As you think about graduation and the next chapter of your life, you may find that you are filled with a range of emotions. Sadness about leaving the familiar places and communities that you invested yourself in during university. Anticipation about what new opportunities lie ahead. Perhaps you are finding that planning for the future is spurring intense stress and anxiety, as you start considering your next steps. In this article, we will discuss simple strategies for combating stress and anxiety as you prepare for your career path and think about the future.
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5 Strategies for Managing Stress and Anxiety as You Plan for the Future
Acknowledge that your feelings are normal. The first step is allowing yourself permission to feel whatever you feel. Know that it’s completely normal to experience stress and anxiety as you think about post-grad life. For so many years, the next step has been defined for many- and this may be the first time that you find yourself without a clear sense of what to do next. And that is okay. Remember that many of the people around you are in the same boat. Try not to judge yourself for your feelings; it is completely understandable to be stressed and anxious during a time of such uncertainty.
Be mindful of striking a balance between looking ahead and staying in the present. Take the time to reflect on your strengths and passions. What skills and interests have you developed during university? What classes and experiences have you enjoyed the most? Research and look into potential paths you might take, from applying to jobs in your field of study to graduate school if your desired job requires it. It’s wise to start planning ahead and taking steps towards what you might want to do next. However, it can be easy to become so consumed with thoughts of the future that we miss out on the here and now. Be mindful not to mentally jump to the next season and miss out on the one you are currently in. Do your best to remain present with the people and experiences around you, cherishing each moment – because they won’t last forever.
Remind yourself that it’s okay to not have it all figured out by graduation. For many students, graduation becomes a looming deadline invoking stress. Whether due to self-imposed pressure or expectations by family members or society, it may feel like you have to head into graduation day with an answer about your next steps. But the reality is, you don’t have to have it all figured out. Applying to jobs can be a lengthy and discouraging process at times. It is common to head into post-grad life continuing to explore options and apply for jobs, or even taking some time to ponder what you might do next. Try to avoid comparing yourself to others who may have something lined up, as everyone’s path and timeline is different. Try to reframe Graduation Day from a stressful deadline to a celebratory occasion to honour all of the hard work you have put into earning your degree.
Seek out the support of others. You aren’t in this alone. Lean into the support that is available around you, whether from academic advisors or other mentors. Connect with people you know who are in a field that interests you, and ask them questions about how they got to where they are. If your university has a career centre, utilise those resources to help you to determine which career paths might match your unique skills and interests, work on building your resume, etc.
If anxiety becomes ongoing, excessive, and difficult to manage, consider reaching out for professional help. Maybe you feel as though as much as you try to control worry about the future, you are unable to; and anxiety is negatively impacting your daily life. If this is the case, think about reaching out for support from a mental health professional. Symptoms of anxiety that are persistent and excessive, and making it difficult to carry out daily activities, may be indicative of an anxiety disorder. A mental health professional can help you to process what you are experiencing and determine options for helping you to manage anxiety and improve your quality of life.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.