Some moments it hits hard.
You’re juggling multiple responsibilities and pressures, personally and professionally. With so many things going on, you’ve become overwhelmed emotionally.
There are many hats to wear daily. In the job search alone, you wear 6 hats, as noted by Skye Berry-Burke, Founder of Skye Is the Limit Resume and Career Solutions:
- Business Owner.
- Public Relations and Social Media Specialist.
- Marketing Guru.
- Sales Professional.
- HR Representative & Hiring Manager.
Wearing these hats is a given in this process. No doubt about it.
But, these hats alone cause overwhelm, especially when your job search drags on.
Additionally, you’re juggling the realities of unemployment: (lack of) finances, debt, prolonged joblessness, and straining relationships, for example.
But, the feeling of overwhelm doesn’t stop here.
You’re also worried about your professional future.
Will I ever reenter the workforce? What if I apply to this job and don’t hear back about interviews? Will I ever see “success” in my career of choice?
Your mind swirls with various thoughts. There’s too much going on mentally – not to mention physically.
You feel less empowered. You lose the right perspective. And, you question your ability to handle everything.
I know this feeling well. Let’s consider one source of my overwhelmed feelings while unemployed: the job search.
When I started my job search after caregiving, I set out to learn (and apply) everything I could. My goal was to land a job quickly, and I worked at it, without setting boundaries.
I reasoned with myself:
I can’t be lazy in my job search. I must be diligent.
I can’t take time away from my job hunt. Why would I do this?
I have a goal to achieve: getting a job.
Interested in knowing what I did after reasoning?
I researched companies of interest and suitable opportunities. I worked on and updated my resume and cover letter for every position I applied to.
I submitted these application materials back to back. I interviewed for jobs, whenever I received requests. I reached out to professionals in positions I aspired to be in.
Altogether, I took action.
Not only did I work hard, I crashed hard, too.
I became overwhelmed by everything: the researches, preparations, submissions, interviews, rejections.
The whole process.
I questioned my knowledge, skills, and abilities. I questioned my ability to ‘succeed’ in my search. And, I struggled with what my next move should’ve been.
Add these things to everything else I juggled, and overwhelm filled me. With the passage of time, however, I realized the importance of doing something about this feeling.
I stepped back from my job hunt and put things into perspective. I realized the importance of focusing on thing at a time.
Everything left me exhausted and stretched too thin, so I knew my first focus was self. I needed to stop sacrificing my health for long hours of job searching, and I did.
Tips for Controlling Overwhelm
I’m no expert on overwhelm by any means. I’m writing from experience.
I learned to push (and still push when those moments come) through with grace and want you to do the same.
Why? Because managing everything is a daily necessity, if you want to avoid unemployment procrastination.
So, I’m sharing 5 tips for your review. Every point below helped me manage overwhelm. Hopefully, you’ll find them helpful and applicable to your situation also.
1.) Care for Your Whole Being.
This is the most important tip.
Nothing’s wrong with committing yourself to your daily tasks. If you don’t, then you won’t get the results you seek.
It’s easy to sacrifice yourself, when you’re focused on finding an unemployment solution. And, you’re most likely to feel crashed by overwhelm upon doing so.
This isn’t healthy, and this is where the impact of taking care of yourself comes in.
When you care for self, you position yourself to manage all other tasks effectively. You’ll also manage your stress in a healthy way.
Knowing this, make it your everyday mission to:
- Eat and Drink. Don’t underestimate the benefit of stopping, eating, and drinking, when you’re hungry. Doing so will prevent you from taking those overwhelming feelings out on others.
- Sleep. Allow me to emphasize the importance of nightly sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, overwhelm comes easily.
You’ll find it difficult to manage your responsibilities when you’re tired and exhausted. You’ll function better, on the other hand, when you’re well-rested, so please don’t put off getting the rest you need at night.
- Rest and Relax. Create boundaries and rest from everything related to your situation. Relax.
Now, I personally know this isn’t the easiest thing to do in such difficulty. Though you try to relax, you probably can’t sometimes because your mind is always on with the ‘what ifs.’ Shifting from one thought to another.
But, resting and relaxing is refreshing. It’s your downtime. This downtime has an upside too, according to the Harvard Business Review: it improves your physical, mental, and social health.
Be intentional about creating a routine, which allows you to incorporate this time. And, enjoy its benefits.
- Stay Active. Beat the steam with some kind of activity. While letting off steam, you’ll also boost your health. And, research shows you only need one minute of strenuous activity.
Most importantly: don’t forget your spiritual health. Don’t neglect spiritual disciplines, such as prayer and Scriptural reading and meditation. They help you think and zoom in on what matters in life. They also build the faith required to press through unemployment with confidence.
2.) Examine Your Thoughts.
You already know there’s a connection between your feelings and thoughts. So, it’s helpful to examine your thoughts, when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Unemployment brings lots of difficulties and challenges. This, in turn, brings painful thoughts. You think:
- I’ll never beat unemployment.
- I’ll never get a job offer.
- I’m a failure. Will I ever succeed in some way?
