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Am I Battling Graduation Blues?

     May and June are filled with days of celebrating graduates and their accomplishments,  whether it be a high school graduation or a college graduation. Families gather to celebrate these moments.  Months of planning and preparation go into what graduation day will look like.  However, for many of you who are graduating feelings of doubt, anxiety, and depression can start to develop as the graduation day nears.  In this blog piece we will examine how to identify those symptoms of anxiety and mild depression.  We will also provide you with methods to manage emotions and implement positive coping strategies.

Thoughts and Questions

     During this time of transition from being a student towards more adult responsibilities, your thoughts may be filled with anxiety and you may begin to question your future or decision making.  Some examples of those thoughts are:

1.  Will I be able to find a job?

2.  I am really going to miss my friends.

3.  What will I do all day?  

4.  If I don’t go to college or grad school will I be missing out?

5.  I will disappoint everyone if I change plans now.

Physical Symptoms

     You may also begin to have some physical symptoms.  Some examples are:

1.  You may withdraw from social activities or from daily activities

2.  You may stress when someone asks what you plan to do for the future.

3.  You may experience anger or irritability that doesn’t match the situation.

4.  You may experience fatigue and extreme changes in sleep patterns.

5.  You may consider or perform reckless behavior.

6.  You may have extreme changes in appetite (eating too much/eating too little). 

Strategies

     There are several strategies you can use to begin to address these thoughts and feelings.  

1.  Build your support system.  Find a few key people that you can discuss your uncertainty with.  Sometimes just giving voice to your feelings can be very stress reducing.

 2.  Use a calendar or agenda.  During this transition there are usually multiple activities going on at once.  You are planning to exit one school and you are also trying to plan your entrance into the workforce or next level of schooling.  Keeping a calendar (digital or paper) can help organize your thoughts and keep you focused.

3.  Do a little each day towards the next step in your life. Oftentimes when depression sets in, you may feel that if you cannot accomplish your entire to do list then nothing is worth doing.  This thought may cause you to check out.  Instead, do a little each day.  Set a time and work on your goals for 30 minutes to an hour.  Breaking tasks into small chunks makes them manageable and more likely to get done.  

     Although graduating is a celebratory occasion, it may also feel uneasy.  It requires a great deal of self-motivation, organization, and personal responsibility to move to the next stage of adult life after graduation.  Generally these feelings are normal.  However, if they continue for up to two months or more you may want to consider speaking with a therapist.  A licensed professional can work with you to test out strategies for coping with the transition. 

    If you are a resident of North Carolina and would like to meet with a therapist, please call Transformation Counseling & Consulting. We are here to help you.  We offer in-person and virtual sessions.  Call now!  (919) 283-6083