It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or at least that’s the idea. After a long semester of hard classes and a finals week full of sleepless nights, going home to Mom and Dad waiting with your favorite meal and a smile sounds like just what you need. However, that isn’t the case for everyone.
Sometimes the idea of going home can be more stressful than a semester of college. If you’re in that situation, don’t worry, you’re not alone. On the other hand, if you are a parent, guardian or friend anxiously awaiting the homecoming of someone you know has had a hard semester, don’t worry, you’re not alone either.
I always liked this time of year because of Christmas cards and writing notes to Santa, so this post will be split into letters. Keep them in your back pocket and please share them with those close to you, you never know who needs the reminder: you are not alone.
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To anyone nervous to go back home,
Hi! First off, take a deep breath. You can do this. While you’re home over the next few weeks, remember to make time for yourself. I know this can be hard seeing that this time of year is all about giving to and focusing on other people, but you can’t give parts of yourself to other people if you aren’t whole. Self-care is important year round, but during a stressful time like this, it’s crucial. I always look forward to making time for small self-care activities I can’t do back at college. My tiny college apartment only has a shower, so I love soaking in a bath when I go home. Something so simple can make such a big difference. What are things you can take advantage of while you’re home that you’ve missed this semester?
Also while you’re home, don’t forget to get out of the house! Even if it’s cold and snowy where you live, making a trip to Target or your favorite coffee shop gives you a little relief from feeling shut-in. When it comes to dealing with family, remember this: you are in control. You get to set boundaries for what you are willing to talk about and when and how you choose to confide in people. Be gentle with yourself and take your time. Keep in mind that those who care about you are there and ready to listen whenever you’re ready to talk. They love you no matter what.
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To family and friends wanting to show support,
To start off, I just want to say thank you, from myself and the person you are reading this for. Taking the time to read this means you care enough to try and that makes all the difference.
Understand that while you may be ready for someone to talk to you about their struggles, they may not be ready to tell you. This does not reflect on their relationship with you at all, people will open up when they are ready. The best thing to do is to meet the other person where they are. If they are not ready to talk, then just ask a simple, “How are you?” and let them know you’re there for them if they need it. Take the time to check in and talk to them without other distractions.
If they are ready to talk, be sure to listen in a supportive way. This means actively letting them know you understand the importance of what they are sharing with you, thanking them for trusting you with this information, and asking them directly what you can do to make their time at home better. If they do need to leave the house for a bit or change up their plans, understand they are doing what is best for them. Please respect the distance they need. Your sincere care for how they’re doing means so much.
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No matter where you call home or what you’re celebrating, take some time to reflect and be proud of all the hard work you put into this semester. Prioritize what makes you happy and show some love to yourself and those around you by checking in and being present. Happy Holidays from Active Minds!