When Home Isn’t Always Where the Heart is: Advice for When You Don’t Love Going Home
Home. What does it mean to you? Does it create feelings of joy + excitement or feelings of stress + unhappiness? So often we focus on the former + neglect to talk about the latter. We feel it’s important to discuss + open up the conversation that not everyone truly enjoys going home for breaks.
This time of year can be particularly rough because other students are buzzing around campus talking about their excitement for winter break. However, this doesn’t apply to everyone + it’s important to know no matter what feelings you have towards home, you’re not alone.
This blog post has proven difficult to write. Talking about difficulties associated with going home rehashes feelings I’ve possessed [+ sometimes still do] toward my own home. During my parents’ divorce, home became associated with stress + tension, becoming an environment I didn’t want to constantly be in. Starting college provided a relief from this environment, but when breaks came around, I knew I had to re-enter it. So, I personally know that feeling of not loving going home.
This is an important issue so we’re providing you some ways to recognize a toxic environment + tips to make breaks at home more enjoyable ++ less worrisome —
RECOGNIZING A TOXIC ENVIRONMENT
Toxic environments aren’t always obvious. It may take being out of one to even realize you were in one. If other people tell you the events you experience at home aren’t normal//acceptable, it’s time to reflect on your home environment. After some research, there were several consistent traits associated with toxic family environments: control, excessive criticism, abuse [substance or physical], manipulation, + lack of empathy.
Some of these may be hard to see on the surface. So, start by asking yourself if you enjoy being in the environment. Are you happy + comfortable? Are you supported + respected? Do you feel you’re able to make your own decisions? Are you scared of anyone in your home?
I know these can be deep questions + can be hard to answer, but if you’re doubting the healthiness of your home, they’re important to look deeper into. Most importantly, don’t feel ashamed of your situation + do not blame yourself for it. Always know that you’re not alone in your experiences + there will always be someone there to help you.
FINDING YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM
During difficult times in life, it’s important to have a support system that you can fall back on. If you’re uncomfortable in your home environment, it’s important to let people [or just one person] in + inform them about your feelings//position. Whether your support system consists of your friends, extended family, significant other or counselor, it’s always nice to know someone is there for you.
It can be hard to let people in on a tough + most likely, emotional situation. However, doing this can be beneficial. If you’re having a really bad night, you can be just one phone call or conversation away from help. Also know though, if you’re not comfortable discussing your situation, you don’t have to. You can use the call//conversation to either talk about your current situation or use it to take your mind off of everything + discuss something different.
Holding negativity inside can be very damaging + one day all of your bottled-up emotions will become too much ++ they’ll all come pouring out. Create an outlet for negativity whether that’s talking to someone about your feelings or writing them down, but be sure to do something so negativity won’t bottle up inside you.
MAKING TIME FOR YOURSELF
When you’re home over break, it’s important to make time for yourself + do things that make you happy. Whenever I feel tense at home, I go for a walk — walks allow me to take a few minutes to clear my head + remove myself from the situation//environment I’m in.
Since physically being at home can be stressful, there are a few things you can do to get out of the house, like walking. Try reconnecting with your high school friends + plan to see a movie, go out to eat, or throw a holiday party. A few hours of laughter + fun can provide a necessary mental health break.
If you have a job in your hometown, going back to work also enables you to leave home for a few hours. If your job doesn’t carry over into the winter, you can do other activities like going to the gym.
If you’re unable to freely leave the house, I have always used reading as an escape. Books can transfer you to different places + make you forget about what’s happening around you [we know tons of great books if you need help deciding]. Journaling can also be beneficial as it allows you to write out + express all of your feelings. If you struggle to let emotions out to people, try letting them out in a journal first.
When placed in an uncomfortable environment, it’s important to know what’s best for you + act on it. If you need to separate yourself from the situation, do it. If you need to vent, let it out. Do what’s going to make you the happiest because your happiness truly matters.
RESOURCES FOR HELP
Asking for help is never a bad thing ++ it is not a sign of weakness, rather it’s a sign of strength. If you’re dealing with a dangerous + toxic home environment, please reach out for help. There are many sources you can reach out to, including child protective services.
With this information + tips in mind, we hope you have the most enjoyable break possible. Always remember you’re never alone ++ we are always here for you < 3