will need to ask yourself some very tough questions. Answer them as honestly as you can. What are you good at (Go back to the list your created in step 2)? What do you do every single day? Do people come to you for advice? Where and when do you lose track of time?
  6. Look at every challenge or failure as a learning opportunity. This is the final and most important step. You are ready to face the world and defy the odds. Any challenges or failures are lessons learned. You applied to a hundred positions and no response; ask yourself why. You made it to the interview but did not get the job; follow up with an email to the person who interviewed you. These are examples of challenges that you may encounter during your job search. Turn them into silver bullets by thinking of them as learning experiences rather than dead ends.

Try this step by step guide and let me know what you think. Some of you may find it easy to complete it in one sitting. Others may want to take their time reflecting on each step and may take a month or more to reach step six. This is your journey. Take as much time as you need and remember that your focus should be to destress by envisioning a plan of your job search or career.

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