Home From College for the Summer? Here are some tips for your mental health.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you navigate your mental health back at home.
First of all… YAY and CONGRATS! You made it through another semester of college which is something to be very proud of. You wrapped up your studying and final exams, packed up your dorm, and geared up to return home for the next couple of months.
Perhaps you are overwhelmed with excitement? Perhaps you are absolutely dreading it? Or, maybe your emotions fall somewhere within that spectrum as you return back to an environment that you once lived in.
As you transition into the next few months of living at home, here are some considerations from a mental health therapist.
You might notice feeling triggered in similar ways that you once did.
As you sleep in your childhood bedroom, eat meals in the same chair as you did before going off to college, and spend time with the people you once saw on a daily basis… you might notice yourself feeling activated. This is completely human.
Oftentimes, folks describe this feeling as “some sort of regression” to behaviors and experiences you haven’t had recently. The reality is “old” stimuli and “old” environments might trigger “old” responses.
For example, one college student who struggled with disordered eating in high school may hear those disordered eating parts when they return home. Another college student may react to their parent in a manner that they would when they were a teenager, despite years of forward motion.
We can normalize these experiences and recognize that our bodies and minds are interacting with stimuli that they have not been exposed to since being home. Give yourself permission and compassion to adjust and transition.
College allows space for separation from the realities at home. Being thrown back into that can be... a lot.
During college, there is physical distance between you and the circumstances that are occurring at home. When you return home, you lack those physical boundaries that you can maintain at school.
This can be distressing and troublesome for college students. It may feel like you are bombarded with stressors that you prefer to keep at an arm’s length, which is anxiety provoking. It is okay to reach out for support from college friends or a mental health professional to process some of the stressors at home.
Family members may expect you to present as a “younger version” of your current self.
The last time you lived with your family was during your teenage years. The people in your household may hold memories of the ways you acted and behaved during that time in your life.
Similarly, they might hold subconscious expectations of the way they think you are willing to be treated. They may not fully appreciate the opportunities for personal growth and development you have experienced during college.
It is okay to set boundaries with family and household members. This might look and feel different for you, and it likely feels different for them. It is okay to prioritize your needs by setting firm boundaries in a way that feels supportive for your continued growth.
Going from complete autonomy and independence at school back to the confines and expectations of home can be emotional.
Reach out for support! Regardless of your circumstances, being at home can be difficult and activating. It is more than okay to reach out for support during this time!