Leaving the military and looking for a civilian job is likely going to bring about the most change and uncertainty that you’ve had to deal with in quite a while. Even though military life is full of assignment changes and moves, there’s a certain stability and comfort in knowing that you’re employed, you have a support network, and you’re getting a regular paycheck. When searching for a job, the level of stress you experience is likely to increase.
When you begin to feel stressed about your job search, remember that stress is just a mismatch between the demands of life compared with the resources available. Positive stress can help you concentrate, focus, and perform, and often will be the catalyst for helping you achieve peak efficiency. Of course, not everyone works well under pressure, but coming from the military, it’s safe to say that you’ve had your fair share of dealing under significant amounts of pressure and stress.
Stress can become a negative impact on life when it’s impossible to unwind after stressful moments. This can occur if you’re consistently wound up, tightly strung, or in a heightened state of anxiety. Negative stress has been linked to physical ailments and a lack of mental cognition. In leaving the military, you might experience internal conflicts relating to a loss of identity, self-esteem, or control. These are all very normal responses and if managed appropriately, can serve as a positive growth factor in your progression into civilian life.
Learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and employing tactics to help you be less overwhelmed will not only help improve your quality of life but will also ensure that your job search doesn’t get derailed.
To minimize future stress, approach problems as challenges and opportunities for growth. Start by identifying your primary goals and objectives and then break those down into manageable challenges. If you work toward overcoming these challenges every day and every week, your stressors will soon become less impacting and difficult.
It’s important to maintain relationships, attend community events, and create routines that were similar to your life in the military. This will help mitigate the “overwhelm factor” as you transition out of the military and into civilian life. For example, continuing to get up at the same time of day and engaging in physical activity will be helpful in making sure that you’re stress levels stay low as you continue your job search.
Even if you’re not attending networking events or going on an interview, dressing in professional clothes can also be one way to manage stress. When you see yourself as a professional, then you’ll exhibit that confidence throughout your day.
Developing a personal stress management plan is paramount to effectively coping with the challenges that will likely come from seeking employment. Recognize stressors surround your job search and personal life and try to identify the feelings you experience when you feel stressed. Seek out alternative ways to handle the stress when you start to feel the challenges of finding a job, and return to those methods any time you begin to feel overwhelmed. This will help you begin to feel a sense of relief and will consistently feel more and more in control of your life.
Developing and maintain support systems will be an integral part to living as stress-free as possible. By surrounding yourself with positive people, their enthusiasm will undoubtedly rub off onto you.
There’s no denying that transitioning from the military to the civilian sector isn’t challenging. It’s likely one of the most difficult things you’re ever going to do. By having a good plan in place to deal with life when it feels like things are overwhelming, you’ll be better poised to lead a successful civilian life.