We often talk about mental health in the workplace and at university, but we rarely talk about the difficult time in between.
Unemployment is a particularly tough experience for everybody, but it presents its own challenges for graduates who have just left university. There’s a common conception amongst students that, once you’ve graduated from university, the thought of entering the ‘real world’ should appear exciting to you. In reality, this is not the common experience. Adjusting to life after university, and the months of unemployment that tend to follow, can be incredibly anxiety-inducing. Students are so used to progressing through a set of predetermined steps. After university, this structure of the education system has - for most - come to an end. So, it is natural for graduates to find such a time overwhelming. In this article, we’ll explore mental health after university, and look at some good ways to get ahead and attempt to combat negative cycles.
Although anxiety and depression are individual experiences, there are some common signs particular to post-uni blues. It is common to feel a sense of loss and displacement as you return home and move away from friends that you lived with and spent quite significant time with. This can then be compounded with the added pressure of encroaching adulthood and the responsibilities associated with it, like finding a grad job. More than anything, it is common to feel a great sense of anticlimax. It feels like this is all you’ve been working towards, and now you’re met with a time of little routine and potential loneliness, punctuated by a seemingly never-ending job search. This can cause your natural daily routines to suffer: it is not uncommon to find yourself struggling to eat or sleep, for example. This can create a negative loop, where you end up shutting yourself off and isolating yourself from the outside world. It is so easy for our mental health to spiral out of control, especially in these circumstances. But you are not alone.
Why post-uni blues are so common
A general feeling of sadness or lack of motivation after university is incredibly common. So many people find themselves in the same boat, and it’s largely because of a collective fear of the unknown. Some people manage to secure themselves graduate schemes prior to finishing university, but for many this just isn’t the case. This naturally can cause people to feel entirely unsure about what direction their life is taking. This facilitates the sort of environment where anxiety and depression can easily develop! So, to help ease this pressure and stress of post-graduation life, we’ve put together our best tips for dealing with anxiety and poor mental wellbeing post-uni.
Best tips for looking after mental health post-uni
There are plenty of ways you can help yourself through this period, and proactive measures you can take to try and make post-uni life easier to navigate. These are not cures, and we do encourage seeking professional help if this is something you are really struggling with. But these personal measures can make day-to-day navigation a bit easier.
Structure and schedule
One of the best ways to help your mind during a time of increased anxiety and uncertainty is to implement your own schedule. While unemployed, you will have lost that sense of routine that university gave you. But, routine and structure are commonly proven to help settle your mind and improve your general wellbeing. So, try and find hobbies, errands, and activities to structure your day around - whether it be going to the gym, practicing an instrument, or even setting yourself a strict bedtime. This way, applying for jobs won’t entirely dominate your day
Streamline your job hunt with a friendly recruitment company
The job search can be daunting and confusing, especially when you’re not entirely sure what job or industry you should be pursuing. It’s never a bad idea to ask for a helping hand. Get in touch with an accessible, friendly, graduate-focused recruitment agency likeGive A Grad A Go. They will help you every step of the way with everything from a specific job search to general career queries, including interview and CV tips!
Mindfulness and meditation
There is so much we can all do to get a better control of our own minds. Mindfulness is something you’ve almost definitely heard of, and it refers to the ability to be fully present and aware of our body and mind in the immediately present moment. It might sound simple, but as we go about our daily lives, this is something we rarely do, and it can be the cause for anxious and stressful thoughts about the future or the past. YouTube and Spotify are home to a wide array of online resources that can help you learn how to meditate, and are great places to start.
Life isn’t a race! Transitioning out of university and becoming an adult is a very slow process, but we’re convinced to believe it happens suddenly. And that thought is scary! But it’s important to remember that everyone’s life moves at its own pace, and things workout at different times for different people. Don’t feel any guilt in taking some time to truly relax, wind down from the stress of studying, and work out where you want to take your life!
Don’t *just* job hunt
Remind yourself that post-uni life does not begin and end at the job hunt. As a 9-5 job is such a societal expectation, it can be easy to convince yourself that life now entirely revolves around finding a job. But your life needs variety! Let yourself fulfil your days in other ways, rediscovering any hobbies you may have neglected during your studies or committing to a new sport, for example. This will not only help personally, but also professionally, as employers are impressed at individuals who have clearly kept themselves busy while unemployed.
Don’t neglect your friends or family
In the same vein, it is easy to become so obsessed with your job search that you forget to have fun at all! It can of course be incredibly hard to find the energy to socialise when your mental health is suffering - but, more often than not, the distraction will take a massive weight off of your shoulders. So make sure to relish these opportunities to socialise and reignite your relationships with friends and family!
Help and resources that are available
It is really important to pinpoint these negative feelings, and work out the severity of what you are feeling. These everyday tips will be useful for everybody to some degree, but it is also important to be aware of the resources and professional avenues that are there to support you in this time. Below are some great online resources to be aware of and get involved with, but never hesitate to contact your local GP:
NHS Mental Health Services– call 111 for advice, or ask for an urgent GP appointment if you feel that you need immediate help with your mental health.
Student Minds:a varied set of resources aimed at helping the student community look after their mental health.
Mind Charity:0300 123 3393.
NHS Mood Self-Assessment– A free online mood self-assessment, offered by the NHS.
Written by Ben Faulkner: Ben is a Content Marketing & Operations Assistant at Give A Grad A Go, the UK's leading graduate and early-careers recruitment agency. Having recently completed a MA in History, he is always looking for opportunities to expand his writing and marketing network. Attached is his LinkedIn, and much of his work can be found at Give A Grad A Go!