I have a love and hate relationship with returning home for the holidays. Ever since I left for college, coming home has always felt a little strange- and the older I get the more anxiety I can feel over it. Living in your own place without your family gives a huge sense of independence that often, you don’t get when you're home with your family. You get to choose your sleep schedule, when and where you go to eat, what places you frequent, what bad habits you indulge in, and even how you dress or act. I know for me, when I’m at school, I live a very different life than when I come home for the holidays. Especially now, when coming home brings a whole new level of anxiety(thanks, Covid!) it’s important to take stock of your feelings and emotions before hopping on a plane or driving home for the first time in a while.
[bf_image id="csffnf4qb7hfgq64r2w34tw"] First and foremost, get a Covid test and quarantine. Being in Riverside, I have a different pool of people, younger people, that I allow myself to see. Being back home in Berkeley, it’s likely that I will just be around my parents and siblings- which is an entirely different group. Getting tested for Covid(even if you’re absolutely sure you don’t have it), is a great safeguard to any stress you or your family may be feeling about the virus and you coming home to see them. I know every time I get tested, I feel a whole lot better too.
Take stock of your feelings about going home. I spend a lot of time meditating and writing out my feelings about being home before I go back, just so I don’t have any unwanted emotions or thoughts popping up at inconvenient times. Is my little brother’s sleep schedule going to irritate me? Will I need to buy soy milk for the fridge? How am I going to feel when my dad inevitably asks me what I am going to do once I graduate? All of those things are good considerations to have if you feel any type of way about returning to your childhood home and being- for lack of a better word- trapped there for a few weeks. Take a few moments and write down your thoughts, talk to a therapist about it, or just vent on the phone to your best friend for a little while to validate your feelings. Getting them out now will absolutely ensure you don’t have a meltdown over dinner one night when something is a little off.
[bf_image id="9tnvrgp8ck7gg97bjvvg8pnc"] Decide what you’ll be doing with your time and what your priorities are. Will you need a day or two to adjust and rest after finals or will coming home and jumping into family time be an exciting thing for you? I always try to communicate my itinerary with my family so they don’t feel excluded or disappointed if I turn down an evening of board games for a Facetime with my friends. Even if it’s just letting your mom know that you’re going on a hike and will be back before dinner, it is the gesture that matters, and more so- the time you take out to regulate yourself to be a better daughter/son, sibling, or family member to the people around you.
[bf_image id="sp79g9vb7t9fqjwcr3vztmnr"] Remind yourself why you like to go home and what things make you happy to be there. Make a checklist of things you need to do when you're home that you miss when you’re away. For me, it’s getting my favorite coffee place, eating dinner on the patio, or ordering Zachary’s Pizza. If you have a fun set of things you love doing when you’re home, turning anxiety into excitement is a great coping mechanism.
Finally, check-in with yourself. It can be hard to go home, and recognizing that you’re about to go into a new environment abruptly can be important to your mental health and overall wellbeing. Even if it’s just taking 10 minutes each morning to do some deep breathing, may I recommend the app Breathwrk, anything can be helpful to keep you happy, sane, and enjoying your holidays. And who knows- maybe by the time you leave you’ll be wishing for more time at home.