Preparing to begin a career can often be a time of enormous stress, anxiety, and fear. Some mental health professionals even argue that deciding on a career, networking, and interviewing are the most stressful events that an individual can undertake. Whatever you may be feeling, know that it is normal and ok to feel overwhelmed, confused, scared, or lost during this time. The good news is there are several ways to assist in coping with these feelings, which can lead to a sense of excitement, optimism, and hope when it comes to a job search.
USE THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO YOU
As a student at GW you have so many wonderful resources available to you, not only with your academics, but also with your career search. Professors, staff, and alumni are here to help and know exactly how it feels to begin looking for a job. Have you been utilizing these resources? If you answered no, that is ok, it is never too late to begin. Here is a list of career resources available to you:
SEAS Career Services Center – SEH 2730
Center for Career Services – Marvin Center, Suite 505
Faculty Advisors – Student Services – SEH 2885
Alumni –LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/school/15134815/
Along with these resources there are also numerous career-related events throughout the semester, so be sure to check your email, Handshake, LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter, and the GWU website to keep up-to-date on events on and off campus! The more you network and begin to meet new people, the more relaxed you will become with your career planning and job searches.
PRACTICE RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
One way to ameliorate stress and anxiety when they arise is to practice “square breathing”. Take a deep breath in through your nose counting to five. Hold that breath in for a count of five, and then breath out through your mouth slowly for a count of five. Repeat this pattern five times. By allowing more oxygen to get to your brain you will begin to feel calm and relaxed, which can help you counteract any stress and anxiety you are feeling.
Sometimes feelings of uncertainty and the unknown, like a job interview, can be a cause of unwanted stress and anxiety. Try to find a quiet place, like your bedroom, to begin to visualize and think about how you will conduct yourself during an interview. Often times our minds trick us into thinking negatively all of the time, which heightens our stress. For this activity, you should do the opposite and visualize a positive interview experience. Imagine your friends are interviewing you and how comfortable you feel doing this. Go over in your mind what you would like to say and picture yourself extremely relaxed.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Often our bodies become tense and sore when we are under stress, which can cause discomfort. Progressive body relaxation can be used to help relax both the body and mind. Start by curling your toes and hold them tight for ten seconds before releasing. Follow this by pointing your toes upward leaving your heels planted on the ground – hold this for ten seconds. Next, tighten all of the muscles in your legs for ten seconds and then release. Continue to go up the rest of your body tightening each separate part of the body for ten seconds and then releasing. You should feel a tingling, relaxed feeling throughout your body at the end.
For a more in-depth muscle relaxation technique please follow the link below…
If you are concerned about your level of anxiety or stress and feel the aforementioned coping skills are not enough, please know that you can contact the Mental Health Services Department or the CARE Network for further assistance. You are not alone and the services provided below are here to help!
Exercise is also a proven way to alleviate stress and anxiety. If you can, try to find time to exercise at least 3-5 times a week for an hour. It can be tough to get motived to exercise, but after your workout you will not only have a sense of accomplishment, but you will also be able to think in a calm and relaxed manner.
Good luck as you continue your academic and career endeavors and keep in mind that while this can be a stressful time in your life, it is also a time of immense excitement and new opportunities!
Brian Yeagley, M.Ed is an undergraduate Career Counselor in the SEAS Career Services Center at GWU. If you would like to set up an appointment to meet with Brian to assist you further in working on stress and anxiety management he can be reached at; Byeagley@gwu.edu or you can make an appointment in Handshake.