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5 Hacks to stress less and stay sane while job hunting

It is a stressful time if you are in the market for a new role. We take a look at five ways you can keep on top of stress and hold on to your sanity while job hunting.

With fewer job opportunities and redundancies happening throughout the country, the stress-inducing job hunt grind is becoming a reality for many of us.  Over the past year, the NZ IT industry has seen a whopping 39% decrease in IT job ad volume (SEEK May 2024 dashboard) and applications per job are sky rocketing.

During this time, you may feel overwhelmed or struggle to focus on what matters. Carrying the weight of submitting CVs, endless meetings, and potential financial instability on your shoulders can make it difficult to cope. Or on the flipside – maybe you’re not on the job hunt train but left behind at the station with less people on your team, double the workload, and triple the stress.

As we all know, stress can be debilitating and affect every aspect of life and managing your stress and maintaining mental fitness are crucial, especially if you work in tech where things are always on the move. To help you navigate these choppy waters we have put together a list of five effective stress busting hacks that has proven results.

1. Make mindfulness a priority 

Wouldn’t it be nice to get out of your own head for a bit, especially before that important interview or a big project meeting? Well, practising mindfulness does just that.

It can sound a bit ‘airy fairy’, but mindfulness is really about focusing on the physical, and it’s easier to do than you might think. Plenty of research backs it as an effective stress buster that improves overall well-being.

Take five or ten minutes to calm down your stress response:

  • Practise deep breathing. We tend to take shallow breaths when stressed. Taking deep breaths from the diaphragm calms the nervous system and lowers the stress response. Box breathing, a 4-4-4-4 pattern of inhale, hold, exhale, hold, is a simple yet powerful technique to reduce stress.
  • Focus your awareness on your five senses and what’s around you: taste, smell, hearing, touch, sight. What can you see? How does the ground feel under your feet? What sounds can you hear? What can you smell or what taste is in your mouth? Take a few minutes to intentionally explore your sensory environment.

These actions pull your attention to the present, enabling you to clear your head and bring you back to earth.

2. Hello, it’s me

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that humans need connection.

Connecting to others can help to take some of the weight off and put things into perspective. Sometimes, we just need someone to have a good laugh with.

It may not always be the easiest thing to reach out to others when you need a hand, but a conversation with a trusted friend or family member can often be the encouragement you need to keep moving forward.

Take that first step to connect:

  • Pick up the phone, reach out to friends and family to have a chat. As the saying goes, a burden shared is a burden halved. Whether it’s a quick call or a long conversation, connecting with loved ones can lift your spirits.
  • You’re usually not the only person experiencing these challenges, so connect with others who understand what you’re going through. Online forums can be a great place to find support and share your experiences.

3. Walk it off to shake it off

Exercise is one of the best ways to get rid of all those stress hormones in your body. It increases endorphins which are great for the soul, body, and mind. Who doesn’t want a free natural pain reliever that lowers stress levels and increases general mood? It doesn’t have to be a marathon, but try incorporating these:

  • Go on a daily walk to clear your head and get outside. Even 20 minutes of moderate-pace walking can release endorphins, leaving you feeling refreshed.
  • Stress makes our muscles tens up, so try to incorporate stretching into your day. Stretching can help relax the muscles often tight from stress and it also boosts serotonin levels, the body’s stress-busting hormone.

Our own Isabella Johnstone emphasises the role running plays in staying mentally fit, “My outlet is running with a podcast or some loud music. I just switch off and get those endorphins.”

4. Stress less with self-care

In times of stress, it’s easy to end up neglecting yourself in ways you usually wouldn’t. Self-care can look different for everybody, but the reason for it remains the same – to maintain your well-being and keep mentally fit.

So, what does self-care look like? It might include: 

  • Taking time to separate your work and home life – dedicate time to decompress from the trials and tribulations of the day. This could be a walk in nature, listening to a good podcast on your commute, having a relaxing bath or just dancing it out in the kitchen.
  • Focusing on eating a balanced diet – consuming veggies, fruit, and protein to fuel your body and mind.
  • Give your brain something fun to focus on – try a new hobby or put time into an old hobby, read a few chapters of a new book or get outside and do some gardening.

5. Celebrate the positives

Celebrate the little things. A small win is still a win. Research shows that positive thinking helps us to manage stress and enhance our resilience. Positive thinkers tend to cope better with stress because they focus on solutions and seek help when needed, rather than dwelling on problems. This approach not only helps you to manage immediate stress but also fosters long-term resilience as it helps you build a mindset better equipped to tackle future challenges​.

Finding positivity when life is giving you lemons is not always easy, try:

  • Jotting down three positives from the week or day – it could be anything that made the day a bit better or that brought you joy.
  • Each week write down one thing you’re doing well, reaffirm this in your mind.
  • Take time to reflect on your resilience: you’ve made it through every bad thing you’ve been faced with in the past, and you’ll make it through this too.

In conclusion, we hope you find that by incorporating these stress-hacks into your life you can navigate these stressful times a little better. You got this, and as the saying goes ‘this too shall pass’.

Resources
  • Check out Groov’s useful 6 pillars of wellbeing framework
  • Check out this helpful guide on stress and how to manage it
  • Want to get stretching? This excellent article has great daily stretches and information.

If you’re struggling at the moment and need more advice on mental health or guidance on where you can go to seek help, visit the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

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