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


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