10 Tips To Improve Your Mental Health Post Graduation

You’re in your twenties and you’ve just graduated college. What do you do now?
College, Vasily Koloda, Unsplash
Copyright: Unsplash and Vasily Koloda

So. You’re in your twenties and you’ve just graduated college. First off, congratulations! College is no easy feat, so give yourself a pat on the back! Second…wait what’s second? Figuring out what to do after college can be difficult for a lot of people, including me.

“I should probably find a job, right?” Yes, you should! But scoring a cool gig isn’t always easy, and sending out job applications after job application can make it difficult to stay positive. But there’s good news: you’re not alone.

From one recent grad to another, here are 10 activities that will improve your mental health in post-college life (also known as “the real world”).

1. Make a To-Do List or Schedule

One of the most difficult obstacles facing recent grads is keeping yourself on a schedule.

unsplash, glenn carsten-peters
Copyright: Unsplash and Glenn Carsten-Peters

If you’re lucky enough to find a job right out of college, then this isn’t necessarily a problem. But for those of us sitting around in limbo until we score a job, we’re left to our own devices which can lead to unproductive habits.

Making a To-Do list or schedule for your week can help keep you motivated and leave you feeling accomplished. Grade school and college have been a huge help in creating a weekly planner ever since you were five years old, but nows your time to shine and become the master of your own routine. Good luck!

2. Wake Up Early, Go To Sleep Early

You'll be surprised what maintaining a healthy sleeping schedule can do for you.

Unsplash, Gregory Pappas, woman sleeping
Copyright: Unsplash and Gregory Pappas

College students know the struggle of waking up for 8 am classes, and we all love sleeping in past noon every chance we get. I mean, it’s not like we have jobs to go to...yet. But newsflash! Staying up late and sleeping in every day isn’t good for your mental state or productivity.

Starting your day at noon leaves you very little time to be productive, and throws your body out of whack from a healthy day/night routine. I know 8 am wakeups are rough when you’re used to sleeping in, but the more you do it the better you’ll feel.

You’ll be surprised how much time there is for work and for leisure, so don’t get overwhelmed when you have 12 hours ahead of you. Use it to your advantage!

3. Do a Chore as Soon as You Wake Up

Nobody wants to work the second they wake up, but starting small can make your day more productive.

Unsplash, Volha Flaxeco
Copyright: Unsplash and Volha Flaxeco

I may be stealing this idea from the army, but you should make your bed every morning as soon as you wake up. Or you can clean your room, do some dishes, or fold your laundry. Even the smallest chores can produce a healthy sense of accomplishment.

Doing a chore right away can jump-start your brain into feeling productive which makes starting your actual work even easier. In other words, the sooner in the day you feel accomplished the more motivated you'll be to continue working! So, chop-chop!

4. Eat Three Meals A Day

If you’ve ever participated in a fast, or watched Survivor on CBS, then you know that being well-nourished can make a world of difference for your state of mind.

Maddi Bazzocco, Vegan Food, Unsplash
Copyright: Unsplash and Maddi Bazzocco

Similar to a power tool, your body needs to be fully charged if it’s going to operate most efficiently, so skipping meals isn’t doing you any favors.

A lot of college students skip breakfast, drinking only coffee or energy drinks before leaving the dorm. We aren’t exactly great at cooking healthy dinners either, relying mostly on our meal plans or fast food.

Nows the time to truly start focusing on your diet! And not just three meals a day, but three healthy meals. Nutrients do more than keep your cholesterol low, they also improve your neuron connections and attention to detail. So, if you’re interested in being 100% productive, and producing high-quality work, then start eating three meals every day!

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s true.

5. Exercise for 1 Hour

Exercise is similar to food in that it heightens your energy levels and improves your mental state.

Kike Vega, Woman Doing Yoga, Unsplash
Copyright: Unsplash and Kike Vega

Physical endurance is proven to release endorphins which are chemical compounds created by the body that make you feel happy. So, not only does exercise literally produce happiness, but it also gets your body up and moving.

Keeping your body mobile is important for productivity, and helps the body feel more alert. Covid lockdown can suck you down into the couch which can make you lazy, or just plain stir crazy, so taking a walk outside, going for a run, or simply doing some yoga in the living room can do wonders for your focus.

6. Get a Change of Scenery

Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to refresh your brain.

