It might be a relief that this crazy year is coming to an end. But if you’re looking for work, you may find it hard to feel the festive cheer. There’s the challenges of the current job market, managing the social events and financial pressures that come with the holidays, not to mention being surrounded by people unwinding and relaxing.

Alison Williams is Practice Development Manager at Mind Australia. She knows a thing or two on how to keep your mental health in check.

Mind Australia is one of the country’s leading community-managed specialist mental health service providers. They’ve been supporting people dealing with the day-to-day impacts of mental illness, as well as their families, friends and carers for over 40 years.

How can I stay motivated in my job search when everyone around me seems to be winding down and relaxing?

If everybody else is winding down and relaxing, it may be a time for you to think about giving yourself a break, too. Set a few small, achievable goals for your job search, and then when you feel like you’ve achieved them, take a step back. For example, you might set a goal over the Christmas period to apply for five jobs in one week. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to give yourself permission to take a little break. Use that break to recharge, reset and reflect on all the great work that you’ve put into your job search so far.

Be kind to yourself and acknowledge your strengths, the positives and the things that you’ve already done to get to this point.

It’s also a good idea to focus on something else during this time. When you’re putting all your focus on one thing, like ‘am I getting a job?’, you lose sight of the bigger picture. Try focusing on something else that you’re interested in – like learning a new skill, taking a short course online, or reading a book. This will help you add to your resume or without feeling like you’re focusing only on finding a job.

I’m feeling anxious about there being hardly any jobs to apply for over the holidays, how do I manage that?

We often get anxious about things that we have very little power over. As a job seeker, you have no power over the year that we’ve had, of the reduction in job availability, of the fact that we’re coming up to Christmas and naturally there are going to be less jobs advertised. So, try and think about all these things a different way. For example, rather than thinking about there not being many jobs out there, think about what you can do differently.

Try and use the time a bit more effectively on yourself. Invest in your own self-care. Give yourself that power and energy to get ready for 2021. You’ll be more ready to address the year ahead and your job search.

There’s four key areas to look at to look after yourself:

  • Think about healthy sleep, because when you’re anxious, sleep tends to get impacted. What can you do to invest in having better sleep and rest for yourself?
  • Think about nutrition, because what you put in your body is important.
  • Think about movement, because as we know, when you’re looking for a job you can be quite stagnant. Framing it as ‘movement’ and not exercise can be helpful, because often exercise is another job in itself.
  • Think about connection, because it can be quite an isolating time when you’re looking for a job. Try and get some of meaningful connections with friends or family going again.

How can I stay upbeat when I keep getting rejected by employers?

It can be really hard to stay upbeat, so first up, acknowledge that it’s hard. Nobody gets rejected from anything and goes, ‘woo hoo!’. Allow yourself that time to feel a bit downbeat because it’s not nice. But don’t let it last – put a timeframe on it. And then try and use it as a learning opportunity. Go back to the person who’s rejected you and ask for some feedback. Ask what you did well, what you could do better and what you need to do to get to the next step.

And again, go back to your self-care plan. Think about what helps perk you up a bit when you’re feeling down. It could be as simple as having a hot bath. It could be meditation. It could be going for a walk, spending time with the dog. Everyone is different, so do what works for you.

I haven’t much money to celebrate over the holidays, how can I still connect with people?

Some ideas on how to reduce the need to spend money over the holidays include:

  • Meet in places where you don’t need to spend money. Meeting at the beach or park, going for a walk or being open to inviting people into your place is a great way to stay connected. If you invite people to your place, get everybody bring a plate of food so you can share that cost.
  • Make your time spent together the gift, instead of purchasing presents. That way, you’re still getting that connection with family and friends.
  • Set a limit on the cost of the gifts if you want to do presents. People are very creative in what they can buy for a small amount and having a dollar limit adds a real element of fun to the whole occasion.
  • Try a Secret Santa. So if you’ve got a group of five friends, you’re not purchasing five things, you’re just buy one gift, for one person. Don’t forget to agree on a price limit, too.
  • Pick up the phone instead of sending a text message. What better gift than having a good proper chat with your loved ones, especially after this year of much isolation.

How do I manage conversations with my family about why I’m unemployed?

At Mind, we always say you are more than a mental illness. There’s a lot more to you. And so in the same vein, can you focus your attention on thinking you are more than a person who is unemployed? Being unemployed does not define you. Think about what else comes with you as a person? Things that you love to do, this things that you love to read, those things that you love to watch on TV. Maybe there’s hobbies that you have, there’s crafts that you like to do. You’ve got dreams and you’ve got goals. Try and talk about those rather than the fact that you’re looking for a job.

If you’re uncomfortable, try to take the focus off you and put it back on the person you’re talking to. Ask them questions about themselves that they’re not afraid to talk about. It’s a great way to learn more about your friends and family.

I’m really struggling. Who can I reach out to?

  • Your support team – whether that’s friends and family, or your clinical support team.
  • Your doctor – who can refer you to an appropriate mental health service if you’re not already connected to one.
  • Lifeline (13 11 14) – For anyone having a personal crisis, or for when you just need to talk to someone.
  • Emergency/Dial triple zero (000) – If you’re feeling not great at all, go to the emergency department at your closest hospital. There will always be somebody there to listen. And if it’s even worse than being able to come out of the house, phone 000.

Want to know more?

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