Ah — winter break! A cure-all for the accumulated stress of the fall semester. But as you return home for the holidays, remember that you’ve gone through some changes — you’ve made new relationships, learned new things, and even gained some independence. Your family and your family’s home may have gone through changes as well. How will you cope?
Finally — home for the holidays!

The car pulls up to the house and all you can think about is running upstairs and flopping down on your comfy bed. Fall semester was tough, but you made it and have almost four weeks until it starts all over again.

As you enter the house, your parents try to talk to you about something, but you ignore them. “Please, just let me put my stuff down,” you say.

Then you go upstairs, fling open the bedroom door, ready for relaxation — and everything you hoped to see is not there. Your bedroom is now Mom’s yoga studio.
What happened to my room?

This situation is rather common for students returning home for the holidays.

When kids leave the nest, parents move back into their own space and may choose to repurpose rooms for their own use.

Think about how many times you’ve gone home over the course of the semester. Maybe it was just for Thanksgiving break? Maybe a couple of times more.

And you discover that regardless of your being at home, life goes on. You’ve been off having a life of your own at CSU and time has not stood still for your parents.
Occupying new spaces

While your first reaction may be to scream and cry over the changes, remember to keep your cool.

Instead, think about embracing the change. Mom’s yoga studio can be put to good use as a place to exercise while you’re home. It can even be a quiet space to relax.

Perhaps Dad’s “Man Cave” has some pretty sweet video games.

Maybe the bed in the guest room is even comfier than yours was. Remember that even though that room may have once been your bedroom, it’s just a room.

Even though your bedroom used to be your refuge, you have two lives to navigate and perhaps it’s time to explore what other spaces in your parents’ home have to offer.

Navigating your changed life

Take your time away from school to think about how much you’ve changed since you arrived at college. You’ve made new relationships, learned new things, and even gained some independence. It can be tough to navigate your newly changed world, but here are some tips for keeping it interesting during the holidays.

  • Do something fun each day

    Keeping yourself active will help you to remain healthy, both physically and mentally. As tempting as it may be to spend your break on the couch, there are plenty of winter activities out there that only come once a year.

  • Keep in touch

    While you may be far away from your friends at school, don’t let the distance hinder your friendships. Technology provides for a great way to keep in touch with these friends. Perhaps sending a picture message is just the pick-me-up your best Ram friend needs.

  • Communicate with your parents

    At school, the word “curfew” is not something that usually comes to mind. Living back under your parents’ roof can also mean living back under their rules. Make sure to discuss your comings and goings with your parents in terms of boundaries. Coming home at 3am on a Friday night might be okay in Fort Collins but not at home.

  • Rekindle relationships

    Whether it’s your first or last semester of college, chances are some of your high school friends still have family that live nearby. Even though it may have been a while, take this time back at home to reconnect with these friends. It’s always fun to share your new experiences!

By Bridget Haug, Mental Health Initiatives, CSU Health Network; MPH Candidate, Colorado School of Public Health.