Spectrum Center

Photo by Sweta Meininger on Unsplash


Going home for University breaks is different for everyone. For some, it means a chance to reconnect with friends and family and eat some really great home-cooked meals. For others, it can be tough! Whether it’s going back to family’s house and re-adjusting rules and expectations or experiencing a sense of isolation while back in a hometown that never really felt like home, going home can be particularly tough for LGBTQ folks and people who have difficult relationships with their families.

Here are some strategies for navigating the break:

  • Decide how, when, and if you'd like to come out. You get to decide how much you want to engage with family members around “heated” topics and how much you want to share about your life. A lot of people stress out about going home for the holidays because they feel a pressure to come out to family and feel overwhelmed by the thought of explaining something so big and potentially fraught with conflict to loved ones they only see a few times a year. Guess what? You get to decide how, when, and if you come out. It doesn’t make you a better or worse person if you decide to tell everyone or no one. If coming out feels important to you and your relationships with people you love, set up some support systems first. Maybe a trusted sibling, relative, friend, or cousin can be an ally.

  • Build in coping strategies. Everyone copes in different ways! Maybe you are someone who really needs social connection? Or perhaps a lot of alone time can be useful for you? Think about who you can connect with in person, on the phone, or through online communities. If possible, let these social connections know ahead of time that you may need their support over break and what is the best way to connect. For folks who need alone time, find quiet spaces in your house or neighborhood - like a library or coffee shop. You can surf the web, listen to music, read, write or just think. It may be helpful to identify good places to go before heading back for the break.

  • Give yourself permission to take a break. Think about what “taking a break” would look like for you and make a mental or written list of things you can do as self-care strategies. Is there someone you can call or text with if you start to feel isolated? Do you have a way to be reminded of things that help you feel safe or grounded? Even though you might not see family very often, it doesn’t mean you need to be with them 24/7. If you need “you” time, you deserve to take it!

  • Be gentle with yourself. Feel like you can’t get enough sleep? Eating every buttery, sugary object your aunt puts in front of you? Try not to beat yourself up about it! Many of us just finished incredibly stressful semesters where we couldn’t always take the best care of ourselves. Let yourself relax and reset. What does your body and soul need to practice mindfulness? Maybe it’s sleep, maybe it’s a long stroll, or maybe it’s fulfilling your holiday obligations and then going to visit friends. Whatever it is, give yourself permission to rest and recharge.

  • Allow yourself to feel. If those around you are not supportive or affirming, it can be difficult to engage with them. They may say or do things that are upsetting or disheartening, and may also dismiss any feelings you express about how they treat you. You have every right to feel sad, confused, angry, annoyed, tired, overwhelmed and more, and you deserve to be treated with respect and care.

Things to remember:

  • It can be helpful to have someone or a group people who you can call/text over break for support and validation

  • Know what your coping mechanisms are and use them if possible/needed


  • UM CAPS 2021 finals & break resources

    • TogetherAll

      • TogetherAll is a clinically moderated, online peer-to-peer mental health community that reaches and empowers a diverse population of students to anonymously seek and provide support. Students can independently engage in a variety of courses, self- assessments, articles, journaling, as well as other campus-specific services.

    • Counselor on Duty

      • Speak to a counselor at CAPS for immediate needs. Available from 9am-5pm the week of December 13th.

    • Individual Peer Counseling

      • IPC is designed to offer a new way to meet the needs of students across the University of Michigan. The program offers students the opportunity to meet with peers who are trained by the professional staff at CAPS. Meet the Peer Counselors, find out how students can sign up for IPC, and learn more about the program with the link above.

    • Let's Talk

      • Let’s Talk is a new program that provides students with an informal private consultation (not a substitute for counseling) with a CAPS staff member which is easy, virtual through Zoom, and various drop-in days/times. Speaking with Let’s Talk counselors can provide insight, solutions, and referral to CAPS and campus resources and referral to providers in the community.

    • CAPS Chat Podcast Series

      • CAPS CHAT is a new podcast series recently launched by U-M CAPS. Dr. Christine Asidao interviews mental health experts on a variety of different topics affecting U-M college student mental health.

    • SilverCloud

      • An online, self-guided, interactive mental health resource that provides cognitive behavioral interventions. It is not designed to replace in-person mental health treatment but may be an effective option for students. This resource can be accessed 24/7 and can be used whenever you want, have the time, at your own pace, etc.

    • Managing Stress

      • This time of year can be a difficult time for students to manage everything that is going on. It is possible, with some work on your part and some creative use of available resources, to manage in a healthy way.

    • Wellness Zones

      • We have 3 Wellness Zones: Munger Graduate Residence, Pierpont Commons, and the newest on the 4th floor of the Michigan Union. They are available for students on a drop-in basis when the buildings are open. Resources include massage chairs, yoga mats, light therapy, and meditation tools.

    • Holiday Disruptions

      • The pandemic has caused major disruptions in planning for holidays and school breaks this year. While going home may be an option for some students, others may have plans to stay put. Whether you plan to go home or stay in Ann Arbor, there are different ways you can enjoy this time.

  • Local LGBTQ Centers

  • Online/Virtual Communities

  • Hotlines

    • The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

    • Counseling & Psychological Services After Hours: 734-764-8312

    • Trans Lifeline - (877) 565-8860

  • Happy Distractions

*Adapted from “HOME FOR BREAK: A RESOURCE GUIDE”, written by the Spectrum Center Programming Board*