What Am I Going to Do with My Life? Coping with the Stress of What Comes After Graduation.
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Senior year is a whirlwind of change, pressure, fun, and memories. As your time in high school comes to an end, feeling the pressure to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life can be inevitable.
Everyone experiences bouts of stress, anxiety, and sadness as this era of their life comes to a close. Studies have found that the pressures of high school can have many impacts on one's mental health. The CDC reported that more than one in three high school students experienced persistent sadness and hopelessness in 2019, while the National Institute of Health noted that nearly 1 in 3 high school aged adolescents would experience an anxiety disorder.
If you are beginning to feel the pressures that come with high school and what comes next, know that you are not alone. We will provide some effective coping techniques for dealing with the stress that comes with this confusing, scary, and exciting part of your life.
Talk to Someone
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Sometimes, all you need is to vent your complicated thoughts and feelings to a trusted loved one. Whether you decide to open up to a friend, your parents, or a school counselor, talking about the inner turmoil you are experiencing is a great way to feel validated and supported. Studies have found that positive social interaction is crucial to coping with depressive symptoms and stress.
Take it One Day at a Time
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Many high schoolers fall into the idea that you must have it all figured out before stepping across that stage. You may find relief in learning that this sentiment just isn't true. You do not have to know exactly what your future will look like before the end of senior year. While some people know what they want to do after graduation, others don't figure it out for months or even years. As a matter of fact, there are people who go well into adulthood before they finally know what they want to do. Just take a moment to figure out your next step, and you can work your way out from there!
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When your feelings of stress and anxiety become overwhelming, an effective relaxation technique can be critical. Mindfulness is an effective technique used in cognitive therapy for individuals experiencing anxiety or panic disorders. This is because study after study has found mindfulness to be an incredibly effective for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, according to the APA. A few ways you can practice mindfulness include:
Meditative walking. Take a walk and be mindful of your breath. As you walk, observe the sights, sounds, and smells surrounding you.
Mindfulness meditation. Set a timer, get comfortable, and notice everything you can. How does your body feel? What thoughts are running through your head?
Guided meditation. There are a multitude of good quality mindfulness meditations available online to help you practice mindfulness if you do not know where to begin on your meditation journey.
Breathing techniques. Our breath has a significant impact on how we feel. Taking a beat to focus on your breath can be a great stress reliever.
Reach Out to a Mental Health Professional
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While everybody experiences bouts of stress, anxiety, and sadness at the idea of their impending graduation, thoughts and emotions impacting your ability to live your everyday life can signify a more serious mental health issue. Reaching out to a health professional can help you figure out why you feel this way and point you toward coping techniques to get you through it. Never forget that you aren't alone in your stress.
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