Post-graduation anxiety: it’s a thing. Some call it the commencement blues, and Psychology Today even dubbed the feeling “Post Commencement Stress Disorder.” Could you be feeling this and not even know it? As it turns out, feelings of failure, irritability, sleeplessness, and a loss of control of your life post-commencement are way more common than you think.
The fact is, major life transitions always come with doubt and struggles. It’s hard enough to deal with the loss of your school community while also navigating all of the expectations of post-graduation life. And now, graduating amidst a pandemic and economic turmoil, college graduates are feeling more stressed and anxious than ever. Post-graduation anxiety affects high school graduates as well.
Truthfully, graduation alone is a remarkable achievement. According to United Way, a successful completion of a high school diploma results in higher income, less unemployment, and other various social benefits throughout a student’s life. But the pressure on students to take their degree and turn it into an astonishingly successful career right away can be daunting, especially when it feels like the world is stacked against us.
How can we cope without losing sight of our goals? Here are some tips to cope with post-graduation anxiety, remain centered, and embrace the uncertainty of this time.
Join a community
No longer being in high school or college can leave many of us feeling like we’ve lost the support of a community experiencing the same things as us. It can be a very isolating feeling, going from living surrounded by other students to alternative living situations, such as back in your childhood home. The good news is that many recent graduates are facing the exact same situations and feelings as you –so why not find new ways of connecting with them?
Join a community of recent graduates (or start one!) on Facebook, LinkedIn, or even Twitter and Instagram. Find others who are posting about similar things as you, reach out, and connect. Or, if you really want to keep your mind off of the situation, you can join groups completely unrelated to graduation but instead focused on your interests.
Start a new hobby
Speaking of, why not take this time to hone some skills? Whether they be for professional development or not, now is the time to focus on your passions and do things for their own sake. Many find starting new hobbies to be a healing practice that takes us out of the stress of the big picture and brings us into the moment.
Consistent exercise is a time-honored salve for mental health. Not only will it keep your mind off of things for a while, but it also is proven to reduce feelings of stress and depression. With all the online workout classes available these days, why not add a new exercise regime to your routine? It’s always good to start early in life!
Make a plan
Need more actionable tips to deal with your anxiety? Consider meeting with a career coach (many are available through your university or local community employment center) to make a plan personalized to you on how you can use this time to take steps to move forward in your career.
If you experience feelings of anxiety on a consistent basis, please contact a mental health professional or a trusted adult to aid you in getting the help you need.