Last year, we offered an article about the strangeness that surrounded the holidays due to the pandemic. And, while we are certainly still working through this public health crisis to a degree, our trips back home from school during the holidays this year may look a little bit more “normal” than they did last year.
With this semi or full return to normal, we may be facing more busyness and choices than during the 2020 holiday season. More people to be around, more opportunities for work, more events to attend, more changes from your normal day-to-day routine that you were following at school. All of these changes and opportunities are a good reason not to go into the holiday breaks from school “willy nilly” but, instead, have a plan.
Often when people talk about being healthy during the holidays, they are referring to managing weight and calories. And, while our physical health is important, sometimes we don’t think enough about our mental and emotional well-being during those times.
The holidays can be incredibly stressful for many reasons. First, being away from the routine you have been in for months is a change, and sometimes not a welcome one. In addition, being home for the holidays may be a positive, relaxing experience. But, for many students, being home is difficult. In addition to challenges at home, the holidays may also mean social gatherings that may or may not be comfortable or safe spaces for you concerning relationships, addiction, sleep, etc.
- Stop and think. This may sound overly simplistic but, sometimes when we head home for the holidays, there is such a rush to finish work, pack up, and get out of our living spaces that we land on the door of home all too quickly. Even pausing for a few minutes in your dorm, apartment, or even in your car before you turn it on can be enough to get your mind thinking intentionally about the break, home, and all that entails.
- Consider your needs. As you pause and think, ask yourself, “What do I need to make this a positive, healthy break?” You’ve lived at home a lot more years than you’ve lived at college. You know what challenges, temptations, or concerns may meet you there. Consider what you need to make sure you make it the healthiest experience possible.
- Ask for help. Once you’ve considered your needs, put a plan in place to help get your needs met. If you know that Mom is a good one to help you get enough sleep, encourage her to remind you to take care of yourself. If you know addiction concerns will be present around old friends, ask people in your support systems to help keep you accountable. If you know that family gatherings might be toxic, brainstorm with a trusted person or counselor who can help you navigate these challenges.
- Remember holiday breaks are temporary. Whether the trip home is an experience you look forward to or something difficult, remember that it is temporary. Any break from school is only weeks long so, make the most of it or, mediate the challenges and risks as much as possible. You’ll be back at school before you know it.
Hey, now that we think about it, maybe that’s a good thing to plan for too.
November 22, 2021. By Anne Rulo, Author, Speaker, Therapist. www.annerulo.com. FB/IG/Twitter @annemrulo