Career AdviceCareer Coaching

How to Keep Your Mental Health in Check when Looking for Work During the Pandemic

By in Career Advice, Career Coaching

Author: Alex Dimeglio | February 16th 2022
Reading Time: 5 minutes

I remember watching the movie Contagion years ago. The thing that I admire most about that movie aside from the wonderful acting from everyone involved in the film, was how realistic the pandemic felt. A true global pandemic doesn’t infect everyone at a rapid rate, it moves tepidly and takes its time. Never in a million years did I believe that film would become our reality. Well, here we are, life as we know it has been put on pause and the best thing that we could do right now is adapt to our new situation and prepare to live in this new world. 


One thing that has really affected me personally is seeing a lot of people get laid off and losing their jobs because of the coronavirus. As a result, the amount of jobs available to everyone is now very limited. Speaking with many recent graduates and those who had to apply for unemployment insurance, I’ve noticed people doing a lot of the same things that I did when I was personally struggling with mental health issues. I wanted to come up with a few simple tips to make sure that your mind remains as happy as possible with our new circumstances, and never strays too deep into the darkness because I have been there and it is scarier than you could ever imagine.   


   1.Talk about it


The first thing everyone should do, especially now, is talk about the current struggles that you’re experiencing. Whether you’re experiencing success or failure, bottling them up is never a good idea because isolating yourself from others will only leave you feeling alone and helpless. Expressing your feelings to your friends and family may yield some wonderful insights and maybe even an opportunity will arise that will ease your troubles and get your career off to a good start. The point is, let your loved ones in because sharing your most intimate thoughts with the ones you care for most will always lead to your mental health remains stable, regardless of your current situation.  


   2. Be realistic


If you’re not expecting anything other than your dream career, which you want to get with very little to no experience, I promise that you will be stuck in front of your computer forever and you will probably miss out on a wonderful opportunity. Rome wasn’t built in a day, the same applies to your dream job. Consider your current experience and understand what type of jobs you qualify for and choose something that will grow your experience and give you the opportunity to move up in the company. This is how career satisfaction happens, understanding your limitations and remaining humble throughout the grueling process of job hunting. 


   3. Create a routine/checklist 


Speaking from personal experience, I initially believed I could start looking for jobs whenever I wanted to throughout the day and I would be successful. I noticed that when I didn’t have a routine, I would keep putting my search off and I would find myself getting distracted by the likes of Netflix and Instagram, which meant I would be making no progress in my job search. I quickly got my act together and established a routine that worked for me. I would wake up at the same time every day, eat some breakfast and dedicate a full hypothetical workday to finding my ideal career. Leaving the fun stuff for the end of the day allowed me to learn how to appreciate what hard work gets you, along with enjoying the little things that are even more satisfying after a hard day’s work. 


   4. Get goal-oriented


The best way to go about this is to make sure that you start with small attainable goals and then you gradually make these goals a little more difficult. The reason for that is because if you spend days without checking off or crossing off a goal that you have set for yourself, you will only leave disappointed and there is a big chance that you will stop chasing these goals all together. Achieving even the smallest goal is immensely satisfying and you will notice that when you achieve even the smallest milestone, it will manifest this new addiction of goal achieving because the euphoric feeling will be something you will want to feel all the time. There are worse things to be addicted to and this could be something to make sure that your dreams really do become a reality. 


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   5. Acknowledge your achievements 


To build on the last point of achieving your goals, announcing your achievements to your family and friends is a wonderful way of acknowledging a milestone and receiving praise from the ones you care about the most. The praise that you receive from friends and family is a useful motivator to keep working hard at achieving your short and long term goals. The reason for that is because the ones we love are the ones that matter most, so when they are happy for us, it makes us feel unlike any stranger can make us feel, because we know their praise comes from genuine love affection that they feel for you in return. 


   6. Take a class


Have you noticed a new skill popping up in almost all the job descriptions you have been reading? If so, do you know how to do this skill? If you’re asking yourself these questions, this is the time to acquire this skill immediately. Especially if it gives you an edge over your competition. Doctors always attend seminars and take classes because as we move forward in time, things always change, usually for the better. The same applies to every profession. The reason why we are slowly achieving the future most sci-fi films have promised us is because we are always adapting and never staying stagnant. I’ve noticed too many people get frozen in time because something different truly terrified them and those who continue learning thrived in every situation possible. Who do you want to be; someone failing to let go of the past, or embracing a future…that’s what I thought. 


   7. Treat yourself


One system that has worked for me personally is creating my own reward/treat system. Let’s say I would have a productive week where I would accomplish an insane number of personal tasks that I would set for myself, I would reward myself with something special. I would have a weekly thing that was always something small. In quarantine, this was usually of the specialty food and drink variety. A little treat to pat myself on the back. At the end of the month, I would usually purchase something that I would want. Getting something you need is alright, but nothing compares to buying something really nice. This system really worked when I was job hunting because I found myself spending a good amount of time making sure that I accomplished my tasks and whenever I wasn’t working, I felt like I earned my time to chill and do something that I liked. You would be surprised with what you can accomplish when you add a reward into the mix.  


   8.Get inspired


Do you have role models or hobbies you turn to when you feel like life has become too much suddenly? Remember, this is different for everyone. Something could inspire someone else, but leave you clueless and possibly empty. Don’t worry, this is a good thing because the beautiful thing about all of us is that we are all unique. I personally find inspiration through entertainment. Whenever, I land on a film, book, or tv show that has a character I could relate to, who overcomes a similar obstacle. This is one thing that I use to fuel my drive. I also happen to have friends and family who grind daily to make their dreams come true. Just having them in my life has assured me that no matter what happens in life, if you never give up, know exactly what you want, and work as hard as you possibly can at it, you would be surprised at what you could accomplish. 


Another reason why I have made this list is because you now can learn about yourself and what works best for you. Since we are all made differently, it is important to try everything and see what works best for you. Once you do that, you will see your mental health remain stable during the strenuous task of looking for a job, which was only made harder with the coronavirus. Remember, if you can get through this pandemic, everything else in life will pale in comparison. Remember, you got this! 

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