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Congrats Grad, Now What? How to Effectively Manage Post-Graduation Anxiety/Depression

Updated: Jan 3, 2023

Graduating from college is the beginning of an exciting new chapter. It's a huge milestone in your life and you should be proud of yourself for all that you have accomplished. But what happens when you’re not totally sure what comes next? After all, you’re no longer in school, but you’re not quite ready for full time employment either. It can be scary to think about all of the changes ahead as you “officially” embark into the real world as an adult. It’s normal to feel a bit apprehensive about what’s going to happen next. And if you are like most people, you might be nervous about where to begin and feel confused about what to do next. But don’t worry, continue reading!!! There are plenty of ways you can manage post-graduation anxiety and help yourself feel more confident as you move forward into adulthood. Learning how to effectively manage post graduation anxiety will significantly aid in decreasing your stress.

Ahhh, the fear of the unknown…ADULTHOOD!! Your new lifestyle is riddled with feelings of insecurity due to limited job prospects. Negative thoughts running through your head convincing you that you are a failure because you don’t have a job yet. Avoiding family members because you don’t want them to ask how things are going because their well intentioned concerns only make you feel even more insecure about your future. Misconceptions that all the other new graduates are “living their life like it's golden” and you are the only one having a tough time since graduation. It's completely normal to feel grief about such a tough life transition and remember your feelings are completely valid.

While post-graduation anxiety and/or depression isn’t a real diagnosis, symptoms do mimic symptoms of real depression and generalized anxiety. Such as decreased motivation, difficulty getting out of bed, a general sense of hopelessness, a negative perspective, substance misuse, excessive worry, difficulty controlling the worry, easily fatigued, and difficulty sleeping. It can leave you feeling a real sense of “failure to launch.” It's important to understand that life is a learning experience and this is only the first semester of the rest of your life.

If you are a recent grad struggling with managing post graduation anxiety here are some tips to help you manage more effectively. Remember, you are not alone in this transition you are going through.

1. Develop a support system

Foster close relationships you made while in college because these people will continue to be there for you when you need them most. It's also important to make new connections because it helps to relate to other people and makes you feel less alone. Talking to a trusted friend about negative thoughts you are having about the next phase of your life can help to get another perspective on your situation. These relationships will not only provide support but also accountability as you navigate adulthood. Just having the support of a friend to talk to is not only helpful but powerful in decreasing your anxiety.

2. Practice mindfulness

Focus on the present. Instead of getting caught up in securing your dream job or your plans for the next 5 years try to focus on crafting who you want to be TODAY. Start a gratitude journal and think about things you can be grateful for right now. Live in the moment and appreciate what you have accomplished and what’s working in your life right now.

3. Stop comparing yourself

You have probably heard the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy” when you constantly compare yourself to your peers and others rob yourself of experiencing the joy of your own accomplishments. Every person will reach success at their own rate. You will have friends that will reach their goals quicker than you and that’s OKAY! Limit your time on social media because although it may appear that your friends have it all figured they don’t!! You will have your moment to shine, be patient and trust the process.

4. Practice positive affirmations

You know how awesome you are and the great things you have accomplished so stop waiting for someone else to tell you that. You don't need anyone else's approval or anyone to validate your “success.” You get to define what success looks like for you. Create positive affirmations that remind you of how awesome you really are. This positive mindset will help keep your stress levels down and make it much easier for you to enjoy life as an adult.

Remember when creating affirmations they should be in present tense and achievable, for example:

“I have a winner's mindset and I will accomplish my goals.”

“I will give myself grace to succeed on my own terms.”

“I will be authentically me.”

“I am where I need to be right now.”

“I am human in the midst of my anxiety.”

5. Practice self-care

A positive attitude starts with a healthy mind and body. It's important to exercise, eat healthy, and get enough sleep. Yes, exercising does help. Working out helps manage anxiety, as we all know. Taking as few as five minutes a day just for yourself can make a huge impact on your mental health. They could include reading, meditating, or listening to music but you get to decide what works best for you. When you focus on creating the best version of yourself inside and out you have a positive outlook on achieving your goals.

6. Find a career mentor

If you feel uncertainty about securing a job after endless applications, failed interviews, and an unstable job market, consider finding a career coach or mentor to help you establish a plan for approaching your career goals.

7. Give yourself grace

Don’t be so hard on yourself and know that the presence of anxiety doesn’t mean the absence of joy. Throughout this transition you will experience good days and bad days. Allow yourself to experience them both. Not being okay is okay. Struggling with anxiety and depression during this time of transition is natural and temporary.

8. Find a therapist

If your feelings of anxiety or depression no longer seem manageable on your own, consider speaking to a professional therapist. Directories such as Clinicians of Color, Therapy Den, Inclusive Therapists, and Open Path Collective are good places to look for a therapist. But if you are feeling stuck in “failure to launch” mode and want an effective plan to skyrocket into adulthood click here to book a free consultation with me today. Take charge of your mental wellness and start adulting with purpose, planning, and positivity.

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