This month seniors everywhere will transition from high school senior to high school graduate when the tassels turn. Transitioning out into the world can be exciting, overwhelming, shocking, depressing, and downright confusing once the cap and gown come off.
When I look back at my high school graduation like many, I had big dreams and, in my eyes, that vision was perfect. I was naïve and set unrealistic goals for myself as a young adult and it seems that millennials are doing the same thing. Perfectionism is defined as a refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. On the surface, it sounds admirable but there are consequences that greatly impact our mental health and well-being.
According to a study published in Psychological Bulletin kids are more obsessed with perfection than previous generations and that obsession is associated with increased depression and anxiety.
I believe that perfectionism found its home on social media years ago and it’s gotten worse over time. Facebook was launched in 2004 and Instagram in 2010. Being raised in a space of constant judgment from friends and strangers via social media is hard. But your self-worth doesn’t have to be reduced to posts, pictures, likes, shares, and comments.
If you are graduating this year enjoy this huge accomplishment. Take it all in one moment at a time as you celebrate with family and friends. And in your own time, when you’re ready, begin to step out on your own using the tools below to stay focused, grounded, and healthy in your mind, body, and spirit.
1. REST. It’s okay to time some time to unplug and rest. Don’t feel rushed. Life isn’t going to pass you by. Relax and breathe. Better yet take a nap as you prepare for the amazing journey ahead.
2. GOOD VIBES. Do some of your friends leave you feeling drained? Do they constantly bring negativity with them? It may be time to check your friends. Sitting around being depressed together doesn’t help anyone so make a conscious decision to radiate good vibes when things don’t go as planned.
3. EXPLORE SELF-CARE. Consider stepping outside of your box and doing things that make you happy. Find low-cost ways to learn more about you and what you like. Adulting isn’t just about going to school and getting a good job or starting a business. This phase of your life is about exploring every facet of you. So explore! Color, paint, visit a botanical garden, ride a bike, visit a historical site or park, hike, walk, read, journal, write, or run. Find out what recharges you and do more of it.
4. FOOD. Take time to try different foods and notice how they make you feel. Food is medicine and it provides us with the energy we need every day. I understand food can be expensive. Sometimes it’s easier to go for cheap fast food and the legendary noodles when money is low. As your situation evolves and changes consider food choices beyond cheap and easy, okay?
5. GIVING BACK. Maybe that dream job didn’t come through and you’re left feeling down and sad. Instead of sitting in that negative space take the opportunity to serve others. Consider donating your time to a cause that resonates with you. According to Mental Health America, doing good helps you feel connected to others, adds a sense of purpose and meaning to life, and takes your mind off your own worries for a while.
Consider sharing these tips with the graduates in your life as we observe mental health awareness month during the month of May.