Life after university can be bittersweet.
On one hand, you can celebrate how far you’ve come and the new adventure you may embark on, but on the other hand, there’s a great deal of uncertainty and the stress of moving back home. Post graduate depression is spoken about in a lot blog posts and online articles, however there is a minimal amount of clinical research on post graduate depression.
In an article by the Guardian, Sally Ingram, Durham University’s director of counselling services mentioned that out the 1,000 students that used the student services, only 12 reported postgraduate depression as a potential concern. She also went onto say that its difficult to get an actual figure of those who suffer from post graduate depression since many graduates may not utilise university services once they’ve left.
Post graduate depression however, is a real thing.
Many different types of feelings can arise once you’ve graduated, which can include feeling restless or tired, having difficulty sleeping, and losing self-confidence. You may even struggle with the lack of structure, University gives you freedom but there’s also a level of containment and scheduling that keeps you grounded. There is also a lot of transition which occurs, such as moving back home, not being able to see friends that you saw every day, and of course the transition from student life to employment.
Essentially, it’s a period of loss. There’s a loss of a support system which includes friends, and tutors which can be unsettling and anxiety provoking.
After graduating from my undergrad in 2016, I jumped straight into a masters. Although I had already planned to do a masters since college, I never took a break from institutional education, and sometimes I wish I had spent my time travelling and gaining additional work experience. The feelings that arose between graduation and starting my masters were a complete mixture, I felt anxious, tense, agitated, and confused despite starting a masters degree. I also felt slightly lost, and questioned what I could do with my ‘professional dance degree’. Not having a temporary job for the summer was also a depressing factor, although I had been searching prior to graduating, the job I was contracted to do fell through.
Taking care of yourself during this difficult transition in life is incredibly important.
Here are 4 tips to cope after graduation
Even though your university friends may be heading off to different parts of the UK or abroad, find a way to keep in contact through the ups and downs. Don’t forget to speak friends who have always been there for you in times of need. You can also turn to young minds or MIND if you feel depressed or stressed out, and also consider if it’s worth seeing a mental health professional.
Check whether your university provides postgraduate careers advice, most universities do provide end of year talks based on career pathways and may even invite past graduates to give a speech.
Prospects has a free career planning tool if you feel lost and unsure of what to do. There are also sites such as Reed, Indeed, and First Employ which provide career advice and tips to help you navigate your career interests.
The lack of structure can cause confusion and anxiety, creating a simple structure can help combat those feelings.
This structure can include hobbies and activities you enjoy and job hunting, but don’t forget to relax too. Days off are important.
Compare yourself to yourSELF
Comparing yourself to others is the fastest route to misery, I know it can be difficult to see others exceeding in great jobs, but FOCUS on your path. Although it can be difficult to keep focus, make a list of achievements (big or small) to keep the fire burning.
If you have any other tips on how to cope with l