Dealing with Parents this Holiday Season: 6 Tips for College Students

As a college student, going home for winter break may be a shock to the system. You go from near total independence to living back under your parents’ rules in a matter of hours. To prepare for and manage this adjustment, licensed mental health counselor and Uwill Manager of Clinical Affairs Erin Andrews offers 6 tips to help college students cope when home for the holidays: 

  1. Plan ahead. Reflect on the things that will be hard emotionally – maybe there is a relative who always gets under your skin or you will be stuck sharing a room with your sibling again after getting used to having your own space. Once you know where the challenges may be, you can plan ahead in order to best handle the situation and limit the negative effects. 
  2. Identify your resources. Create a list for yourself of what resources you will have access to when you are home to help your physical and mental wellness.  Do you meditate regularly? You can maintain your meditation practice from anywhere. Do you have access to counseling services on campus? You may still be able to speak to your therapist remotely during break. This list will serve as your quick guide to provide you options for managing any stress that pops up. 
  3. Know your boundaries. Consider what your limits are and how you can stick to them when you are home. Boundaries can manifest in a variety of ways, including sticking to a consistent bedtime, saying no to events or activities, or removing yourself from certain conversations. Do what is best for you and your own wellness. 
  4. Make a self-care plan. Think about what you need to stay well. Consider sleep, eating, movement, pleasure, and connection. Try to make time for yourself to get these needs met! Schedule it in your calendar to keep you accountable if you need to.
  5. Set a routine. Without classes in session, it is easy to fall out-of-sync with your needs.  Try to keep a consistent schedule when it comes to your sleep and wake time, your meals, and activity. This will allow you to better regulate your physical and emotional needs.
  6. Intentionally check-in with yourself.  Take a few moments each day to identify how you are feeling and where the feeling is coming from. Ask yourself questions like, “What am I feeling right now?” and “Where is this emotion coming from?” This will prevent you from getting to the point of an emotional meltdown. 

Feeling a little too much pressure? Your college may offer free access to teletherapy services through a provider like Uwill, which can immediately connect you to a licensed counselor to help you navigate family stress during winter break. Contact your campus counseling center to see what mental health support services might be available.

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