Contributed by Amanda Anastasio, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.
Now that you have fully adjusted to the increased freedom, friend time, fast food, work and responsibility at college, you face another big change – returning home for the summer! Your attitude about change impacts the way you perceive your situation, and in turn, how you manage it. So keep a positive mind set, you can handle this!
While some may have great relationships with parents and family back at home, others may be dreading the inevitable clash that occurs when you have different expectations than your parents about how the summer will go.
Tips for livin’ at home
- If you are going to be living at home, you have to contribute. During the school year you cleaned up your dorm room, and did your laundry, right? (Well let’s hope you did for your roommate’s sake….) So you should continue to take this initiative while at home. In fact, do more than what is expected of you; your parents will recognize your contribution and appreciate your effort, which will help grow the relationship and send a message of independence.
- Get a job. Lying on the couch will get old, and you will be bored out of your mind. Filling your time with a job, and getting paid is a great way to experience the working world, make new friends, and again, show your parents that you are stepping up and being an adult. The sooner they see you as an adult, the faster they will treat you as one.
- Talk with your parents up front about curfew, friends, romantic partners coming to visit – or anything you think might cause tension. Ask them what they want or need in order to come to a compromise. Try to see their point of view; if you hear them out, chances are they will be more willing to hear you out.
In addition to your parent dilemma, you made a whole new group of friends while at college, who, for the most part, are now absent for the summer months. How do you keep up these important relationships while managing old high school friends?
Maintaining and sustaining lasting and healthy relationships
Studies have shown that supportive friends allow us to live longer and better lives. You may feel you have changed since going to college, and some of your old friends feel distant. Recognize and accept if there are some people with whom you now have evolving interests from or life goals. An important aspect of maturing is choosing your own circle of friends, people who support you and make you feel good about yourself.
- For the guys: Having close pals can decrease your risk of heart diseases and stress-related illnesses at a higher rate than having a girlfriend or partner! The only thing putting you more at risk, besides lack of friendships, is smoking! So put out that butt while we’re talking about it!
- For the ladies: There is an added benefit for you! Researchers suspect that women respond and alleviate stress differently from men because of the hormone oxytocin that is releasedand the fact that estrogen works to enhance it. This encourages women to “tend and befriend” instead of the expected “fight or flight” as suggested by previous research. Biologically, women who focus on friendships and taking care of each other can better control their stress levels and stay calmer during hard times.
With all these health benefits, you can’t afford not to keep your friends close!
Best ways to stay connected to your friends over the summer
- Call them. A quick chat is more personal than a text message. I know it’s easier to text but when you make time to actually pick up a phone you send a message that this person is important to you and you want to stay a part of their life. Let your buds know they are worth the time and effort!
- Send pictures, private jokes, videos, articles, and anything that shows them you know who they are and think of them often. This can help keep you reminded of why you enjoy each other and keep the relationship fresh.
- Plan visits. The best way to keep relationships healthy and strong is regular contact, over the phone and face time! Meet somewhere halfway between the two of you, or if they are just too far, set up a Skype account to make sure you see their mug a few times over the summer!