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Is it normal to feel lonely after college? When Brianna Baker received her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the spring of 2019, she was lucky to get a job. Many of her peers did not. Nevertheless, working as a public health analyst in a large company was not her first choice in life after college.

Baker, now 24, had expected to go directly to graduate school. She said that if she could not solve the problem, she would find her job very exciting, but also “full of nerves and loneliness.” “As part of a large team, about my age, it makes me feel like a small fish in a big pond.”

During college, Baker performed well in her dual majors psychology And interdisciplinary research. She has become accustomed to her identity as a high achiever. However, at work, she is often given tasks that she doesn’t know how to do.

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“The learning curve is a lot for me. I’m an extraordinary person, I want to do well, but I really don’t know how to do it. This is the type of learning that takes time. This is a kind of learning for me. A lot of adjustments, and a lot of pressure.” Baker said.

She also felt lonely. Her dense group of university friends spread to different states and different futures.Baker said: “My social life is like being torn off.” She tried to keep in touch through social media, but this exacerbated her feelings. anxiety Make her feel sorry for herself.

“like [all my friends] Prosperous and able to do well. But I don’t have a new car or an apartment with city views. I cannot publish information about studying for a master’s or doctoral degree. I feel mediocre,” she said.

A few months later, Baker felt sad, stressed, and lonely most of the time. She said: “Life is simply disappointing.” “I have a lot of ideas about life after college, but the reality is not what I expected.”

Disturbances after college are more common than you think

Dr. Libby O’Brien, a licensed professional consultant and expert from the American Counseling Association, said that the sadness, loneliness and anxiety felt after graduating from Baker University are uncomfortable, but not uncommon.

“The first thing to understand is that you are not alone,” O’Brien said. “Feeling anxious, FrustratedOr a certain degree of “stuck” and discomfort after graduation is normal. This is a change, and change can be very challenging. You don’t necessarily know what will happen next. ”

The sense of distress after college does not always rise to a diagnosable level Mental Health Tanya J. Peterson, a nationally certified counselor and mental health educator, said that he has written seven self-help books on anxiety disorders.

She said: “Usually, these feelings of depression and anxiety are temporary, but major depression or anxiety are also possible.”

If you are a recent college graduate, you may feel anxious, depressed or lonely for some reason.

Your views on life after college and its reality do not match. O’Brien said: “Graduates usually have high hopes.” “You think’my life is about to begin.’ In this way, the appearance image you have may not be enough.”

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You will feel the pressure of yourself and others. You may hear many “next steps” questions from well-meaning friends and family members. Peterson said: “It’s just gossip, but it feels like pressure.”

Pressure can also come from within. O’Brien said: “Getting a degree is an amazing achievement. You may feel internal pressure to continue to be successful.” “For the first generation of college students and people of color, this is especially true. They may feel like they are The family dream has fallen on them.”

You have suddenly transitioned to the adult world. Peterson said: “Universities usually provide you with security protection during adolescence and adulthood.” Now is the time to find a job, repay the loan, and start meeting all other expectations and responsibilities regarding adulthood. That will cause a lot of anxiety. “

Your friendship and social life have changed. Graduation usually means that you have lost your social schedule with close friends. After graduating from university, you or your friends may relocate and switch to a different career path. As the activity spins and familiar support disappears, you may feel lonely and lonely.

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The pandemic has made you feel anxious and lonely. For many people, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has exacerbated anxiety and distress, and this anxiety and distress can make life after college look like an emotional black hole.

“COVID-19 means that college students immediately lose the opportunity to connect with friends, classmates and professors. They may lose internships or other opportunities,” Peterson said. “Now they are emerging from universities and becoming a world of shrinking companies. There are many uncertainties and isolations to be resolved.”

Symptoms of depression after college

After university Frustrated Anxiety can cause unpleasant emotions. You may feel:

  • Feel uncomfortable with yourself or life, and don’t know why.
  • Troubled or unmotivated, but don’t know how to move forward or what you want to do.
  • Worthless, powerless, or disappointing you, your family or friends.
  • Being isolated and unsupported in a new job, city or education program.
  • Lonely friends and family.
  • Be angry with yourself because you have not met your expected expectations, and angry with others because you feel that they have prevented you from achieving your goals.
  • Irritable or avant-garde.
  • Just like your air freight is on a roller coaster.
  • Exhausted and overwhelmed.

