Diane, one of our Work It Out coaches, shares an exercise that will help you to start building self-care into your job search routine.
When you are looking for work, self-care can often take a back seat. You may already be juggling numerous other demands on your time and energy such as existing work, study, childcare or other responsibilities. You might be dealing with health issues or money issues. You may have been out of work for a long time or you may be trying to move from one job to another that is a better fit for you.
With all that already on your plate, self-care can just feel like one more thing on your to do list.
What is self-care?
Let’s start by defining what self-care actually is. Self-care is not pampering or ‘me’ time, though it may form part of it. It is also not collapsing on the couch at the end of the day with a bottle of wine and a family-size block of chocolate as a treat.
Self-care is an attitude, an approach to life that demands enhanced self-awareness and deep self-knowledge. It requires that you really know and trust yourself, and can be honest with yourself about your strengths, as well as your weaknesses. Self-care requires that you challenge yourself and trust yourself to do the right thing by you, because you matter.
Self-care when searching for work
If you want to start the process of building more self-care into your life while you are looking for work, first ask yourself:
‘What would be the best outcome of better self-care for me?’
This is an important question, because it immediately bypasses what society and media tell us that self-care is and encourages you to create your own version of it.
For example, for 1 person, better self-care might mean wanting to feel less stressed and anxious about their job search. When this person asks what the best outcome of self-care would be, they might identify that they want to feel more peace, more serenity and more calm.
Someone else might think:
‘I cannot be bothered to get out of bed, let alone look for a job.’
In this example, the outcome of better self-care might mean that they feel more motivated, more positive and optimistic.
In these examples, the first person wants to calm down, the second wants to rise up. Both are in similar situations, but with very different feelings about the job search process, and therefore very different needs. But what we can see from both is that they have identified how better self-care would make them feel.
Now, take the time to write down what you think the best outcome of better self-care would be for you.
Now that you have identified what the ideal outcome of your self-care will be, ask yourself:
‘How can I create more (insert identified desired outcome) in my life today?’
Think about 1 simple change you can make, just for today, that will help you to feel better.
So, the person who wants more peace might choose to say ‘no’ to a request, switch her phone on silent and give herself an early night.
The person who wants to feel more motivated and optimistic might decide that means taking a 10-minute walk in the fresh air or picking up the phone and calling a friend.
These changes are acts of self-care. It might mean saying ‘no’ to some things so that you can say ‘yes’ to others. It might mean making difficult choices or having challenging conversations with people or it might mean asking for help.
From small changes to a habit
As you develop these little changes into habits, you will start to identify what your ‘go to’ behaviour is in stressful situations like job searching, and ask yourself if this is serving you well? If you decide it is not you can ask yourself what the kinder, more self-compassionate choice would be.
Making 1 small change, just for 1 day, proves to yourself that you can do it. If you stick to the changes you make, you can start to build self-care into your life so it becomes a habit.
So once you have finished reading this blog ask yourself, what would be the ideal outcome of self-care for me, and how can I start to create more of that in my life today?
If you are a young woman aged 18 to 30 living in England and Wales, you can talk to one of our coaches about your job search journey for free.