Job Search Rx: How to Stay Healthy
By Melissa Suey, Career and Leadership Coach, RedSkyLeadership.com
Part one in a series of two articles
Whether you've lost your job or you are looking to leave your current job to find a better one, it's safe to say there are many stressors you may face, including: adapting to change, financial concerns, self-doubt, frustration and feeling overwhelmed, just to name a few. But before your stress levels peak and get in the way of what you really want, stop for a moment and consider what you can do about it.
Have you ever heard that it is important to combat stress? Of course you have! You've probably also heard that it is especially important to take care of yourself while in a stressful situation like a job search. With good health, you can maintain your stamina and improve your mood. Not only is this outcome good for you personally, these are two appealing qualities to prospective employers.
Exercise has some robust stress-reducing benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, an average healthy adult should be performing moderate aerobic activity (i.e. brisk walking or swimming) for at least 150 minutes per week (which averages out to about 22 minutes per day), and then progress to more vigorous activity as one becomes more fit. According to a recent JobsInDE.com poll, more than 80 percent of our respondents participated in some form of exercise the previous day, with about half meeting the recommended daily amount.
Your Body: Stressed Out
"Stress is an increase in pressure on the whole body as an organism," says Dr. Shawn Shapiro of Port City Chiro in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. "When you are under the belief that your survival is threatened (for example, when you lose your job, or are in the fight of your life for the job you want), you release hormones that help you deal with actions you would have to take if you were in real danger. The constant stress of a job search keeps recreating these survival instincts and hormonal releases, and the glands, the muscles and the organs involved start to wear down and don't perform as well as they used to."
Doctor's Rx: Free and Simple
So what does the doctor recommend? It's actually something very simple and won't cost you a penny: BREATHE.
"When we are in a constant state of stress, we become more acidic," says Shapiro. "Think 5th grade science class and the litmus paper that turned color. Being in an acidic state is very unhealthy. It causes inflammation and allows viruses and bacteria to take hold of different parts of our bodies at the cellular level."
According to Dr. Shapiro, taking quality breaths increases our pH, which means we won't be inflamed and our immune system won't be so appealing to those nasty microorganisms and viruses.
Shapiro says you don't need to join an ashram, build a meditation room or learn a complicated mantra to stop everything you're doing and just breathe. All you need is a few minutes of quiet, a couple of times per day, to essentially hit the reset button on your body.
The next time you notice yourself feeling anxious or frustrated, stop and take a full breath. As you increase your awareness, the goal is not only to do this at times when you are feeling the most stress, but to be proactive, so you are better able to process new stressors as they arrive.
Have you ever wondered how your healthy (or unhealthy) image can affect a potential employer's perspective of you? Next month, we will talk about that.
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Melissa Suey is a career and leadership coach and trainer who specializes in helping people find and stay engaged in work that is meaningful to them. She partners with successful people who want more from their work and their lives through individual coaching, as well as interactive training and engaging presentations. Melissa is Manager of Talent Management for Delhaize America, Hannaford's parent company and has consulted for JobsInTheUS.com, Monster.com and the Maine Department of Labor. She completed her professional coach training with the highly acclaimed Coaches Training Institute in San Rafael, California. Melissa is a member of the International Coach Federation and is past Vice President of Operations for the American Society for Training and Development, Maine Chapter.