Taking Care of Your Mental Health as a Job Seeker During Lockdown
Jade Smith, May 20, 2020
It’s a very difficult time to be a job seeker. The job market is already overwhelming at the best of times, and the country entering lockdown to fight COVID-19 has certainly not helped. With 42% of Brits reporting that their well-being has been affected by coronavirus, it’s more important than ever to take care of your mental health. I have dealt with mental illness for almost a decade, and through this I have learnt some very important ways to take care of myself. Here are some tips on lockdown self-care:
Keep up a Routine
It’s really tempting during lockdown to let yourself stay up all night to binge shows on Netflix or eat breakfast at 2pm. Having some form of routine each day will help your body deal with stress. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day. If you take medications, set a reminder on your phone to take them. It sounds obvious, but sometimes an act as simple as getting up and brushing your teeth or washing your hair can be a large act of self-care. Try to do at least one small thing each day to tidy your space. For instance, aim to at least make your bed, or tidy your desk. Often I have found that starting one small act of tidying can motivate you to move onto other tasks, although it’s okay if it doesn’t.
Get Out of the House
Take advantage of the warm weather and go out for a walk! Take your phone and play some fun music on Spotify and do a lap of your local park. As we transition into the summer it’s so important to take breaks from your job search and get plenty of fresh air, soak up some sun and some vitamin D. But remember, if you’re going to spend long periods in the sun protect your skin with some SPF!
Exercise (if you can)
This can be a great way to energise in the morning or to relieve the stress of sitting at a computer all day. Exercise for me became a lot more enjoyable when the goal stopped being about losing weight or gaining muscle, but to get that release of endorphins. The Body Coach’s videos offer resources for a great variety of workouts for all ability levels, and is currently donating profits from his PE videos to the NHS. If this isn’t your cup of tea, take a browse through YouTube and see what suits you best.
Speaking from experience, it’s hard not to feel like you’re burdening people with your problems. However, it’s important right now with social distancing in place to keep in touch with your friends and family. Make sure you check in with the group chat once in a while, give someone a phone call or organise a weekly Skype/Zoom chat. Talk to people you trust about how you’re feeling. You’re not alone. Pushing myself to tell my friends when I needed help allowed me to stay in the best headspace possible during my job search. If you are really struggling with your mental health, check out organisations like MIND, who have a range of resources to help you.
Another great way to deal with the stresses of a job search is mindfulness to help deal with anxiety and focus on the tasks you need to get done. This is especially crucial with the tidal wave of information we are hit with every day online and on the news. Write your feelings down in a journal, or scribble them on paper and tear the paper up. Download a meditation app and learn exercises to focus on your breathing. Try some yoga – Yoga With Adriene is an excellent online resource for guided yoga routines and strongly encourages mindfulness during practice. Make “to do” lists each day and cross each item off as you finish it! This is a great way to compartmentalise and deal with each stress individually in order of importance, so that your mind is clearer.
Maintain a Balance Between Rest and Productivity
It’s easy to think that the lockdown needs to be spent as productively as possible. Everyone's talking about how they’ll exit lockdown 5 stone lighter, having baked 100 loaves of bread and speaking fluent French. This may add pressure to be switched on 24/7, but spending all day working will eventually lead to burnout. Set a certain amount of time each day for your job search. During my job search I liked to follow the Pomodoro method. Work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break: grab some tea, stretch, then get back into it. But more importantly…
Be Kind to Yourself
The job market is an extremely hard place to navigate right now. Many companies are pausing hiring or delaying the process due to lack of capacity to hire virtually. Not achieving results during such a strange period of time is by no means your fault. The important thing is to persevere and keep trying. Take advantage of the time to do some research. You may find that your skills are transferable to an industry you haven't thought about before. Take care of yourself first and everything else will follow.