How to Cope With Coming Home from College
Last updated December 6, 2023
If you moved away for college, chances are you made plans to come home at some point during the year, which can bring up feelings of excitement, anxiety, or both. During your first term of college, you’ve spent some time on your own, settling into a new life and routine, and made decisions about how to spend your days independently. Maybe you met new friends, changed up your look, or even gained a new perspective– and you might not feel like the same person you were when you first left home.
Depending on your situation, coming home 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.
Talk to your family about expectations and boundaries while visiting home– both theirs and yours!
When you’re back at home, your family might expect you to re-adapt to their norms, rules, and expectations. This can feel conflicting if you’ve become more adapted to an independent life and structure you’ve built since starting college. On the other hand, your family may expect you to take on more responsibilities (like buying your own food or doing your own laundry), which can be just as stressful if you wanted to come home and relax.
It’s important to talk to your family about expectations– both theirs and yours– before you go home or when you first get there. For example, how should you communicate plans outside of the household, like hanging out with friends or working a seasonal job? Is there a curfew you will be expected to follow? Are there any family gatherings you should be aware of? Depending on your family dynamic, your relationship to your family, your living situation, or your culture, it might feel difficult and uncomfortable to ask these questions. However, it can be important to bring these things up to avoid building tension within your family.
Keep in touch with your friends from college
After some time in school, it’s likely you’ve established your own community– like new friends, colleagues, or your “chosen family.” Staying in touch with them while you’re home is not only fun, but can help remind you of your life in college. You can hangout over a video chat, exchange funny memes over text, or even call them! No matter how you do it, staying connected with your friends can help you feel grounded and remind you of what you have to look forward to when you return to school.
Get connected to free mental health resources for college students
Being away from campus, your friends, classes, or your dorm can create more stress than usual. 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 or mental health center. They may offer remote services while you’re home or they can connect you to resources in your area.
Feeling anxious about going home? Incorporate mindfulness and self-care into your day
Being home can pressure you into feeling booked and busy. 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– like meditation, a calming activity, or journaling– can help you feel grounded.
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