How to Handle Career Anxiety

Career Anxiety Blog

When your friends post on social media about getting dream jobs, moving out of state, and starting new lives, it’s easy for doubts to creep in when you compare your situation to theirs. Even if you’re sure of your path and career, you may feel anxious when you look at their curated lives and wonder about your ability to measure up.

If moments like this cause you to struggle with anxiety, you’re not alone.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. and affect 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or about 18.1% of the population, every year. And millennials are 30% more likely than older generations to report that they experience anxiety.

Anxiety is a normal body response. It’s meant to protect us and warn us about danger. It keeps us on edge so we can be more alert. But when we experience prolonged anxiety, it becomes detrimental to your rest, your physical health, and your overall outlook on life.

What is Career Anxiety?

Career anxiety is a specific type of anxiety that can be experienced at any stage of your professional life — not just during a job search. Even the

career anxiety

most seasoned and qualified professionals struggle with career-related insecurity. Career anxiety can be triggered in many ways. If you find yourself questioning yourself or your abilities, worrying that you’re not making enough money, or stressing about your general career path, you could be suffering from career anxiety.

 

How to Cope with Career Anxiety

If you begin to feel career anxiety in your own life, here are some coping strategies to help you through it.

  1. Be aware – It’s easy to feed into the negative narrative of our lives, but it’s not beneficial to our mental health. Take some time to think about your journey and your accomplishments. List and affirm your personal and professional strengths. Know that you’re on your own path, and honor the progress you’ve made so far. When you are feeling overwhelmed, go to a quiet place, close your eyes, and take some deep breaths.
  2. Talk to a friend – Friendship can play a key role in helping someone live with or recover from a mental health problem, and overcome the isolation that often comes with it. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can help rebuild your confidence, break the cycle of repetitive negative thoughts, and give you a different perspective. Tell your friend how you’re feeling and how they can best support you. Ask them for practical advice, or tell them you need an empathetic ear. Friends and family are part of your support system and leaning on them can help you feel less stressed and anxious.
  3. Exercise – Regular exercise improves your self-esteem and relieves anxiety and depression. You don’t need to put yourself through rigorous activities to feel the benefits of exercise. Psychologists suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout. If you begin to feel career anxiety sneaking up on you, take a break. Go for a walk, take your yoga mat outside, do some outdoor photography, or play with your pet. Read our blog for more on exercise ideas and how to stay active.
  4. Self-care – Take time out of your day for “me time”. If you’ve never really thought about intentional “me time,” it can be difficult to know where to start. At its core, it’s just a designated time for you to do whatever you want. It can be as simple as taking a bath, reading a book, exercising, listening to a great playlist, or cooking your favorite meal – anything that helps you relax and unwind. This is also a great time to learn a new hobby or practice – think of it as an investment in your future. There are no rules for how you spend your “me time.”
  5. Take a break from social media – So
    cial media brings us together, but consuming too much can contribute to your anxiety. It’s easy to compare our lives with those of the people we see on social media, and this can feed negative thoughts. While it’s great to be happy for and celebrate others’ accomplishments, we shouldn’t do so to our own detriment. If scrolling through your newsfeed is making you feel more depressed than happy, then it’s probably time to take a break. If you need help, there are various apps that can help you limit your time on social media.  

 

Career anxiety

These are a few techniques you can start to practice today. However, if your anxiety is affecting your life on or off the job, you might benefit from more support. The Bougainvilla House teaches essential coping methods to help children, teens, and young adults manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We offer a variety of programs that fit your needs, such as individual and group therapy sessions as well as intensive outpatient programs.

Treating your anxiety with a professional can reduce or eliminate symptoms over time, and many patients notice improvements after just a few sessions. It’s okay to admit you need help, and to reach out.  If you would like to get started, please schedule your free screening here.  

Making and Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

new year's resolutions

The New Year’s resolution: love it or hate it, it’s a time-honored way to start fresh with new goals for a new year. However, we all know how difficult it can be to stick to those resolutions by the time February rolls around. It is no easier for your child than it is for you.

