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Welcome to Job Search Stress Busters!

Let’s face it, the job search can leave the most zen among us bug-eyed with stress. On the pages of this blog you’ll find insights and ideas for both quick ways to reduce stress and how to manage stress in the bigger picture.

For a Whole-Life Stress Management perspective on how this all fits together, including a stress-busting quick plan worksheet, check out the Stress Busting 101 page.

You’ll find posts here on a wide variety of stress-related topics:

Arts
Body awareness
Breathing exercises
Energy / Chi / Prana
Food & drink
Fun & play
Gratitude
Hobbies & activities
Humor & laughter
Making a difference
Meditation & mindfulness
Mind tools
Miscellaneous
Movement & exercise
Nature
Physical environment
Positive mental input
Self-awareness
Self-talk
Spirituality
Stress relief quick tips
Support
Touch

And if you want to go deeper, here are some book and audio suggestions.

Stressed? Try some mindful music listening

If your stress is bubbling up, look no further than your favorite music player for help.

One of the characteristic sources of stress in challenging situations like a job search is the rumination that takes our brains every which way but the present moment. Worries about the future and regrets or resentments about the past can all fuel that constricted feeling of stress.

One excellent way to bring yourself back into the present moment is mindful music listening. This document on using music therapeutically has some good pointers on how to listen to music mindfully.

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Brought to you by
Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Blog: Wild About Work TM

 

Want to beat stress? Get a hobby

When you’re under stress, it’s easy for that feeling to paint your entire world. Every which way you look, life looks stressful.

One way to get out from under the thumb of that feeling is to focus your attention and activity elsewhere. As this post on the 7 benefits of having a hobby points out, hobbies can have a positive impact in multiple ways.

1. Hobbies encourage taking a break.
2. Hobbies promote eustress (a positive kind of stress).
3. Hobbies offer a new challenge.
4. Hobbies unite you with others.
5. Hobbies provide an outlet for stress.
6. Hobbies promote staying present.
7. Hobbies have physical health benefits.

While the post mentions stress only in #5, in reality each of the things it mentions has a stress-reducing effect.

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Brought to you by
Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Want an energized, impactful, heart-based career?
Wild About Work TM

Give yourself a stress innoculation

When it comes down to it, any stress you feel in your job search is all in your mind. And you can use that fact to your advantage.

How? Through an idea called stress innoculation. You can go to the the link for the full process, but the basic idea is identifying a stressful situation, getting into a relaxed and grounded state (through doing a guided meditation, for example), and then visualizing yourself being able to engage in the situation in a positive, effective, low-stress way.

It’s another way to take your mind to the anti-stress gym, giving it a chance to train and develop new ways of experiencing and engaging things that ordinarily stress you.

In a way, it’s similar to the visualization that world-class athletes use to support excelling in their sport.

Experimenting with stress innoculation creates a learning lab in your mind where you can mentally replicate the stress and get more adept at handling it in a way that leaves you calm, rather than adding to the mental chaos.

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Brought to you by
Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Want an energized, impactful, heart-based career?
Wild About Work TM

The “chocolate cure” for stress

Breathing exercises? Excellent for reducing stress. Gratitude? Yep. Fabulous for stress busting.

There is no shortage of tools and techniques for reducing stress, but the one most likely to bring a smile to your face just hearing about it is…drumroll please…chocolate!

A recent clinical trial published online in the Journal of Proteome Research on the stress-reducing benefits of chocolate found more good news for dark chocolate lovers.

“It found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed. Everyone’s favorite treat also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances.”

So as you put together your job search stress management plan, make sure you include some chocolate. Worst case scenario, it has no impact and you get to enjoy the chocolate. Seems pretty low risk to me!

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Brought to you by
Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Want an energized, impactful, heart-based career?
Wild About Work TM

Reduce stress with Gratitude Breathing

A while back I wrote a post about Attitude Breathing, a technique that builds on “heart breathing,” as described in HeartMath’s Quick Coherence Technique.

In Attitude breathing, you imagine you’re breathing in and out of your heart. As you do, you focus on a positive feeling or attitude.

A few months ago, riffing off of the Attitude Breathing idea, I started playing with what I describe as Gratitude Breathing. Built around heart breathing, it incorporates an interactive focus on what you’re thankful for.

Interactive?

Here’s what I mean. Instead of just feeling grateful, I also incorporate an active receptiveness to the gift of what I’m grateful for.

