A short list of what makes the season wonderful might include: time with loved ones, displays of holiday cheer and generosity, end-of-year reflections and upcoming resolutions… add your favorite aspects as you like.
So, what makes the holiday season challenging?Often, it’s a similar (or even the same) list.
It can be tough to keep one’s head high as we pass through the end of the year and into the next. The Holiday Blues exist. It’s a recurring trope in film and music because people relate to the feeling year after year.
When job insecurity of one sort or another is added into the mix, certain aspects of holiday stress are especially triggering. Maybe it’s seeing money flowing out with little coming in. It could be dreading interactions with people who will have opinions about your jobsearch. Maybe you just don’t feel like smiling, and it seems like the celebratory spirit in the air has stolen all the available oxygen.
In a previous article, I quoted career coach Dr. Marcia LaReau: “The hardest part of the job search is managing the mental traffic.”
This article explores this notion a bit deeper. I hope it provides encouragement to jobseekers who are working through the next couple weeks and into the New Year.
Here’s a shout out to some of the things I am finding helpful to manage my own headspace.
GratitudeI am healthy and safe this holiday season, with family and friends to visit, both in person and over phone and email. I’m very grateful. My reasons to be thankful don’t stop there, but just this starting point is something to celebrate by itself. And I plan to!
An online search of “Gratitude and Stress Relief” can provide plenty of evidence for the positive effect gratitude can have on one’s day-to-day life. Here’s a representative selection from psychologytoday.com.
Please don’t be turned off by the seeming simplicity. Stress and anxiety can spin in our minds to form a whirlpool or worry, and soon enough, even the good things in our life get sucked in. Gratitude will get your head spinning, too, but in a mentally healthy direction.
Getting Out: People and EventsLooking for work can be an isolating experience. A seeker told me the other day,
“I have great support: mentors, family, and friends, but the [job] hunt is mine alone.”Most professional work is collaborative in some way. I’m a writer with a philosophy degree—we are not the most social of butterflies, in general—but even in the most solitary jobs, I am reporting to someone, communicating with subject matter experts, or fitting my piece of a project puzzle together with the work of the rest of a creative team.
Working at finding a job is very different. So much of what we do is self-focused and without feedback. Rejection emails don’t make us feel connected.
The holidays often present opportunities to reconnect with family, friends, and former colleagues. As I’ll point out in a moment, it isn’t always easy to connect, but it is crucial for mental and emotional health.
By taking advantage of holiday events, I open myself up to having someone say something beautiful or encouraging to me. Maybe a reconnection will turn into a key personal reference, or someone will reveal that they are or have been in a similar place that I am.
Graciousness and RedirectionOf course, conversations won’t always be perfect and affirming. There can be landmines to navigate and comments that nick at the places where I’m vulnerable.
These include questions about my search, well-intended encouragements that, in practice, do more to accentuate the sting of rejections than assuage the hurt. And of course, the ever-present questionable advice–given where it has not been solicited.
Graciousness and redirection are my saviors, here. To avoid interactions turning negative, I try to do the following:
- Assume the best of people and let unhelpful comments go.
- Redirect conversations to topics and opportunities that excite me.
- End conversations that are turning negative:
Use the restroom,
…refresh my drink,
…or be bold and speak plainly: “Let’s talk about something else; I’m on a break from job-talk tonight.”
Getting HelpInterviewing and hiring may slow down for many industries during the holidays. But don’t give up! There is so much you can do to be ready for the New Year!
I have found an incredible resource with Forward Motion, a company that helps jobseekers and people wanting to advance their careers. This holiday season is a perfect time to regroup and get help where you need it. Your situation is unique and private. Use our Contact Us form, which will guide you to give Dr. LaReau initial information to schedule a call and learn more.
The form goes directly to Dr. LaReau and is confidential. Reaching out comes at no cost to you. She will respond with a potential quote for services and you can decide how or if you want to move forward.
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