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 Managing Your Job Search Stress During the Holidays

By Joe Stein

We are now heading into the Holiday Season. With that place in the calendar, many in Western New York find themselves balancing the stress of their job search with another crazy December.
One of the keys to managing stress is to understand and accept that stress is natural and is felt by everyone. It is comforting to know that you are not unique or alone in how you are feeling. We all feel stress when faced with change or some degree of uncertainty. A job search is, by nature, a time where change will occur and a situation where some uncertainty exists. Stress can be either physical or mental, so you should be aware of where you are with both aspects.
There are some things that a Job Seeker can do (or avoid) to help manage any stress that is being felt. Let’s take a quick look at some suggestions for you to consider:
Tips for Managing Stress:
1.       Enjoy the Interaction – The holiday season tends to find us meeting new people or catching up with old acquaintances. Enjoy the time spent catching up and use it to recharge your batteries (especially if, by nature, you are an extroverted person). Networking is so important in a job search and now you have a built-in reason to visit during the holidays. Enjoy the reminiscing along with the story telling and, you never know, you just may find yourself with a job lead or two when you are done.
2.       Stay Healthy – It is very tempting to take the holiday season off regarding good health habits. Stay extra diligent in your exercising. It will help your overall health while also providing an outlet to expend any stress you have built up. It is also easy to overindulge in both food and drink. You will want to stay sharp and take care of your body by enjoying the season in moderation.
3.       Give Back – The holiday season offers a wide variety of opportunities to give back and volunteer in your community. These enriching activities can help you feel much better about yourself, while helping a good cause. Volunteering can also look good on the resume or provide some great small talk with a networking contact or Hiring Manager.
4.       Love What You Have – When you are job searching during the holiday season, it is easy to feel like everything and everybody is against you. Living through December with that type of attitude will easily cause stress and perhaps something even more debilitating. If you give yourself a chance to look, you will probably find a number of people or things that will cause you to pause and give thanks.
5.       Rely on Family and Friends – This thought naturally partners with Tip #1 in this category. Reach out to your network of friends and family whenever you need a “pick me up”. For those who need some quiet time let your loved ones know so they will respect your wishes for space, while being there for you when needed.
6.       Provide Yourself Wins – Keep a job search schedule, along with one item that you desire to accomplish during a given day. Focus on achieving, at least, that one key item. By doing so, you are ensuring yourself a positive win for the day. That win will work wonders with your outlook for the following day.
7.       Stay Busy – For most, the holiday season is not optimal for a lot of alone time.  A person can quickly feel some level of depression by being alone during the festive season. Keep yourself busy in your job search, especially if you do not have the support group listed above. Consider accepting a temporary position during the holidays, in order to provide not only some money, but also a great networking opportunity, while staying busy.
What Not To Do:
1.        Stop Your Search – It is a false conclusion of the past, that people do not get hired during the holiday season. If anything, continuing your search may give you a competitive advantage, by placing you in the market when others may have falsely decided to take the month off.
2.        Stretch Yourself Financially On Gifts – It is tempting for anyone to overspend during the holiday season on gifts for family and friends. Your loved ones should readily understand and support you if holiday gift giving does not occur or is limited, due to your situation. Be open with your loved ones and you might find this situation leads you to a more traditional “old fashioned” holiday, away from the mass merchandising.
3.        Have False Expectations – You may have some “starts and stops” to your holiday job search. The reality is that Recruiters and Hiring Managers will take some time off during this period, perhaps delaying a position to be filled. Don’t allow any delays to cause any stress in your life.
4.        Lose Composure – Do not allow yourself to wear your emotions “on your sleeve”. Whatever you may feel at the moment must be invisible to the Recruiter or Hiring Manager. 
The holidays can be a very challenging time for a Job Seeker. It can, however, be a very fruitful time if a person enters with the right mindset. Consider implementing some of the suggestions above in order manage your job search stress this holiday season.
As always, the best of luck in your job search.