Home for the holidays? How to cope with coming home from college
Last updated December 20, 2021
If you moved away for college, chances are you made plans to come home for the holidays - which can bring up feelings of excitement, anxiety, or both. During the semester you’ve spent some time on your own, settling into a new life and routine. Maybe you met new friends, changed up your looks, or even gained new perspectives - and you might not feel like the same person you were when you first left home.
Depending on your situation, coming home for the holidays can feel exciting, strange, overwhelming, or all of the above. So whether you’re looking forward to visiting home and returning to a familiar space, or the thought of visiting home stresses you out - here are some tips to help you prepare before you leave, and help you cope when you get there:
Get connected to free mental health resources for college students
With the end of the semester approaching you’re juggling multiple things - studying for finals, packing up your dorm, planning your travel home, etc. - which can create more stress than normal. On top of that, you might be mentally preparing to come home to a family or home dynamic that you haven’t lived in for a while. Stress happens, but it’s crucial to preserve your mental health and well-being. Take some time to research free mental health resources to help you manage your stress and cope with being home. You can also check with your college’s counseling/mental health center. They may offer remote services while you’re home, or they can connect you to resources in your area.
Talk to your family about expectations and boundaries while visiting home
When you’re visiting home for the first time, your family might expect you to quickly re-adapt to their norms, rules, and expectations - which can feel conflicting when you’re used to the life and structure you made while in college. On the other hand, your family may expect you to take on more adult responsibilities (like buying your own food or doing your own laundry), which can be just as stressful if you wanted to come home and be taken care of. Either way, it can be a shock to your system, especially when you don’t expect it.
It’s important to talk to your family about expectations while visiting home. For example - will you have plans outside of family gatherings? Is there a curfew you need to follow? Depending on your family dynamic, it can be difficult and uncomfortable to ask these questions. The conversation will look different depending on a number of factors - your relationship to your family, your living situation, your culture, etc.. But whether you’re asking these questions ahead of time or addressing them in the moment, it’s important to bring these things up to avoid building tension between you and your family.
Incorporate mindfulness and self-care into your day
Being home for the holidays can pressure you into feeling booked and busy - going to back-to-back parties, get-togethers, and maybe even a doctor’s appointment or two - all within a few days. With the chaos the holidays bring, it’s okay to take a few moments to sit in any feelings of stress, annoyance, or anxiety. Incorporating mindfulness and self care into your day - whether it’s a few minutes of meditation, a calming activity, or journaling - can help you feel grounded, even when it feels like the world is spinning too fast around you.
Keep in touch with your friends from college
After a few semesters in college, it’s likely you established your own community - you found new friends, colleagues, or chosen family. Staying in touch with them while you’re home can help remind you of your life in college and get you excited about returning after the holidays. If your friends are also visiting their homes for the holidays, they’re likely experiencing similar feelings of stress and excitement. You can plan a virtual party, exchange funny memes over text, or even call them - either way, staying connected with your friends can help you feel less alone during the holidays, even if you’re far away from them.