Avi Richards, Unsplash, Man on Roof
Copyright: Unsplash and Avi Richards

Being in lockdown has been difficult for many of us, but it’s been even harder for people stuck in smaller living situations. Looking at the same four walls can be draining and discouraging, feeling more and more like a prison every day. But changing your perspective can be a helpful tool for getting rid of this feeling.

Even if you live in the world’s smallest apartment, try reorganizing your workspace, or sitting in the kitchen instead of at your desk. The smallest changes can give your brain a sense of relief, and get rid of that pesky claustrophobia.

Certain exercise activities, too, can help with this. Give your eyes a fresh landscape to observe by spending time in another room, taking a walk to your apartment roof, or even moving your desk from one wall to another.

Changing things up might just be the thing you need to refocus and get back to work.

7. Apply to Jobs Every Day

Being a college graduate can be terrifying especially when it comes to finding a job.

Markus Winkler, Resume Photo, Unsplash
Copyright: Unsplash and Markus Winkler

You’ve only known school your whole life, so what do you do now? How do you get your dream job? There are many questions to ask that, frankly, I can’t answer. But what I do know is that applying to jobs every day makes this chapter of your life all the easier.

Sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn are cumbersome if you’re not familiar with them, and resumes and cover letters can pile up if not organized correctly. Applying to jobs every day teaches you how to navigate these career websites, and makes you feel good about yourself for putting your resume out in the open.

Applying to jobs can be nerve-racking, but the more you do it the more comfortable you’ll feel. Plus, the more resumes you put out, the greater the chances you’ll have at scoring your dream job. Good luck!

8. Listen to the Wisdom of Elders and Piers

Entering the real world can be tough, but listening to your elders can make it easier.

Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash, three people talking
Copyright: Unsplash and Priscilla Du Preez

Despite feeling as if we know the secrets of the universe, we college students don’t know what we’re doing, and that’s okay. Parents, friends, co-workers, or anyone whose gone through the early stages of adult life may have some important insight as to how to achieve your goals, so you should listen up!

Everyone has had different methods of success in different fields of study, and listening to their stories can help you define your own path regardless if they're in your career field or not.

The wisdom of elders is not something to ignore during such a transitional period in life. I’m not telling you to interview everyone you meet, but keep your ears open... you might pick up a few tricks now and again.

9. Practice Your Craft

Do you want to be a doctor? A musician? A mathematician? Whatever it is that you want to be, you need to practice.

Jeswin Thomas, Unsplash, Woman Doing Math
Copyright: Unsplash and Jeswin Thomas

The covid-19 lockdown has made it difficult for recent grads to accurately hone their craft. Internships were canceled, companies weren’t hiring, or we had to move home. But all that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to continue to learn.

I’m not saying you should practice surgery on a teddy bear if you’re studying to be a surgeon, but I am saying that you should keep your knowledge sharp by reading and studying new material and interacting with members of your field online.

Being locked indoors can make you feel isolated from the career you hold most dear, but keeping up to date on your field and continuing to teach yourself beyond the classroom can make a world of difference in your mental state, and keep you sane until you rejoin society.

10. Leave Yourself Room For Change

Change is the way of life, and it's best to accept it.

Caleb Jones, Fork in the Road, Unsplash
Copyright: Unsplash and Caleb Jones

One of the heaviest weights on the shoulders of recent grads is following our path. We’ve planned, studied, mapped, and followed the path we think will take us where we want to go in life. Unfortunately, life, or covid-19, can put a halt, or even a dismantling, to our paths.

My plan is ruined! What am I going to do? My life is in chaos!

Don't panic! I know what it’s like to have plans for the future flipped upside down at the last second. It’s discouraging, yes, but it also allows for some much-needed freedom.

Life never goes as planned, ask your elders, but that’s what life is; change. Sometimes it’s important to take a breath and realize that it’s okay to turn left instead of right. It’s also important to be patient with yourself and to never quit.

Success takes time, years even. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and nor will your career be, but it will be beautiful.

Good Luck!

Sometimes life doesn’t go as smoothly as we intend, but I hope these ten tips will help you find your path just as they are helping me. Good luck, stay positive, and be patient. With hard work comes big rewards. I know you can do it!

Chris is a recent Brooklyn College grad who's eager to share his thoughts on entertainment, lifestyle routines, and the state of the world.

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