Our 20s are a crucial time in our lives. It is the decade where we become independent, are expected to decide our vocation, find a mate, explore our sexuality and be "functional" adults. That's a lot of pressure! We can often overlook how important the time after graduating college can be. Keeping up with our own expectations, comparing ourselves to others and keeping face that we are always okay is really tough. How can we develop good mental health habits so we can cultivate our best lives?
The first step in maintaining good mental health is remembering the above- post graduation is a crucial time for self-identity with a lot of pressures involved, so be kind to yourself. This will require patience and acceptance. Staying mindful of this situation can go a long way in staying grounded and positive. There is a lot of research to support that mindfulness improves mood and outlook.
Don't stay in your own head- rumination can reinforce depression and anxiety. Reach out for support where ever and how ever you can. Get a fresh perspective. Turn to anyone in your support network who you know will give you empathy and acceptance. If you find that the support is not helpful, turning to a mental health professional is a great way to learn how to process your feelings in a non-judgmental space. Therapy can go a long way in helping you learn coping skills and challenge the patterns that aren’t working for you (and how to change them!).
Remember that we often times don't end up in careers and life paths in the typical way we'd hoped. We'd like to try and plan ahead, but we ultimately can't control what's going to happen. What we CAN do is transform our relationship with the difficult feelings we have during this process and know that they are normal and valid. We can also learn to manage our expectations, making sure to set realistic goals. Draw from as many resources as you can to take you through this experience. It's good practice for the inevitable difficulties that lie ahead. If you work on your tolerance and self-care now, you'll be better equipped to maintain a healthy, positive mindset in the future.