A period of unemployment can mess with your daily routine. But neglecting your health and well being during a long job search can have a greater effect on your career. Follow these tips to avoid an unemployment slump.
Do you know what’s more stressful than a taxing job? Not having a job at all.
Being on what feels like an endless job search produces high levels of stress, which can lead to health issues and changes in mood or attitude. In turn, these changes can impact your entire job search experience — for the worse.
To be a viable candidate for a job, you need to be in good mental and physical shape. No one wants to hire a person who comes to work feeling sick and run down everyday.
More than any other generation, Millennials are the worst at taking care of themselves, according to Aon Hewitt’s 2014 Consumer Health Mindset survey of 2,700 U.S. employees and their dependants. Only 39 percent of Millennials surveyed believe preventative care is important to their continuing good health.
Millennials, just because you are younger doesn’t mean you are invincible. (Click here to tweet this quote.)
Here are five measures you should take to stay healthy during your job search:
1. Exercise socially
It might not be big news that exercise is good for you, but according to a recent clinical study, exercise was found to improve immune function, antidepressive response, and sleep quality in patients with chronic insomnia.
So, if you’re losing sleep over job-search anxiety, exercise is key.
If finding the time and motivation to work out feels impossible, make it a social event. Work out with your friends. Join a regular yoga or group exercise class. Use an app like FitBit or RunKeeper to keep track of your physical activity.
2. Fill up on fruits, veggies, and vitamins
Remember when you discovered you could eat ice cream and Kit-Kats for breakfast at college because no one was around to advise you otherwise? Hail the days of early adulthood! Hopefully those days have come to an end — for your health’s sake. It’s okay to treat yourself occasionally, but if you want long-lasting energy, try to consume fresh produce daily.
Scour Pinterest for recipes and get creative in your own kitchen. Start taking a multivitamin and an immune support supplement for an extra boost during stressful times.
3. Go to the doctor more often
If you procrastinate going to the doctor, you’re not alone. In Aon Hewitt’s survey, Millennials were the smallest group (54 percent) who reported having a physical within the last 12 months. Compare that to Generation X (60 percent) and Baby Boomers (73 percent) — time to make an appointment!
Though technology gives us plenty of tools to get the information we need to self-diagnose and self-cure, nothing replaces going to see a real doctor. Regular checkups could prevent a health crisis that causes weeks of setbacks.
Plus, knowing for sure that you’re in good health will provide much-needed peace of mind during your job search.
4. Get more sleep
Sleep deprivation decreases energy, concentration and speed of thought, according to a pilot study published in January. During your job search, those traits should be at their peak! Take care to sleep at least seven to eight hours each night.
Listen to your body. When you’re exhausted, go to bed — even if it means leaving the party early. It might not feel like it affects you as much in the short-term, but after several months of staying up until 4 a.m., you’ll start to feel less alert and healthy. Your Netflix queue will still be there in the morning.
During a long season of unemployment, it’s not uncommon to feel you’ve lost your sense of purpose. You’re no longer expected to be somewhere each day and you have no tasks to troubleshoot, so you might find it hard to stay motivated and confident in your job search.
Keep your mind fresh and stimulated by volunteering. Though it doesn’t pay, you’ll receive all the mental and social benefits of working. Plus, you’ll encounter plenty of people who have jobs with whom you can network. The social interactions and meaningful work will help keep your spirits high enough to fight unemployment depression.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of taking care of your health during your job search. The better shape you’re in, the easier you’ll be able to endure a potentially stressful and long job search. Sleep and exercise will help you think clearly, while eating well will help you feel well. Don’t forget to take preventative measures like seeing a doctor regularly.
Then, once you’re hired, you’ll be full of the energy you need to hit the ground running.
What are some other ways you can stay healthy during a long, stressful job search?
Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.