I write to you today, not only to the graduating class of this year but to everyone navigating through these challenging times. We find ourselves in a period of uncertainty, unsure of when this pandemic will truly end. However, what we can be sure of is its inevitable conclusion. In the meantime, we must remember to care for our mental health.

Please understand that it’s entirely acceptable to not be okay, and it’s equally as valid to seek help when needed. Anecdotally, I’ve been hearing about feelings of loneliness and isolation, as well as anxieties around re-entering society as we transition back to in-person classes, work, and general public outings. This shift in our lives, yet again, is not easy. At the onset of the pandemic, we were asked to change our ways of interacting with others, and now, as pandemic restrictions ease, we face another wave of change.

If you have ever taken a life event stress scale, such as the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, you would be aware that change, whether positive or negative, can be challenging. So, please, be patient with yourself and allow time for adjustment. This process is akin to stepping into a pool after a long absence – initially cold, somewhat shocking, but in due time, you will acclimate and find equilibrium.

I urge you to stay cognizant of your reactions as you acclimate to these changes. If you feel overwhelmed or excessively stressed, it could be your body signaling a need for a moment of tranquility, a moment to breathe. If the feelings become truly unbearable, please consider seeking counseling or assistance.

So, whether you’re part of the graduating class of 2023 or merely a person re-embarking on their journey back to school or work, I commend you. It’s an act of bravery to step forward and embrace the changes once again.

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