If there is any universal truth I have heard from my fellow soon-to-be graduates, it is that the prospect of leaving this place is daunting at best, and terrifying at worst. That isn’t to say that there aren’t many people who are prepared to leave; there are many who are excited to. It is not the leaving that is scary, but the part that comes after leaving; the “real” world.
If you’re feeling stressed, don’t worry; it’s not just you. According to the Chicago Tribune, post-graduate depression is quite common. And there are many concrete reasons for this. Mainly, the drastic change in purpose and routine, the stress of entering the workforce, and the loss of a tight-knit community. It can also bring sadness and depression on the opposite end of the spectrum; leaving college can be disheartening if you realize you didn’t quite have the college experience you wanted.
Don’t let this bring you down even more, though. There are several step you can take to help alleviate some of these symptoms.
Deactivate your social media for a while.
Social media may be a fun way to pass the time, but it isn’t doing your mental health any favors. A study by the University of Pittsburgh found a link between high rates of depression and high rates of social media use. Researchers hypothesize that it has something to do with the augmented reality people can create using social media; seeing other people put up a facade that they have it all figured out makes us feel worse when we don’t.
Find an outlet for your passions.
One of the amazing things about college is that you spend so much time doing work that is meaningful to you. You take classes that interest you, and most likely you do an extracurricular that *sparks joy*. However, leaving college can be quite different; most people aren’t scoring their dream job right after graduation, and that means working in an environment that can be quite understimulating and passionless. Whether it’s joining a band, attending classes in the community, or volunteering with a cause you love, try and find something that brings you joy. It might bring you passion and ground you during your transition into post-grad life.
Seek professional help.
You might not be able to shake a period of depression on your own, and that’s ok. Seeing a therapist, even if only for a few sessions, can help you work through some of those emotions that are keeping you down. And, you might find that therapy is a long-term treatment that significantly improves your mental health. If you’re looking for a therapist, try this search engine from Psychology Today, or search your insurance company’s website if you have health insurance. Don’t give up hope if therapy seems too expensive or out of reach; many therapists provide low to no cost options for people without insurance, or whose insurance does not cover therapy.
As you embark on this new journey, try to enjoy it! Change is scary, but also rewarding and fun. And know that wherever you end up, you have a community you met at Hope that you can rely on for support.
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