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Young adults attending college will have different experiences during school breaks than high school and younger students. For many, this is the first time they’ve been back home since they went to school. For others, they might not be able to afford to go home, so they might feel lonely and isolated if they don’t have anyone else around with whom to spend breaks. Whatever your experience is, we have plenty of suggestions to help you get the most out of your school breaks to support your mental health.
Isolation can occur for both those who are stuck in their college town and those who go back home for their break. You might feel like you want to stay in and sleep to avoid the feeling of loneliness, but it’s important to recognize when you need to reach out for support. Thanks to technology, there are many ways to stay connected even when you are physically cities, states and, in some cases, countries apart.
Ways to stay connected:
Want to try and build your network and community? Try engaging in local events and volunteering at local organizations.
If you feel like you need additional support or feel like you can’t talk to your friends or family about how you’re feeling, you can reach out to the NAMI HelpLine, available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. ET. To be connected to the teen and young adult helpline, text “Friend” to 62640.
Being home on break could bring on responsibilities that you did not have to think about when you were in school. Your parents might ask you to be a lot more involved in supporting your family through more chores, taking care of your younger siblings, or helping out with a family business. It’s important to talk with your family to establish boundaries and expectations. This might be easier said than done, as each family has its own cultural perspectives on expectations in the home. If you feel safe to have the conversation, below are some tips on how to facilitate it.
If your parents are new to understanding the importance of boundaries, you can walk them through our Boundaries info sheet. You can also talk to them about what they feel their boundaries are and make it more of an open conversation. You can discuss things like:
Once you establish what boundaries are important to you, you can then think about flexibility and how you will work together to build your expectations for what your time on break from school looks like. If you need additional support and have access to a therapist, this may be a topic you can discuss with them to prepare what you’d like to say or to work through differing expectations.
School breaks include holidays when families get together. For some, it can be nerve-wracking to see certain family members for various reasons. Not everyone can feel safe to voice their concerns or to avoid seeing those family members. Here is a list of potential strategies to support yourself:
After stressful encounters, plan some time for yourself to help you feel better or debrief.
Additionally, if you need immediate support, you can access helplines, which are staffed with live trained people you can chat with.
NAMI HelpLine: Mental health support available Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET
Trevor Project: LGBTQ+ hotline available 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Crisis Text Line: Mental health support available 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Love is Respect Hotline: Domestic violence support available 24 hours, 7 days a week.
No matter the reason that a family member causes stress, anxiety or even fear, it is important to prioritize yourself and your needs. Not everyone’s family will understand the need to not be around certain family members, but now that you are becoming/are an adult, you can work toward creating boundaries that support your mental health.
During the school year, you might experience burnout and fall off of practices that support your mental health. Now that you don’t have to worry about exams and busy class schedules, you can pick up some good habits that you can try to carry with you into the next school semester! If you’re interested in picking up some new habits, consider trying some of these activities.
Taking a trip with friends and/or family? This can be both a fun and stressful time depending on many different factors. Here are some tips to help you manage your mental health while traveling.
Think about what you will be doing to get to your destination and what you will most likely be experiencing. From there, you can think about coping mechanisms for the parts you feel most nervous about.
Before the drive:
Day of the drive:
However you decide to spend your school break, we hope that you consider some of these suggestions to find what works best to support your mental health.
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