17 Self-Care Steps for Job Seekers

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Posted April 7, 2019 | Shelly Crane, DO, FAIHM

Hopefully, our job listings and job seeker tools and resources help make looking for a job easier, but in general, finding a job is hard! Writing persuasive cover letters and fine-tuning resumes take a lot of time. Sending out applications day after day, without knowing what the outcome will be, can be draining. Interviews, while exciting, can also be nerve-wracking, and take a lot of energy. Often, it doesn’t feel like anything about the process of finding a job is easy.

Below are 17 steps to create a self-care plan that you can use to help take good care of yourself and feel supported during your job search (or after it, for that matter!).

Creating a self-care plan provides us with the opportunity to consider how we can give ourselves support on both a daily basis, as well as when we are feeling overwhelmed (or discouraged or sad or anything else).

A self-care plan will look different for each of us and can include:

  • Lists of people and things that are helpful to us.
  • A collection of encouraging messages or pictures that we make for ourselves or that others make for us.
  • A physical self-care “treasure box” (with goodies like bath salts, playlists of our favorite songs, silly putty, lotion, special pens for journaling, aromatherapy candles, etc.).

Use the following questions as a brainstorming guide for creating your self-care plan. We’ve added some ideas to get you started, but don’t let that limit you!

  1. What daily/weekly routines are important to maintaining my sense of normalcy? (e.g. flossing daily, sleeping-in on Sunday, exercising, making the bed, watching the game/favorite TV show)
  2. What signs tell me that I might need some additional self-care? (e.g. getting grumpy with others, having trouble sleeping, others asking me if I’m feeling okay, binging on food, alcohol, or Netflix)
  3. Who can I turn to when I need a good listener? (e.g. family member, partner, friend, neighbor, pet)
  4. What activities rejuvenate me? (e.g. walking around the block, doing something nice for someone else, going out to dinner with friends)
  5. What artistic expressions help me to center myself? (e.g. journaling, doodling, singing, dancing)
  6. What physical activities do I enjoy? (e.g. stretching, dancing, playing pick-up sports, biking)
  7. What helps to calm me? (e.g. taking a hot shower, breathing deeply, meditating, praying)
  8. How do I take care of my mental health? (e.g. having a weekly coffee date with a close friend,  making regular appointments with a counselor, joining support groups)
  9. In which clothing/outfits do I feel most comfortable/beautiful/relaxed/empowered?
  10. Where is my favorite place to be when I need time to think, reflect, or center myself spiritually? (e.g. parks, the bike path, certain buildings or rooms)
  11. What books, poems, stories, or blogs inspire me?
  12. What scents/aromas are soothing/invigorating/uplifting to me?
  13. What textures/fabrics/sensations feel good to my skin (cool/warm water, a stress ball, the breeze)
  14.  What images are calming/inspiring/uplifting for me?
  15. What sounds/music helps to center/calm me?
  16. What do I need to hear when I’m overwhelmed, sad, angry, or just plain old grumpy? (e.g. “You’re going to be okay” “Snap out of it!” “One day at a time”)
  17. What do I need to help remind me to care for myself (e.g. daily/weekly “check-in” calendar reminders, sticky notes on the bathroom mirror, having a standing check-in with a buddy)

Now that you’ve taken the time to think about the people, activities, and sensations that help you in different scenarios, it’s time to make a plan.  

  • It can be an “If I feel [insert emotion], then I will [insert action]” plan. 
  • It can be a collection of the things that you’ve identified as helpful to you (e.g. photo of your family, aromatherapy, good luck charm) that you place next to your desk. 
  • It can be as simple as printing this blog post and keeping it a strategic location to help remind you of some things you can do to take care of yourself.

Once you have completed your plan, put it in a safe and easily accessible place. It may be helpful to make copies and put it in several locations (and maybe give a copy of it to a friend who is helpful about reminding you to nurture yourself).

Consult your plan regularly and remember to “check in” with yourself to see if you are feeling well cared for.  If not, now you’ve got a list of personally-tailored resources to help!

Take good care!

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