Stress during a job search may affect your mental health. During Mental Health Month, we look at tips to help you manage stress and stay healthy while you begin or continue your job search.

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Mental Health Month: Managing Stress During Your Job Search

May 18, 2017

If you've ever looked for a job, you know it takes a lot of preparation. You scan job sites, go to career fairs, fill out applications, prepare a resume, write cover letters, contact employers, do interviews, and wait for a phone call to find out if you got the job. All of this takes a lot of effort and can be very stressful. In May we recognize Mental Health Month, a good time to learn tips to deal with stress during your job search.

Stress and mental health

The job hunting process produces many sources of stress. Simply the amount of time, effort and thought that goes into job hunting creates stress. Maybe it's the interview process. Maybe it's the fear of rejection or the excitement of getting a job offer and starting to work.

Stress affects us all; but if you have a mental illness, you may find it more difficult to handle stressful situations. When you have stress, your body releases hormones that can affect your mood. It can even increase symptoms of mental illnesses, including depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

To counteract the potential harm caused by stress, learn how to recognize stress in your life. Start practicing stress management techniques to stay healthy. Talk to your doctor to help you identify the problems stress causes for you. Let your doctor know if you are having a hard time sleeping, feel depressed, get easily angered or upset, or feel excessively tired.

Managing stress on your career path

Looking for a job, transitioning to the workplace and managing your workload can all cause stress. If you're considering looking for work or returning to work, learn more about stress management techniques.

  • Make a plan. Diving into a new journey can be exciting, but breaking the journey up into smaller pieces will help you stay on track. When looking for a job, research your career goals, look for job openings, write a resume and cover letter, then send out applications. A timeline can help you stay on task and help it feel less overwhelming.
  • Take care of yourself. When things are stressful, it's easy to forget what's important. Even when you have a lot on your mind and on your to-do list, you need to make sure to take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, sticking to any medication routines, and getting enough sleep. When you feel your best, your mind and body are better able to take on new tasks, like transitioning to work.
  • Ask for help. Things don't always go as planned. It's okay to reach out to friends, family and others to make sure you're on the right track and achieving your goals. When you're looking for jobs, an Employment Network (EN) can help you identify your job skills and find open positions. Friends and family can help you write your resume and check your spelling and grammar.
  • Take a break. When you're taking on a lot of tasks or dealing with change, it can feel like you have no time for yourself. Stepping back from sources of stress for a little while can help you relax and approach your to-do list or problems with a new point of view. You may even come up with new solutions to the problem once you've allowed yourself to stop thinking about them and to enjoy another activity.

Additional resources

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work.

The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket program, visit www.ssa.gov/work. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.