Age-appropriate New Year’s Resolutions

Should your child set New Year’s resolutions?  Yes, but they need to be achievable and age-appropriate. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that preschoolers focus on specific ‘helping’ goals like picking up toys each day; ‘health’ goals like washing hands, or ‘social’ goals such as sharing toys with friends.

The AAP says children ages 5-12 can understand and tackle specific goals, from improving health and study habits, to speaking up if they see or experience bullying. Teens 13 and up can set goals that encourage them to take responsibility for their choices and actions, e.g. volunteering more, self-care, family responsibilities, academics, and use of leisure time.

Take Time To Reflect

Start by having a reflective, open discussion with your child about the previous year. What did they enjoy? What gave them a sense of accomplishment? What attitudes, actions or habits would they like to improve – or leave behind? Is there anything that they didn’t get the chance to explore? Talk about areas where you, as parent, feel some goal-setting would help, and encourage these to become your child’s goals as well as yours.

Listen and work with your child to choose just a few important resolutions.  Then give your child the best chance to succeed by framing SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, time-bound) goals. Make sure they understand what these goals will require of them, and that you’ll be there to encourage them every step of the way.

Which New Year’s Resolutions Are On Your Child’s List?

Resolutions are as unique as your child. He or she may want to focus on any of the following areas – or they may have completely different ideas about what matters!

Make Friends

If your child’s ultimate goal is to make friends, help them to set smaller goals such as ‘talking to two new people a month’ or ‘planning one Zoom hangout a month’.

Earn Better Grades

If your child has been struggling with schoolwork, help them set specific goals, such as earning one letter grade better on tests. From there, create a game plan, such as studying for an hour per day for a week leading up to each test. As well, your child’s teacher might have insights that will help your child succeed in his or her academic goals.

Eat Healthier

NYE Resolutions

Healthy eating goals are well worth pursuing, with benefits that include controlling weight, preventing disease, improving mood, and more. If your child wants to eat healthier, help them set SMART goals; e.g. eating one cup of vegetables three times a week for a month. This diet change helps your child shift toward healthier eating practices, but sets a time limit for trying it out. At the end of the month, evaluate this approach with your child, and decide how to continue. Bon appetit!

Read More

If you and your child set a goal to read more in the coming year, think about quantifying it (for example, ‘read 12 books in 2021’) and plan to make a monthly trip to the library or bookstore. Remember to consult your librarians or bookstore staff for enticing titles that appeal to your child’s reading preferences and level.

Save Money

If your child has a job or an allowance, it’s never too early to start teaching them the value of saving a little for the future. The general rule of thumb is to save 20% of a paycheck: this might be achievable for your child if they don’t need to help with other expenses. Another approach might involve saving a certain amount of money by year’s end. Those first big purchases like cell phones, cars and college aren’t far away, so teaching your child the patience to save now will pay off all their lives.

Tips for sticking to New Year’s Resolutions

Do it together (if possible). Consider making family resolutions. If your child’s goal is something that would benefit everyone, like exercising, reading more, or eating more healthy foods, make it a family goal. Not only is it a great bonding opportunity, you’re increasing your child’s chances of successstick to your NYE resolutions and doing something that’s good for all of you. Some families might enjoy setting up a competition, but keep it healthy and never force anyone to compete if they don’t enjoy it.

Be flexible. Even with specific milestones to achieve, life can get in the way. If your child doesn’t meet his or her monthly goal, don’t make an issue of it. Do encourage them to keep right on trying. If you’re too strict or show too much disappointment, your child may not want to continue, so keep it positive and focused on ‘next time’.

Don’t nag them. Of course you want your child to succeed and to know the satisfaction that comes from achieving their goals. However, putting the work in to meet that goal is ultimately up to your child. No amount of pestering will make them achieve it faster and in fact, too much pressure will make them resent the process.

Be ready to adapt. Be comforting, empathetic and supportive, both when they succeed and especially when they don’t. If your child is having trouble making progress, think about whether the goal should change. You’ll only know by checking in with your child. If motivation is the issue, think about little incentives that could encourage them: e.g. for each book read, they get to pick the dinner menu. Be creative and always communicate with your child.

If you and your child need a break, visit our Take a Break page or sign up for one of our fun and free Wellness Wednesday Webinars.  Good luck!