If you are approaching your college graduation, you are probably excited, anxious, and a little worried about what your future holds. This can be a scary and stressful time for anyone, but if you are a student with a history of mental health struggles, graduation can potentially become an extremely triggering time in your life. It is important to plan for the next chapter as much as possible to avoid walking entirely into the unknown, but also to understand that not everything needs to immediately fall into place. Having a solid plan in addition to a well-established self-care routine can prevent you from spiraling into a mental health crisis when the time comes to take the next step in your life.
Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Yourself
While it is true that graduating from college often means truly entering the adult world for the first time, it is important to understand that adulting doesn’t necessarily mean having all the answers right away. Avoid comparing your success or preparedness to your peers, because you will likely end up feeling like everyone but you have a plan for after graduation. In reality, most people are just taking it one step at a time. Even when you plan every detail of your next move, things are likely to change when life throws unexpected obstacles and opportunities your way. Plan as much as you can, but stay flexible!
Keep an Open Mind
Many people land careers they never dreamed they would end up in. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing! You have likely spent your college career focusing on a specific job that you believe will put your degree to good use, but don’t be afraid to consider other options. Having any college degree prepares you for careers in a wide variety of fields. Allowing yourself some wiggle room when it comes to job hunting will prevent devastation if your plan needs a bit of adjusting. You might find yourself in a career that you enjoy even more than your original goal, or you might just need to utilize a few unexpected steppingstones to get where you’re going.
Strengthen Your Support System
If you have a history of mental illness, you have probably already established a good basis of support. This might include friends and family, therapists, and support groups. When big life changes occur, such as college graduation, it can be easy to lose touch with your support system while getting caught up in the chaos of it all. But graduation is not the time to put your mental health on the back burner. Instead, plan in advance for graduation time and beyond by utilizing all your resources. Let your friends and family know that this is a stressful time for you, and you might need to vent on occasion or enjoy a day of distracting fun. Keep your therapist informed about all the big changes in your life, and consider making time for extra appointments when you know your anxiety will be at its highest.
Stay on Top of Your Schedule
When you first started college, you may have felt overwhelmed with balancing your courses, study time, and a social life. At the end of your college career, however, you are likely an expert in your routine. Now you have to start all over again, and figure out how to stay on top of your many responsibilities as a true adult entering the work force. You may need to make time for job interviews, apartment hunting, and any additional mental health appointments you will need to squeeze in to keep your life running smoothly. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to start keeping a planner that helps you make sense of it all, and prevents you from forgetting any important meetings or appointments. Keeping track of obligations on your phone can work for some, but putting pen to paper helps you organize your thoughts and take a look at the week ahead of you at a glance.
Take Care of Your Body and Mind
Once again, even though it may seem like you don’t have enough time in the day at this hectic time in your life, it is absolutely critical that you make time for self-care. This is especially true for those with a history of mental illness. Your health should take first priority, and you should take preventative measures to guard against excess anxiety and physical setbacks by taking the time to stay fit and relaxed. Regularly eat nutritious meals and make time for daily workouts. Practices like yoga can accomplish physical activity and mindfulness meditations all at once. While it might feel like you should be planning your next move and sending out resumes, taking an hour a day to take care of your body and relax your mind will always pay off in the long run.
Many college students living with mental illness turn to drugs or alcohol to cope, and in doing so many pf these individuals develop debilitating addictions. If you believe you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help. At Burning Tree West, you will find a team of compassionate, knowledgeable professionals who specialize in helping young adults struggling with addiction and their families. Here, our clients tackle their addictions head-on and harness the power to restructure their lives in a way that fosters lasting sobriety. We believe that practicing recovery doesn’t have to mean an end to educational or career goals, but instead can become a fundamental part of a successful and fulfilling life. For more information on how we can help, call us now at 888-530-9424.