Putting Wellness First = Optimized Job Search
It’s important that you maintain your wellness so you can be at your best when looking for your next job.
The definition we will use here for Wellness is the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort. It is an active process where choices are made towards a more optimal existence.
Most of us have heard eating well, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are important for our health. But do you know why they are important during a job search?
Let’s start with the overall benefits:
- Consistent Energy Levels – more fuel in the tank to get things done and more space to deal with any job search complexities
- Resilience – the capacity to bounce back and keep going
- Connected Emotions – able to manage disappointments or frustrations and less likely to act impulsively
What you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain. Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.
Things to consider:
- Stick to Whole Foods whenever possible. Whole Foods are foods that are left in their natural form, or as close to its natural form as possible
- Processed foods are addictive and can be harmful to your health with added salt, sugar, and unhealthy oils
- Easy way to start: increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet
The human brain is made up of approximately 75% water, so it is no surprise that dehydration has a dramatic effect on brain health
Things to consider:
- Dehydration impacts: mental fatigue, mood changes, premature aging
- Benefits: supports healthy brain cells, improves blood flow and oxygen to the brain, helps balance mood
- Generally accepted that you need to consume at least sixty-four ounces of water a day
Exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills. Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety
Things to consider:
- Commit to establishing exercise as a habit
- Start with a few minutes a day, and increase the amount you exercise by five or 10 minutes every week until you reach your goal
Study after study has magnified the importance of sleep to a human’s everyday health and function. During a stressful time it is even more important to remember to make restful sleep a priority so that you can remain focused and positive during your days of networking and job hunting.
Things to consider:
- Studies show that the gap between getting just enough sleep and getting too little sleep may affect your health and your mood
- Sleep loss affects how you think
- Everyone is different but, most need 7 to 9 hours
- It helps to turn off all electronic devices 1 to 2 hours prior to going to bed
- Sleep loss impairs your ability to pay attention and with decision making
Other things that are critical but often not addressed are self-care, proper breathing, and taking time for fun.
Self Care is a very personal thing. It is important to take some time in reflection to determine how you can practice consistent self-care during a job search. As a starting point, take the following assessment. Add questions or dimensions that are important to you. You can use this as a regular check in along the way.
Self Care Assessment
Check the items you can honestly say are true for you.
o Is your office organized so you can find things easily?
o Are your work spaces pile-free?
o Does your home provide you comfort and a peaceful place where you can think?
o Are your appliances at home in working order?
o Do you have back-up systems in case of electric failure, including for your computers, at home and at work?
o Do you maintain your car regularly and is everything working properly?
o Does your home have a smoke detector, fire extinguisher and easy contact to the police?
o Do you keep enough home and office supplies so you don’t run out?
o Do you find the colors and wall decor in your home and office pleasing?
o Is the temperature in your home and office comfortable?
o Do you sleep 6-8 hours every day?
o Is your bed comfortable?
o Does your back feel fine after sitting in your chair at work?
o Do you eat fresh, healthful food almost every day?
o Do you exercise at least three times a week?
o Is your cholesterol count within the normal range?
o Do you drink at least five glasses of filtered water each day?
o Do you drink two or less caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, sodas) per day?
o Do you keep your sugar-intake to a minimum?
o [Symbol]Do you get a complete medical physical annually?
o Do you wake up looking forward to your day?
o Do you take the time to acknowledge what you are grateful for each night?
o Do you take at least two vacations a year that refresh and energize you?
o Do you have someone in your life that hugs you regularly?
o Do you arrive at least five minutes early for your appointments?
o Do you take your time when driving?
o Do you promise only what you can deliver?
o Do you regularly explore new ways of perceiving the world?
o Do you have a good belly laugh at least once a day?
o Do you have at least two friends outside of your immediate family who you feel free to talk with about anything?
o Are you debt free or on your way to releasing yourself from debt?
o Do you save at least 10% of your income?
o Do you carry enough cash in your wallet to cover emergencies?
o Do you feel that you are compensated adequately for your work?
o Can you recover from a financial disappointment quickly?
o Do you have enough savings to cover a home, car, or health emergency?
o Do you carry enough insurance for your home, car, and health?
o Do you invest in your own career development so you can earn more in the future?
o Do you have a special knowledge or skill that gives you job security?
o Do you have a reputable and knowledgeable financial advisor?
o Do you have people in your life who encourage your dreams?
o Do you have friends to talk to when you need to relieve your stress?
o Have you said you are sorry to those who feel you have harmed in any way?
o Have you forgiven family members, friends and colleagues for hurting you?
o Have you resolved all of your conflicts so that you don’t avoid anyone?
o Do you tell your friends and family how much you care about them on a regular basis?
o Have you stopped trying to fix people?
o Have you disconnected from people who repeatedly disappoint, frustrate, or disrespect you as much as you can?
o Do you feel significant with everyone you come in contact with?
o Do you have a way of recharging your faith in life when you need to?
Tally up the boxes you checked.
What to next with your score? Set a goal to achieve for the items you didn’t mark true for you. Just take one at a time.
Start with the category you scored the highest on so you begin on your strongest foot.
Then work on this checklist until your score reaches at least 45.
As your score increases, notice how much your energy increases as well.
By breathing deeply, using the diaphragm, there is a heightened sense of energy and calmness. The mind and body relax and stress is reduced. More oxygen is brought into the bloodstream and to various cells in the body. Mental alertness is enhanced. Shallow breathing, however, tends to lead to tension and fatigue, while deep breathing is a critical part of overall good health.
Things to consider:
- To effectively combat stress, we need to activate the body’s natural relaxation response
- The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress (e.g., decreases in heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing, and muscle tension)
To begin, sit still and tall somewhere comfortable ideally with your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes and begin breathing through your nose.
Then, inhale for a count of two… hold the breath in for a count of one… exhale gently, counting out for four… and finish by holding the breath out for a count of one. Keep your breathing even and smooth.
If the 2-4 count feels too short try increasing the breath lengths to 4 in and 6 out, or 6 in and 8 out, and so on. But if longer breaths create any effort there is no need to push yourself. The most important thing is that the exhale is longer than the inhale, not the absolute length of the breath.
Set a timer and breathe this way for at least five minutes! You will see a difference in your mood and your alertness.
Taking time for fun
Research suggests that fun and play is good for us. Part of this is due to being in the creative part of our brain when we have fun. When you think in possibilities rather than obstacles, you notice more options and opportunities. Additionally, setting aside time for fun and activities that you find personally rewarding can help you stay optimistic during a long job hunt. Make a list of activities that are enjoyable to you and schedule regular time to do them. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Do a physical activity. Get your body moving. Take a dance class, run around a playground, or hang from a jungle gym.
- Start a nature collection.
- Try the adult coloring book trend.
- Host a potluck dinner based on food themes.
- Watch an Independent film.
- Invent your own game with a friend. Make up your own rules.
- Volunteer for a cause that is meaningful to you: helping an elderly neighbor, walking a dog at a shelter, working at a soup kitchen, etc.
- Take yourself out on a play date. Go to a museum, craft store, or paint-your-own-pottery place.
While unemployment and job search can be a challenging time in someone’s life, the stress can be managed and mitigated through careful steps and hard work. Remember to take care of your body. It’s the only one you’ve got. May you have a healthy and positive job search experience!