Years of hard work, exams, deadlines, grit and sweat are coming to an end, and graduation is imminent. It’s a big deal. You’re likely to experience a whole flood of mixed emotions in the days, weeks and months to come – from sheer relief, pride and euphoria to mild panic at what to do next. Graduation means new beginnings, bringing exciting opportunities and fresh challenges to many aspects of your life. Any major change is inherently stressful, and although we can’t totally prevent stress, we can learn how to manage it effectively, which will make us feel a whole lot better!
Taking charge of your life is empowering, so make a start as soon as you can.
Job-hunting is hard graft. Of course, it will need to be your main focus, so be disciplined and tackle it like a job. But create a routine that is interspersed with relaxation, socialising, exercise and fun. And stick to that plan - the enjoyable elements will help prevent stress and keep you motivated.
Let’s face it, you’re not going to sort your whole life overnight. Set small goals and smash them one at a time: update your CV, open a graduate bank account, join the gym, register on the electoral roll, cancel unwanted subscriptions, create a LinkedIn profile, get a part-time job to earn some cash… We all love crossing things off our To Do list! Reward your achievements – it’s all progress!
For many graduates, this will be the most likely outcome, at least for the short-term. Don’t view it as a backwards step, but as a stride towards adulthood - make the best of the situation. Reconnect with family - they can be a calming influence, providing a secure, stable background, when everything else in your life is in a bit of a turmoil.
Use the opportunity to get sorted with work, learn to cook, start managing your finances etc. With much lower living costs, you’ll be able to start saving money or paying off your student overdraft.
Don’t believe everything on social media – not all your friends have got their sh*t together, no you haven’t been left behind. Take your time, you will get to where you want to be! You are supposed to be where you are now.
After the highs of finishing your finals and graduation, it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit deflated and lost, even overwhelmed. Don’t try to go it alone - talk to close friends, family or support services about how you’re feeling; most people will totally get it and be keen to help. Also, remember many of your uni friends will be going through the same emotions – share your concerns and support each other.
If you need help or just want to talk, click here for professionals and organisations experienced in supporting young people.
A strong social network is important for relaxation and support when you need it.
Shutting yourself away is not a good option, we are naturally social beings and need human interaction for our mental health and happiness. So, meet up with people to do things you enjoy: play 5-a-side, join a choir, start a book group, visit uni friends, take up volunteering, whatever rocks your socks!
When uni days are done, it’s time to say no to strawpedoing VKs, give up the PJ days and library night-shifts, stop working from bed and living off cheesy chips…start looking after yourself! Obvious yes, but did you know that good physical health can increase your resistance to stress? Eat well, sleep plenty, stay fit, relax, be kind to yourself!
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