Home for the holidays: Mosaic’s guide to family time
After the stress of finals week and end-of-semester to-dos, university students flee from campus to a much-deserved relief from academics. For many university students, even though the everyday stress of college life ends, a different kind of struggle begins: being home during break.
The stress and anxiety that comes with spending extensive amounts of time with family, although it functions differently, can be just as bad as that spawned by schoolwork.
That said, below is Mosaic’s guide to surviving the holiday breaks.
Be a good friend to yourself. Sometimes it can be easier to see and provide for another person’s needs than it is to recognize your own. When dealing with anxiety that family and home situations may cause, be aware of the causes and what you can do in order to care for yourself. Whether it’s taking a break by hiding out in your childhood bedroom or calling a friend, do for yourself what you might do to support another person.
Make a plan. Maybe some things with family are particularly triggering for you — Aunt Carol asking about your post-grad plans, Grandma asking about relationship status or Dad asking about your grades. Before entering these situations, think about how you might react when they happen to maintain control of the impact. Maybe that means setting boundaries with family ahead of time or having go-to stress relief exercises when you know something is going to be potentially triggering.
Allot time to recover. If you know something is going to be emotionally draining, make sure you are giving yourself enough time to process what’s happening around you. It is okay to feel deflated and exhausted around the holidays, so build in time to do what you need to feel like yourself again. Debriefing with a friend or family member who feels similarly to you can be especially beneficial.
Have productive conversations. So before you’ve even made it to the cheese board, your uncle has already started his annual tirade about hating political correctness, minorities, women and all those goddamn liberals. As much as you’d like, chances are you won’t be changing his mind about immigration or universal healthcare anytime soon.
Before getting into an argument that will leave you feeling defeated and even more upset, know where you might be able to have productive conversations. Take a deep breath, challenge them as calmly as you can, question why they have those feelings and never be afraid to excuse yourself from the table when needed.
Become an observer. Disengaging in the name of self-preservation is okay. Maybe you decide to mentally check out from the festivities and play the role of observer for the evening. Through this strategy, maybe you can at least get some good comedy material out of your dysfunctional family.