The job interview went smooth. Or, at least, it did, maybe? (Your laugh wasn't nervous, was it? You definitely regret your pant choice.) Now all you can do is suffer through the waiting period until someone contacts you, right?
Maybe not. As summarized by Business Insider Deutschland, according to work from psychologists Kate Sweeny and Jennifer Howell published in Psychologie Heute, practicing mindfulness might be a simple way to keep all your post-interview stress in check.
The duo asked 240 law students to fill out a questionnaire. This included the Freiberg Mindfulness Inventory, which allowed Sweeny and Howell to figure out which of the law students practiced mindfulness. The second half of the questionnaire instructed the law students to meditate with Loving Kindness Meditation or do mindfulness exercises for 15 minutes at least once a week.
Sweeny and Howell discovered that students who showed more mindful lives weren't as concerned about what the interview result would be. They also didn't prep themselves for a bad result until the waiting period was almost done. Lastly, the second part of the questionnaire showed that students who had the toughest time while waiting felt less stress through mindfulness exercises they were instructed to do.
Why it works
Mindfulness practice covers a whole range of activities. You can focus on your breathing, for example, or you can spend a few minutes journaling. You don't need to buy any special equipment in most cases, and it's easy to squeeze in an activity into a few free minutes through your day.
Whichever activity you choose, the basic idea is that you put your attention to yourself and your environment in a present-based way. Because you're concentrating on the here and now, you stop yourself from worrying about things that have happened, or that have yet to happen. This helps you stay relaxed and happy.
Your present is now, not yesterday or tomorrow
Now, as the study shows, in the case of something like a job interview, there is a time when you have to bring an event back into your thoughts because you need to form a logistical, practical plan for what to do next. The students didn't ignore the upcoming results completely. But mindfulness simply means that, until that point comes, ruminating on what could go wrong doesn't offer much, if any, benefit. After all, the hiring manager won't call you any sooner just because you're losing sleep at night. You're better off consciously directing your mental and physical energy elsewhere so you can stay healthy and productive. What could you potentially think up, for instance, if you were focused on a project instead of consumed with anxiety?
While this study focused on interviews, the results suggest that mindfulness is something you can apply to tons of different situations. For instance, what if you're waiting to hear back from an investor or loan officer? What about getting the results of a formal audit? Or maybe you're worried about getting enough freelance clients for the coming month. Whatever it is, the lesson here is that, if you're not at a point where you can plan for the worst, or if you've already made that plan, use mindfulness practice to set the issue aside. Live your life. Find gratitude and be amazed. Tomorrow isn't here yet, and your most important job is to give all you can to the day you have.