By: Abigail Yeomans LPC
You may remember how you felt when you left or school in the Fall. There may have been a bit of uncertainty, excitement and anxiety and that makes total sense! Transitioning to college is a big adjustment and one that is only fully realized when you find yourself putting all your belongings into a tiny dorm room with a complete stranger!
After some time, maybe that uncertainty started to dwindle, and the development of a life independent from parents began to settle in. Fast forward nine months and you are headed back home, to all that was so familiar. It may bring up some of the same feelings you had when you left last Fall, but this transition can be even harder. There is a delicate balance between demonstrating respect at home and maintaining freedom, the freedom of identifying as an adult. Therefore, I have come up with a few helpful tips to help out during this time of transition.
A key component of that balancing act is respectful and consistent communication. Communication is essential. The “rule makers” of the house need to communicate with you and vice-versa. Even though at first it may feel frustrating to have to talk more often and check in, but putting the time in sooner rather than later will help you and the entire family adjust more quickly to each other’s expectations for the summer. In conclusion, it can be difficult for others to know how we feel unless we remain open and honest. So it is an excellent opportunity to assert your needs and wants as you move toward more independence.
It is natural to feel uncertain about how to spend the extra time you have over the summer. Some students describe feelings of anxiety and say things like “I should be doing more” while others describe emotions related to boredom and depression. One way to counteract the worry and rumination associated with anxiety and depression during times of transition is to establish a routine. Routine development and maintenance may help you gain a sense of control and is something that has been proven to assist individuals diagnosed with depression in their recovery. Therefore, why not give it a shot? I would recommend Google Calendar or getting a new planner that you update weekly.
Developing a routine is part of taking care of yourself, but self-care is defined a littler more broadly. According to Psychology Today, “Self-care means choosing behaviors that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors: exercising, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, practicing yoga or meditation or relaxation techniques, abstaining from substance abuse, pursuing creative outlets, engaging in psychotherapy.”
One way to start practicing self-care right now is to ask yourself how well you have been keeping up with hygiene and keeping your space clean and organized. If you want to be doing laundry once a week and notice it is evening out to doing laundry more like every two to three weeks, I have a suggestion for you. Reward yourself for completing your goal of doing laundry every week. Rewards can be anything that motivates you, and they don’t have to cost any money.
4. Balanced social life
You and your old friends are now back in the same place! There is nothing better than being reunited with people you care about, and it is equally as exciting to hear from new friends made at school this past year! However, some people report feeling overwhelmed with social responsibilities and anxiety about whether they are doing enough to maintain new and old connections. Balancing time is critical so that the transition home doesn’t quickly feel like a typhoon of social responsibility. Find some time for yourself and time for your family throughout the week for consistency and let your friends know the days and times that work best for you to prevent potential distress.
If you or someone you know starts to feel like the level of pain and emotion experienced during this transition is too much to handle alone, please reach out for support. As I noted in the communication section of this article, time put in now can reduce the long-term impact of mental health concerns you are noticing and that are disruptive to your daily functioning. There is no shame in getting some additional help, and it is never too late or too early to put yourself first!