Ask Amanda: How to Deal with Post-College Depression
posted on August 26, 2016 | by Amanda Holstein
I just graduated this past May and have had a busy, fulfilling summer moving into my new place in a new state, starting my new job, ending a relationship (on mutual terms), meeting my roommate, and traveling to see some friends from back home and college. I did not expect for summer to fly by this quickly!
Fall is quickly approaching and so is the inevitable feeling of sadness when I see some of my buddies going back to college. I know things will start slowing down and loneliness may start to settle in as summer closes out. What advice and suggestions do you have to beat that post-college sadness around back to school time?
Thanks so much,
It’s totally normal to start feeling sad as you see your friends and peers going back to college. It’s interesting for me to hear this because now, at 28 years old, I find life after college to be SO much better! So at least you know there is so much to look forward to and that you’re JUST beginning an amazing new chapter. You’re really just starting your life!
Now as for handling that inevitable sadness of missing college and your old life, I suggest a few things:
1. Make sure you’re taking care of your mind & body.
First and foremost, make sure you are living a healthy lifestyle, because what you put in your body can really affect your mood. Make sure you are eating lots of protein (helps with depression), working out (gives you endorphins), and not drinking too much (alcohol is a depressant). Make sure you make your health a priority because the older you get, the more you really realize how much it can affect your mood!
2. Embrace what this new life stage offers.
There are so many things you can do now as a post-grad that you couldn’t do in college. So instead of feeling sad about what you’re missing, take advantage of what is now available to you that wasn’t before. For example, living in an apartment in a new city, decorating your apartment, not having to study or work after 5pm or on the weekends, meeting new people, learning about your industry in the real world, making your own money, etc. I remember loving the fact that I didn’t have any responsibilities after the workday ended or on the weekends, so take advantage of things like that by making plans, exploring your city, etc.
3. Have your go-tos for those sad moments.
Whenever I’m feeling sad, whether it’s about something in particular or it’s just for an inexplicable reason, I have a few things that always make me feel better in that moment: watching Father of the Bride and other old movies that remind me of my family, playing with puppies, shopping, curling up in bed, coloring, etc. One time my sister actually wrote down a list of these things for me so that when I felt sad I could look at them and remind myself what to do to feel better. It sounds so simple (and a little silly), but it really helped. So now, if I’m feeling down and just can’t get out of it, I let myself feel sad for a bit and do those small things that make me feel a little better in the moment (these mantras also help!).
4. Talk to someone.
I also remember not telling the people around me when I was feeling sad, but that just made me feel more alone. Remember that you have all these people in your life who love you. Call or text someone you love and let them know what you’re feeling. I promise, you are NOT a burden on them (that was always my fear!). They want to hear from you and they want you to be happy. Keeping your feelings inside will just make it worse, so try to talk it out with someone and I promise you’ll feel SO much better!
5. Remember you’re going through a major life change.
It’s also important to remind yourself that you are still in the midst of a major life change, so it’s totally okay to be feeling sad or anxious now and then. Transitioning from college to real life is a phase — and not just a two week phase, but more like a two year phase. Try to “zoom out” and remember that these couple years after school are just the beginning of your life. We need to go through these transition periods to get to the good stuff!