I recently graduated from university with a degree in Psychology, Psychotherapy and Counselling and got my first full time, degree related job. Let me tell you this – it is far more exhausting than I ever could’ve imagined! I won’t go into too much detail and bore you, but I work in an office based role for a company that administers funds and schemes for vulnerable people, such as those in debt, with disabilities, with mental health issues and so on. It is an incredibly rewarding job but working 42.5 hours a week really does kill me off sometimes, and I know now that ‘the Friday feeling’ definitely is a real thing! So with all of this in mind, I thought I’d write a post about my transition from my university lifestyle into full time work, the things I’ve struggled with and a few ways to make those early mornings a bit less painful.
It can be a real shock to your system going from a student lifestyle into a more ‘adult’ one. I don’t know about your experience of university, but mine involved a lot of late nights out and lay in’s the next morning, free time to relax and socialise, and a not so hectic lifestyle with barely any routine (as well as the lectures and assignments, of course). One thing I now realise is that I absolutely took this for granted! My lifestyle now consists of being in bed by 11pm, waking up at 7am, coming home at 6pm, having dinner, taking a shower and doing it all over again – a lifestyle that I, and most people, would refer to as the dreaded ‘adulting’. I do like having a routine now, but I definitely still look forward to my Saturday morning lay in’s and lazy Sunday’s. When I first started full time work (around 2 months ago now), I struggled with the feeling that there were never enough hours in the day to do what I needed to do and that I never had time to myself, or to relax. It started to bog me down and took quite a toll on my mental health, and as someone struggling with anxiety, it is extremely important to allow myself to have that time to let my brain switch off. Since then, I’ve figured out a few ways to adjust to my different lifestyle and make the transition a little easier and as such, I’ve compiled a list of 5 ideas that I personally think make this change in lifestyle less stressful and more positive.
1. Make time to relax!
I think this is the most important one of all. As I said above, it can really get you down and tire you out if you’re not allowing yourself the chill time you need, particularly if you do struggle with any mental health issues such as anxiety or stress. Sometimes all you want to do is stay in bed for the day and let your batteries recharge, but unfortunately skipping a day’s work is not as easy or acceptable as skipping a uni lecture after a night out. After the mad rush of a day’s work and being stuck in traffic on the way home, I like to have dinner and then make myself take time to have a few hours to myself each evening to just relax, and do whatever it is that helps me chill out. It’s a lot easier said than done; the hours in the evening seem to pass by so quickly and before you know it you need to go to bed to get up for work the next morning, but I personally think it really is key to let yourself either do nothing or do what you enjoy for a couple of hours before you have to think about the next day.
2. Find things to occupy your mind
The first point leads me onto this one – when you’re having your chill time, it’s always good to do something to occupy your mind to stop you from thinking about the little time that you do have to relax, or that you do actually have to get out of bed again for work the next morning. This is actually the primary reason that I started this blog as you might have read in my last post, as a way to enjoy my free time after a day at work. There are several other things I like to do which might work for you too:
- Read, write, draw – be creative
- Exercise – take a fitness class, go for a walk or run (even better if you have a dog to take along with you)
- Listen to music, find a new series on Netflix, catch up on TV you’ve missed
- Pampering – take a bath, paint your nails (it’s amazing how much better you can feel with a fresh set of nails)
- Socialise – even though it might feel like all you want to do is crawl back to bed, seeing friends or family can really relieve any negative feelings you might have.
3. Plan ahead
This is quite a small thing but I feel like it makes a massive difference. Planning ahead and sorting out what you’ll need for the next day on the night before helps a great deal when you take those extra 10 minutes in bed in the morning and are running around the house trying to find something to wear for work. I always try to make sure I’ve got something ready to wear, I’ve sorted my lunch out, I’ve put everything that I’ll need in my bag so that I can literally get up, get ready and go! If you’re like me and prefer time in bed as opposed to eating breakfast, sort something out the night before that you can eat when you get to work (cereal, a yoghurt etc). Sometimes rushing is unavoidable as things can get in the way, but I find that if you do everything you can to be organised then it makes it all a little easier. I hate having to rush to get ready at the best of times, let alone when it’s at 7am before I go to work! It puts me in such a bad mood but being prepared and not having to rush seems to just set me up better for the day.
4. Go at your own pace
As a recent graduate from university there is always going to be a level of pressure on you to get into a good job straight away, especially one which utilises your degree. This isn’t always possible for some people, especially if you need a further qualification or have other plans before beginning your professional career such as travelling (like me!). What is important to remember is that everyone works at a different pace or time scale, you don’t have to be in the same position as anyone else to be happy and successful. I read a quote by Oprah recently that said ‘do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do’, and I feel like it is so bloody true. If you aren’t in the job you want or fulfilling all of your goals right now then that is okay – essentially, do what you have to be doing right now in order to build towards those goals until you can do them.
5. Look after yourself
This final point is kind of a combination of the others , but is equally as important. Your own health and happiness are the most important things, so make sure you’re looking after them! Make time to relax, find things to occupy your mind, plan ahead and go at your own pace. Get enough sleep. Eat well. Treat yourself, you deserve it. Look at the bigger picture and when it gets hard, focus on your goals – you’ll make it before you know it.
I hope these few points have put a few things into perspective for some of you and help you if you’re currently in the transition from uni to full time work, if you’ve been through it but are still struggling, or if you’re going to be doing it in the next year or so.
See you on the flip side,