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Your body also reacts to anxiety and depression. You may have:

You may notice that your behavior has changed. To cope with depression or anxiety, you can:

  • Excessive use of technology and spending hours playing games, scrolling on social media or browsing the web
  • Exercise too much or too little
  • Excessive consumption of unhealthy food
  • Consume too much alcohol or caffeine Or use reactive drugs

Accept your feelings and release your guilt

In order to get rid of the sadness and anxiety that may arise after graduating from college, you first need to recognize and accept your own feelings.

“You may feel that you should keep your face and attitude. But this means you are avoiding things that happen inside.” Peterson said. “On the contrary, please pause, listen to your own voice, let go of labels and judgments. When you acknowledge and accept your feelings, you can overcome this obstacle more quickly.”

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For Zipporah Osei, recognizing that her anxiety and disappointment are related to the recent changes in her life is the key to feeling better.

Ossey said: “I did not enjoy my new job or new city as expected,” Ossey said. He graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with a degree in journalism in May 2020. Soon after, she moved to New York to work for a major media agency.

She said: “At first, because everything was so new, I really didn’t know what caused this feeling.” “I took a break from my writing all summer to find a better one. Place. But in autumn, I still don’t like writing. I realize that I am not where I want to be.”

At that time, Osei, now 24, “deliberately dealt with the feelings I was experiencing, not just ignore them.”

COVID-19 means that Osei is almost powerless to change the restrictions on who she can see and where she can go.

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She said: “I have to change my way of thinking to remind myself of the beauty that I once brought to me.” “Even if I can’t get along with them physically, I really rely on my family and friends to get through the difficulties.”

She also realized that her anxiety and depression made her feel guilty.

“As a first-generation graduate, when I reach this milestone, I expect myself to feel very good. But I didn’t,” she said. “However, understanding how this happens to many people and talking to friends who have similar problems helps me get to the other side.”

In just a few months, Osei was more optimistic about the future and its position in the future. Her suggestion? She said: “Don’t be beaten by this feeling.” “As long as you spend time and energy, you will feel better.”

Tips to help depression

O’Brien and Peterson provided this advice to alleviate distress, loss, anxiety and sadness after college.

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put up Healthy habits. Eat more nutritious food, eat more go to bed, with work out In a way that is good for the body, O’Brien said: “When you are fully focused on your health, you are better able to cope with feelings of anxiety and depression.”

Keep in touch with friends and family. Get emotional support from people who care about you. Peterson said that even if you can’t see them in person, you can connect regularly via text, phone or video.

Establish a new connection. Friendship will change with time, distance and changes brought about by adulthood. Peterson said that to build new relationships with like-minded people, please make the most of your hobbies and passions.

Do things that make sense to you. O’Brien said: “A sense of purpose can help you cope with negative emotions.” “If you don’t have a job yet, or your job is more about getting paid, then please consider volunteering for those who can contribute to your life. Things that come with meaning.”

Practice mindfulness.meditation Peterson said: “This is a great way to mobilize your mind and let it rest.” “If it’s not suitable for you to engage in formal meditation, you can still remain vigilant. Practicing mindfulness just means shifting your attention to the present and the present , Pay attention to how you feel, and choose how you will respond at that moment.”

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Set achievable goals and take small steps toward them. Peterson said: “This may mean taking 30 minutes to perfect your resume or find a job.” “Sometimes, when we set goals, we want to achieve those goals immediately to make up for what we think is a waste of time. But When we do this, we often get into trouble.”

Brianna Baker combined these techniques to get rid of the pain after graduation. She attended the gymnasium, made new friends, set small daily goals, and limited time on social media. She also opened a blog to introduce her post-university experience and became a spokesperson for social justice and system-level change.

“Blogging is cathartic for me. Staying away from social media has helped me stop comparing myself to others and start doing things for myself, not for external verification.” said Baker, who is now studying for a PhD in psychology.

When to seek more help

Many people will get through the depression and anxiety after college over time and get help from family and friends. Others need more support.

If your feelings are ruining your life, or your perception of yourself is significantly different from a few weeks or months ago, then it may be time to seek the help of a therapist, consultant or other healthcare professional. O’Brien said that if you are not sure how to find the help you need, please consult your primary care doctor or family doctor.

If you want to hurt yourself, please contact the U.S. National Police. Suicide prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255. You can talk to a trained crisis handler, or chat with a person on the 24/7 website.

“No matter how bad you are pressure, Anxiety, depression, or external situations, you can always get help. “Peterson said. “If you think you are beyond hope, then it’s time to lend a hand. “

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