One negative thought leads to another. You’ve recognized this, right?
These thoughts replay themselves over and over, mentally. They send your mind in the direction of negativity, causing you to focus on what you lack. What you think won’t happen.
The issue, though, is: they’re not truths. And because these thoughts aren’t truths, you should do 3 things when they creep in:
- Beware of Them. You must pay attention to your thoughts. Kevin L. Chapman, Ph.D. and Psychologist, provides the following suggestion, when it comes to overwhelm: watch out for
“unrealistic or unreasonable thoughts that spark your stressed-out reaction.”
- Identify Them. What you think has the ability to overwhelm you, so it’s important to identify overwhelming thoughts, such as those listed above, when they come. When you identify destructive thoughts, you can take the next step.
- Destroy and Replace Them. Don’t believe you’re a failure. Don’t believe you’ll never get through this. Destroy these thoughts.
After destroying them, you can replace them with truth. “I’ve failed to get a job offer for the many positions I applied and interviewed for. But, I’m not a failure. I’m learning and growing through it all and will land the job for me – somewhere. I’ll keep putting forth my best efforts.”
When you know the truth, you can focus on the truth and speak it to yourself daily.
Destroying and replacing unhelpful thoughts with truth is a worthy process. It becomes easier over time and reduces the feelings associated with overwhelm.
3.) Shift Your Focus.
If you’re thinking any of those negative thoughts above, you’ll enjoy a shift in your focus.
Why is this important? Because the way you push through unemployment is a reflection of how you see it.
When feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to stop and evaluate your views. Do you hate unemployment and remain stuck because of overwhelm? Or, are you doing what you can to better your situation, one day at a time?
It wouldn’t hurt to focus on the latter, if you’re focused on the former. Doing what you can to better your situation each day helps you move forward effectively.
Remember: you can’t focus on today and tomorrow. It’s impossible.
Instead, shift your focus to the present. From there, devote your time and energy to accomplishing what you can today.
4.) Schedule. Prioritize. Concentrate.
If you’ve decided to do what you can to better your situation (discussed above), then you should consider this. You shouldn’t tackle everything at once in your job hunt, for instance, although it involves many activities.
Avoid overcommitment. Instead, schedule and prioritize your top responsibilities daily. By doing so, you’ll know what to concentrate on this day. Then, focus on the task at hand.
Some believe you’re not productive, if you’re not multitasking. But, contrary to popular belief, doing multiple things at once isn’t effective.
Especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Research shows multitasking is really switching tasks. Earl Miller, Neuroscience Professor at MIT, says:
“You’re not paying attention to one or two things simultaneously, but switching between them very rapidly. You cannot focus on one while doing the other.”
So, consider concentrating on one thing at a time based on your to-do list.
And, when it comes to your job search, make use of a plan. Dorothy Tannahill-Moran suggests a job search plan including the following:
- Job Titles (No More than 3).
- Company Criteria.
- Targeted Companies.
- Your Resume.
When you have a plan, you can compile a list of a few tasks daily, with a focus on one thing at a time. And, remember to complete your most important task first.
I say this a lot on the blog, but resist spreading yourself too thin. Doing so results in overwhelm, exhaustion, and frustration. And, the basis of this article is overcoming them.
If you’re interested learning more about using your time better, then you can check out my self-management article.
5.) Run to Your Healthy Outlet.
You might question the importance of checking out for a while – physically, emotionally, and mentally – to do something nurturing. But it’s essential.
You dedicate a significant amount of time to various activities and tasks. And, please believe: they drain your energy.
It’s beneficial to restore this energy daily. So, don’t pass on giving your time to something you enjoy.
Simple things you can do include:
- Drawing a Picture.
- Cooking a Meal.
- Hanging Out with Family.
- Taking a Walk.
- Reading a Book.
- Taking a Nap.
A creative outlet is a great mental escape from your challenges and helps when you fall to overwhelm. It provides an opportunity to express yourself in a healthy way and increases your positivity.
How much time you dedicate to this activity is a matter of choice. But, it shouldn’t lead to procrastination on your part.
What’s important, however, is: you commit to it and schedule time for engagement regularly. After engaging, you’ll feel better and return to your responsibilities, ready to take action.
Manage Your Unemployment Overwhelm
Unemployment is a challenging situation, and you feel overwhelmed, at some points. But, don’t give up. You should do what you can to manage these feelings with diligence.
I hope you find these tips beneficial in your overwhelm management. To summarize, they are:
- Care for Your Whole Being.
- Examine Your Thoughts.
- Shift Your Focus.
- Schedule. Prioritize. Concentrate.
- Run to Your Healthy Outlet.
See if they work for you. Additionally, don’t hesitate to seek professional help, if you need it.
P. S. Get notification of more articles to help your manage your out of work experience to your betterment by entering your e-mail address in the box to the left of this page!
Disclaimer: This article contains outgoing links to the works of others on the following websites: Skye Is The Limit, Very Well, The Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, Psych Central, National Public Radio, Career Rocketeer, and the National Institutes of Health.