depressed man sat at a table looking at a laptop

Managing your mental health while job hunting

Whether you have recently lost your job or have been looking for a long time, job hunting can be stressful – especially if you need to find work quickly for financial reasons.

But when you’re looking for a job, it’s important to look after your mental health.


“Job hunting requires a lot of energy and a positive frame of mind.”


To maintain momentum and give yourself the best possible chance of making a strong first impression, take extra care of your mental wellbeing.


Look after your physical health

Importantly, you can’t look after your mental health if you don’t also take care of your physical health.

Support your physical and mental health by eating a healthy diet, reducing processed foods, exercising regularly, reducing alcohol and stimulants, and getting enough sleep.

During periods of stress, it’s easy to let healthy habits slip. But making an effort to keep physically healthy will help improve your mood and reduce stress.


Maintain your social connections

Loneliness is linked with poor mental health outcomes, so it’s important to maintain your social connections if you’re job hunting and feeling down or stressed.

If you feel comfortable talking about your job search, share your thoughts and feelings with your connections, including friends and family. But if your job hunt is too consuming, ask your connections to distract you by talking about other topics.

Keep in regular contact with your connections, as these conversations will support your mental health and help to improve your mood.


Take time out to do activities you enjoy

While job hunting is your priority right now, it shouldn’t take over your life. Don’t forget to spend time on the activities and hobbies you enjoy, and don’t feel guilty for doing so. You don’t have to spend every moment in front of the computer looking for work or replying to job ads. In fact, not taking enough breaks could cause you to burn out.

Downtime is important for your mental health and doing activities you enjoy will help you feel more optimistic – which in turn can positively influence your job applications.


Establish a routine

A daily routine can maintain momentum when you start to feel like it’s all too hard. Incorporate your job hunt into your daily routine.

If you’re already working, set aside a regular time in the evenings or on the weekends to look for jobs. If you’re not working, develop a daily routine with a set time to job hunt.

Define your tasks – for example, updating your CV, searching for jobs, writing applications. Ticking off the items you complete will give you a sense of achievement and fulfilment, helping to keep you motivated and encouraged.

It’s important to schedule time in your routine for self-care, social connection and maintaining your physical health, too.


Develop strategies to stay positive

While you know the importance of staying hopeful, it’s not always easy to maintain a positive frame of mind. You may need to work on some strategies for positive thinking, especially if you have been job hunting for a while.

Have strategies ready if your job application gets rejected, you don’t hear back from a job posting or there are no suitable jobs.

Examples of strategies to stay positive include practising gratitude, journaling, positive self-talk and surrounding yourself with positive people.


Where to get help

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you’re looking for work but taking proactive steps to look after your mental health will help you to stay enthusiastic, motivated, focused and healthy during your job search.


If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, MensLine is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us on 1300 78 99 78 or access online counselling.

If it is an emergency, call 000.