Moving back home with your family can be hard. It can bring up feelings of sadness at the loss of autonomy, frustration, irritations, anger, loss of privacy etc. It can increase stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. During the time of COVID-19, it is very important to take care of yourself and find ways to adjust to the changes, including those at home. Here are a few tips that can be helpful:
Acknowledge the Shift and Be Patient
If you have a stressful home life, you are not alone. After adjusting to life on campus, home is not an ideal situation for many students, and being stripped of your choice to live elsewhere can be devastating. It is ok to acknowledge this experience. This is an adjustment period for both you and your family, so try to be patient. Give yourself permission, and your family permission, to make mistakes. Try again tomorrow and do the best you can.
You can plan ahead by thinking about what questions or conflicts typically come up at home and how you might respond (or not respond) to them. You can make a list of coping skills that work for you including texting an understanding friend, breathing exercises, or going for a walk. Finally, make sure to reward yourself. If you feel something is going to be challenging, plan to do something you enjoy or find relaxing afterward. This way you can have something to look forward to and a way to deal with any leftover stress.
Let your family know your online class schedule and when you’ll be engaging in schoolwork. To the best of your ability, find private, quiet places in your home to be alone. You can also set boundaries around what topics you will and will not talk about with your family, and choose not to engage if they try to bring up certain topics that are uncomfortable or triggering.
Discuss your expectations
To avoid any potential conflicts, it helps to discuss expectations. For starters, your parents may have certain ideas about how you will spend your time at home. You may have conflicting expectations about each other’s schedules and daily habits. To avoid a blow-up each time you skip a family meal or want to be by yourself, you need to have an open conversation with your parents.
Stick to your regular routine
Normally we only return to our parent's houses for vacations and holidays, it's easy to think of this as a vacation too. You may find it difficult to follow your normal routines. Try to maintain as much normalcy as you can. Mom's cooking is a treat, but if you find yourself eating more unhealthily than you normally would, buy your own groceries and cook the meals you would eat if you were in your own home. Even though gyms are closed, there are hundreds of home workouts available for free online as well as apps for meditation and yoga (plus adult coloring books, which have become a favorite of mine) to continue taking care of your physical and mental health.
Stay connected to your friends
Your family doesn’t have to be your only social interaction each day. Stay in touch with friends through texting, phone calls, and video chat, and allow them to support you. While we may not have all the answers about what happens next, verbalizing our concerns with others can help ease the strain.
Go on walks/ engage in an outdoor activity
Though social distancing is critical and many public spaces are closing as a preventative measure, you can (and should) go on walks if that’s a viable option in your area and you are feeling physically able. Use these walks as an opportunity to get fresh air and some space from your family. Other options include engaging in an outdoor activity (as feasible) that gives you some time to yourself.
Be aware of your mental health
During this time, it is important to regularly check in with yourself mentally. Notice when you are not feeling ok and seek support. UCS is still providing services at this time. Other therapists also continue to provide services so search for providers in your community. Talk to your parents about how they can support your mental wellness.