So let’s say I’m grateful for this cup of coffee I’m drinking. (which I am!). Here’s how I would approach Gratitude Breathing.

  1. I start focusing on my heart as I breathe. I imagine the breath is coming into and out of my heart. 
  2. I focus on the object of my gratitude (in this case, my coffee).
  3. As I breathe in, I think, “Breathing in the gift.” This is a way to open myself to actively, intentionally open myself to taking in the experience of what I’m grateful for being a gift in my life. 
  4. As I breathe out, I think, “Breathing out my gratitude.” I imagine myself surrounding the object of my appreciation in a cloud/bubble/field of gratitude. 
  5. Breathing in, it starts all over. 

I find this has the effect of both grounding me and deepening my feeling of gratitude.

The objects of your gratitude can be small (like my coffee) or big (like a deeply loving family). The beauty of this is that it really doesn’t matter. The more you actively engage in gratitude, the more it filters into your overall outlook on life (which has a big picture stress reduction effect as well). 

Give it a try. Experiment with it for a week. See how it feels.

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Brought to you by
Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Create an energized, impactful, heart-based career!
Wild About Work TM

Explore your stress with a stress diary/stress journal

Part of managing stress is having a clear understanding of what the stressors in your life are and how you respond to them. One way to get more clarity is keeping a stress diary.

I know, I know. “What’s the source of my stress? Duh! I want a job and I don’t have one!” And on one level that’s absolutely true.

But like so many things in our lives, the stress we feel tends to be the product of multiple things, and play out at multiple levels. So, assuming you don’t have a magic wand you can wave to magically end your job search, it’s worth getting a better picture of what the different pieces of the puzzle are.

Keeping a stress journal is a good way to do that. Simply put, a stress journal (or stress diary, if you prefer to call it that) is a way to look at the sources of stress in your life and your reactions to it. It helps you build a picture over time.

This article on keeping a stress diary offers a good introduction to the idea, as well as a simple stress diary template.

Let go of stress with progressive muscle relaxation meditation

Your body can be a great gateway to stress relief. In this guided meditation, you are taken through a short progressive muscle relaxation meditation. This technique involves tensing and then relaxing various areas of your body, letting your stress flow out of your body each time you relax the tension.

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Brought to you by
Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Love your life. Make a difference.
Ripple Revolution TM

Stress-reducing foods

Your diet can play a huge role in your efforts to manage the stress you feel while you’re in the job search.

At a general level, giving your body the basic nutritional building blocks it needs to thrive has a big impact on your stress levels. At a more specific level, some foods have been found to have stress-reducing properties.

Here’s a slide show that looks at several stress-reducing foods and the effect they have.

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Brought to you by
Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Love your life. Make a difference.
Ripple Revolution TM

Neuroscience-based stress relief tip: Take in the good

Have you ever noticed how much more weight the negative things that happen to us have than positive ones? According to this fascinating article on Taking in the Good, there’s a brain-based reason for that:

“Your brain preferentially scans for, registers, stores, recalls, and reacts to unpleasant experiences; it’s like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones. Consequently, even when positive experiences outnumber negative ones, the pile of negative implicit memories naturally grows faster. Then the background feeling of what it feels like to be you can become undeservedly glum and pessimistic.”

You can see how that might impact how you feel in a stressful situation like a job search. So what’s the solution? According to the article’s author, neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, it’s to “take in the good.”

In a nutshell, that means noticing the good, focusing on it, and turning up the volume on your experience of it. The article outlines a simple three-step approach to taking in the good. And when you do, the benefits can be far-reaching:

“Given the negativity bias of the brain, it takes an active effort to internalize positive experiences and heal negative ones. When you tilt toward what’s positive, you’re actually righting a neurological imbalance…

Focusing on what is wholesome, and then taking it in naturally, increases the positive emotions flowing through your mind each day. Emotions have global effects since they organize the brain as a whole. Consequently…positive emotions don’t just feel good in the moment; over time, they produce far-reaching benefits, including a stronger immune system and a cardiovascular system that is less reactive to stress. Fredrickson has also found other long-term benefits of positive emotions: They lift your mood; increase optimism, resilience, and resourcefulness; and help counteract the effects of painful experiences, including trauma. It’s a positive cycle: Good feelings today increase the likelihood of good feelings tomorrow.”

Give it a try. Experiment for a week with taking in the good. If you like, it, extend the experiment.

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Brought to you by
Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Love your life. Make a difference.
Ripple Revolution TM