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Taking care of yourself after graduation

May 1, 2024

After years of schooling, it can be easy to let your health fall by the wayside. When life changes, so do our priorities. Here are some simple tips and resources that will help you keep a balanced lifestyle and nurture your well-being as you look to the future.

With graduation rapidly approaching, there are more than a few things on everyone’s to-do lists. Whether you’re job searching, moving cities, or just trying to begin your life post-grad with your feet firmly on the ground, life is shifting. And as it changes, so do our priorities and responsibilities.

Generally, life post-grad can be intimidating, especially after spending our whole life in the school system. University can breed some negative habits, as it’s easy to sacrifice a healthy lifestyle to focus on school, your social life and studying. It is important to be intentional about adding healthy habits into your life, but sometimes that can feel overwhelming. These tips act as a gentle reminder to prioritize your health and stress the benefits of doing so.

Keep on learning

I know… this one may be a hard sell, and by no means am I telling everyone to start studying something new, or to go back to school. Becoming a lifelong learner is part of keeping your curiosity for life alive. We’ve already been learning our whole lives, so why stop now? Find a new hobby, strengthen an old one, join an exercise class, or become involved in a local community group. By keeping our minds open to new experiences, we allow ourselves to take time to focus on ourselves and engage in active self-care. Research even suggests that engaging in hobbies regularly can have several health benefits including reducing blood pressure. More details can be found here.

Develop a growth mindset

Speaking of growth, a key to progressing in our careers is understanding that you can develop new knowledge and skills and change into the best version of yourself. A fixed mindset is one where we believe our abilities are simply what we are born with, and we have little control over how good we are at something. Maintaining a growth mindset helps fight feelings of insecurity, and allows us to see the positive in challenges once thought impossible. Be kind to yourself, it is normal to fail or feel overwhelmed by change. Understanding you’re a developing person and learning from change is what helps us learn from our mistakes. To delve more into why keeping a growth mindset is important for your career visit Forbes.

Get outside

It sounds cliché but the fresh air and sunlight can greatly benefit our mental health. Often, life out of school can feel isolating, you don’t have the automatic connection of classes to make friends, and you have more responsibilities that may force you to spend more time alone. It’s easy to stay inside all day without realizing it, especially with the insurgence of remote work. Spending more time in nature has plenty of benefits for your cognitive and emotional well-being, including reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, irritability, and fatigue, increasing dopamine, and feeling of calmness. To maximize your outside experience, try to get outside for a minimum of two hours a week. Moving your workout outdoors has additional benefits of up to 50% for reducing mental health issues. The main advantages of nature come from increasing our awareness of it, asking ourselves questions, and noticing how the environment affects our senses. 

Stay physical

When our lifestyle changes, we often do not realize how much our habits can shift. It’s easy to disregard physical activity when there are other more pressing priorities such as assignments and classes. Exercise and regular movement in your routine reduce symptoms of mental and physical health issues. Keeping active doesn’t just have to involve organized sports or going to the gym, you can branch out and find a way to move your body that you enjoy. Trying a free trial for a fitness class, doing online workout videos, or even finding a nice walking trail are ways to keep moving without breaking the bank. 

Go to the doctor

Another concern for many of us is managing our healthcare. Whether you’ve always gone to your parent’s doctor, utilized the university’s Health Centre, or haven’t been to a doctor in many years regular checkups are important to your health. Unfortunately, finding a family doctor in Canada is often a difficult task. Many students find themselves travelling back home for healthcare, utilizing walk-in clinics, resorting to emergency rooms, or forgoing care, as a result. 

Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care recognizes the struggle that often accompanies finding a doctor. Their ‘Health Care Connect Program’ is a way to close this gap, by assigning nurses to eligible registrants that will then search for a health care provider in your area. Once a care provider accepting patients is found, you will be contacted. The program does not guarantee that a healthcare provider will be found but does see an 80% success rate. You can register on the phone or online on the Government of Ontario website.

Eat well

Try a new fun, and healthy recipe once a week. Think about what your body needs, do you feel tired, or stressed, or do you need help falling asleep? With the rise of super green powders, vitamin supplements, and different dieting crazes eating healthy can feel confusing. In reality, whole foods can be more effective at nourishing our bodies. Adding new fruits and vegetables to a regular snack, and increasing protein intake with foods like Greek yogurt, or eggs are some ways to do this. Feeling sleepy, unmotivated, or agitated? There are tons of foods that contain vitamins that can help you with these goals in a natural way. Meal planning in advance, even just a few days a week, is a good way to ensure you have filling meals available. More tips to help you eat healthier can be found on Healthline.

By Anjolina Rankin-West