Many Graduates Struggle With Their Mental Health
We spend most of our young lives in school. We enter kindergarten when we are about five years old, and many of us don’t finish school until we reach our early to mid-20s when we graduate from college. While some people go on to get their masters or doctorate, most people are content finishing with their bachelor’s degree.
Graduating from college is a significant milestone in life. People spend years of hard work and dedication working towards earning their diplomas. It’s a time for celebrating your accomplishments with friends and family. However, once the celebrations are done, reality sets in. You’ve graduated, and becoming a graduate comes with a lot of expectations. Whether you like it or not, you are expected to become a functioning member of society now. This moment is everything you’ve been working towards all these years, but it doesn’t feel right. If this applies to you, you aren’t alone. Many recent graduates experience post-graduation depression.
Now that you’ve graduated college, you may be asking yourself: “now what?” It’s a common question to ask. Up until this point, you’ve received quite a bit of help and support, and now you are expected to do it on your own. All of the fun times in college are over, and the stress of adulthood has been squarely placed on your shoulders. Lifeworks Counseling Center understands that graduating college is a significant life change, so it’s natural to experience some challenges. We are here to discuss some of these challenges with you and what you can do to help.
What is Post-Graduation Depression?
Post-graduation depression is not an official diagnosis or mental health disorder in the traditional sense, such as clinical depression and anxiety. However, its growing prevalence among recent college graduates is causing more and more professionals to recognize it. It’s a real feeling that many former students experience shortly after completing their academic studies.
Many instances of post-graduation depression are a continuation of mental health issues students dealt with while still in school. According to studies, 75% of those with a mental health disorder will have developed their disorder by the time they turn 25, which means if you do experience a mental health disorder, it will occur during your college years.
Significant life changes are also known to be extremely stressful for many people, even those without a preexisting mental health disorder. Graduating from college is one of the biggest changes you can experience. After all, once you’ve graduated, you no longer live the student life. You don’t get to make your own schedule. You can often skip class and get away with it. None of that works in the workplace. You have to make that transition from student to a full-time employee.
After graduation, you are forced to move away, which can pull you from friends, significant others, and family, leading to more distress. Graduating college isn’t just one change; it’s often accompanied by many life changes. Pair that with the fact that most mental illnesses appear before you even graduate, and it’s no wonder post-graduation depression is so frequent.
- You Feel Unorganized. In school, your schedule was set for you. However, in the workplace, you have to create your own. This can become difficult, and projects may get on top of you. If you haven’t found a job, post-grad life feels aimless and without any routine, which can be detrimental to your mental health.
- You Lack Motivation. Finding a job straight out of school is difficult, and it’s often filled with rejection. As you search for more and more jobs with no luck, your motivation may begin to decline, affecting other areas of life. You may even struggle to get out of bed, work out, eat healthy, and more.
- Social Media Takes Up Too Much of Your Time. Social media has proven to have some negative effects on your mental health. People often compare themselves to their peers far more than they should. Many compare themselves to their fellow graduates, which can often make you feel worse about your own situation.
- You Lack a Support System. Many people move after graduating. While this can be exciting, you are forced to leave friends and family behind, thus leaving you without a support system.
- Your Life Feels Stagnant. After graduation, many people expect their lives to change within an instant. However, that’s not always the case. Many graduates find themselves in the same situation for months. All your attempts to make a change in your life fail, and your life stands still, whether they’re stuck living at home or struggling to find a job, while others’ speed by.
Dealing with Post-Grad Life
No matter your level of sadness or how disconnected you may feel, you must establish a habit of checking in on your health. Allow yourself to fully express and feel your emotions. It’s never healthy to avoid what you’re feeling. Practicing mindfulness can help you express and experience your emotions in a healthy way.
Practice self-care as often as possible. If you feel like you’re a failure for not having a job yet, remember all the hard work you achieved through your studies and all you accomplished and celebrate that. If you feel out of place at your new job, just remember that your boss saw something in you, or else they wouldn’t have hired you. Regularly remind yourself that you are enough and that you matter.
Establishing a daily routine can have dramatic impacts on your life. A study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found that people with a daily routine have healthier sleep cycles. We’ve spoken before about how important sleep is to your mental health. Try adding a set time to work out and go to bed and wake up at the same time daily. Along with a routine and exercising, develop healthy eating habits. Your diet can help regulate and improve your mental health.
Post-grad life is not easy. What seems like such an exciting and fun chapter in life often starts off rocky. People struggle with their mental health once they finally get their diploma. With such a significant life change, your mental health is in danger. If you’ve recently graduated college and are struggling with your mental health, give Lifeworks Counseling Center a call today. There is no shame in seeking help.