With the end of the semester fast approaching, the holiday season is almost in sight. Only a few more papers, exams and finals are standing in the way between you and a much-needed winter break. For many students, winter break means taking a break from school, catching up on sleep and traveling home for the holidays. However, as with any holiday movie, going home for the holidays can entail a variety of emotions and experiences: happiness, relaxation, weird family dynamics, stress and more.
Whether this is your first time returning home from college, or one of your last times making the trek home, here are some things to consider as you prepare for your upcoming winter break. Goals and Expectations: Going home for the holidays can be both exciting and nerve-racking, particularly if it is your first time returning home from college.
You may want to take some time to check-in with yourself about your expectations for your time at home. It is natural to have hopes for your visit, but also try to allow yourself space to consider possible changes in yourself and in others, leaving room for flexibility in your expectations and schedule. It may be helpful to create a few personal goals and plans for your winter break both to provide stability and to prevent boredom: activities and events you would like to attend, people you may want to see, foods you may want to eat, etc.
Friends, Old and New: Returning home for the holidays can allow for opportunities to reconnect with friends. Send some text messages, plan a lunch date. Do not be afraid to initiate! Reconnecting with old friends and spending time with people you care about and who care about you, can be a great addition to your winter break. However, also be aware that your old friends may have changed, just as you may have changed.
Sometimes people grow apart and that is okay. It may be sad and difficult to navigate, but leave some room for grace, growth and change in your relationships. Also, do not forget about your new relationships and friendships at Pacific. Stay connected, even while you are at home. Thank goodness for technology, especially where distance is involved. Family and You: College is a unique and extraordinary time when you are able to explore and discover new aspects of yourself.
You are forming who you are and who you would like to become. However, your family may have a different idea of who you are. They may remember the version of you from last summer. Hence, returning home and presenting the 2.0 version of yourself may be difficult and confusing for your family to navigate.
To some extent, your family may have to “get to know you” again, just as you may have to re-adjust to them. Plus, you have lived the past semester with tons of independence. Going to bed whenever you wanted, eating whatever you wanted, hanging out or dating whomever you choose. But now, some of that independence may get reeled back in by your parents, and that can definitely be frustrating. However, just as it may be an adjustment for you, it is also an adjustment for your family.
Maybe let them “parent” you a little. Remember, you are still you, a super cool human adult on the rise and also, you are still your parents’ kid. Try to hold both of your roles with kindness. Self-Care: You probably hear this term tossed around in counseling, classes, maybe among coworkers and even among friends.
Maybe you are rolling your eyes while reading this, but seriously, it really is important. Self-care is something everyone likes to talk about, but many of us struggle to actually do. We encourage you to take a moment to check-in with how you are feeling and what you are needing and then to provide care for yourself. With a few weeks off from school, consider what brings you joy, what refuels your energy and what rejuvenates your spirit.
What are some activities you can do to take care of yourself and to prioritize your needs? Whether it is catching up on sleep, doing yoga, meditating, spending time with family, reading a novel, creating art, reconnecting with friends, petting your dog or taking a bubble bath, grant yourself permission to love and care for yourself. Have a refreshing break.