How to Deal With Post Graduation Stress
Updated: Aug 7, 2019
Graduation season is upon us, and while it can be extremely exciting, it can also be stressful if you haven't yet decided what you'll do next.
GinaMarie Guarino, Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and founder of PsychPoint.com shares with us top tips for coping with post graduation stress.
1. Graduation can evoke feelings of both relief and anxiety, can you explain how graduation can be stressful for students?
Graduating from school is an exciting accomplishment. It is a time for you to be proud of your efforts and really be able to put to use everything you have learned in the previous years. At the same time, it does close a chapter of your life and opens an entirely new chapter - and a scary one at that.
You are at the point where you begin to wonder about your life's purpose, and how to pursue your ambitions in the upcoming years.
Graduating brings relief from the need to study, prepare, review, write and impress. The stress of finals, midterms, internships and apprenticeships are behind you and that can feel like a huge relief.
Graduating also means that you are embarking to make a life on your own. You are going to learn how to support yourself, what success means to you, and what you need to do to achieve that success. You are given a brand new blank slate, but without the support of family, professors and classes.
Having so much 'blank' potential in front of you with much less guidance than you're used to is really intimidating! It does spark a great deal of anxiety that can be hard to cope with.
2. In your experience, what's an effective way individuals can manage post-graduation stress?
Everyone is different and will need to take their own unique steps to manage post-graduation stress. In my experience, people see best results when they take everything one step at a time.
If you have already developed a plan, great! You have a foundation to work with. What is important now is to make a timeline of realistic goals to stick to your plan, and be reasonable about how the plan will work out. Keeping an open mind and understanding that it is unlikely that things will go exactly according to plan is important, along with mentally preparing for the challenges that come with unexpected obstacles.
Whether you have a plan or not, a huge factor in preventing post-graduation stress is to make realistic goals for yourself.
If you have one big goal, it will be hard to achieve it because you are looking at the big picture. To make it easier for you, take that one big goal and break it up into smaller, attainable goals with realistic deadlines. This will help you focus on your own progress, and reduce the stress that comes from the time and patience needed to achieve a post-graduation goal.
3. Often indecision about which path to take can prevent graduates from moving forward. What tips can you share for effective decision-making strategies?
If you are graduating without a plan, that's okay. It is not uncommon to struggle with making a decision about how to move froward with your life. In situations like this, it is okay to take some time to settle into your new environment before you begin to develop a plan. Taking a week or two off to adjust to your new situation can make developing a plan a bit more manageable. Once you are settled, it is helpful to create a blueprint of what you want your life to be like years down the line.
It is also best to not stay idle for too long. If you don't know what path to take, start looking into opportunities in your area. Whether it is a long-term job or a short-term opportunity, any kind of life experience will help you weed out what you don't want for your life, while focusing on discovering the things that you do want for your life.
Try out different positions, internships and volunteer opportunities to see where you fit. Take chances and embrace failures. It is okay to try something out and hate it, and it is okay to not know for sure what you want your career to look like.
What can be detrimental is letting indecision prevent you from doing anything at all.
If you don't get out there and try stuff out, how can you know for sure what is best for you?
4. What is your advice for those who are suffering from post-graduation pressure?
If you are struggling with post-graduation pressure from others or yourself, it is important to remember to pace yourself. This is your life! Your future. What matters is that you are comfortable and confident in your decisions - even if they are scary. If you find yourself feeling pressured, try making a schedule to follow. Dedicate a certain amount of time each day to buckle down and focus on those tough decisions and challenges.
There is no need to rush things, but you also don't want to avoid them either. Avoidance can happen when you feel under pressure, or the idea of making your next move is too overwhelming for you. To combat avoidance, think of things in small doses. Just 1 hour a day makes a difference, and you don't have to figure it all out at once. Pace yourself, and remember that it has to get done, but you have time.
Written by GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC, Founder of PsychPoint.com.
About the Author:
GinaMarie is a licensed therapist and founder of PyschPoint.com. She began pursuing her career in 2012, when she enrolled in a Master’s program in mental health counseling. Gina has worked with a variety of people since 2013, and values her ability to help people learn how to cope with the challenges in her life. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, while also supporting mental health professionals in providing treatment and care to people in need. These ambitions inspired her to create PsychPoint, which provides resources for both mental health professionals and people who value their mental health.