There are ways to minimize the stress of being home after living independently.
Moderator Shawn McCoy (left), Dr. Jayna Bonfini, Dr. Dawn Moeller and Dr. Darla Timbo discuss coping strategies for a peaceful Winter Break.
As the busy, fast-paced semester winds down many students are eagerly anticipating the five-week Winter Break.
However, five weeks of inactivity in a different environment can sound better than it is.
Coping and thriving during the layoff in between the fall and spring semesters was the focus of the final 2019 What’s the T? Thoughtful Discussions About National Narratives, a monthly series sponsored and developed by the Student Affairs Diversity Committee.
Faculty members Dr. Jayna Bonfini, Dr. Dawn Moeller, and Dr. Darla Timbo, from Cal U’s Counseling Center, held an open panel discussion moderated by Shawn McCoy, from the Office of Housing and Residence Life.
The discussion took place the first day following Thanksgiving break, which Bonfini pointed out was sort of a preview for the longer winter break.
“Students are so excited to get home for Thanksgiving,” she said. “But when they get there, they often realize the same conflicts that might’ve existed before are still there. Then they head back and realize this was just after six days, and the next break is five weeks long.”
McCoy asked the panel for tips on negotiating “house rules” after living independently for a semester.
“It’s really about managing expectations, because you go from being individual college students here, where no one is telling you anything, to a home environment, where there are going to be limits set,” Moeller said.
“It’s four years of transition for both the students and parents.”
Moeller also emphasized that too much down time can lead to depression. She advised students to start a hobby they might not have time for during the academic year, such as cooking.
Bonfini added that students need to “have a plan, because after a hectic semester sitting around in your pajamas watching Netflix and chilling might seem like heaven but after 48 hours one will have had their fill.
“Bring the person you are here back home. Get involved in the community with volunteering or some cause you believe in. Doing something good for someone else can keep you upbeat,” she said.
“Unlimited down time is not a recipe for success.”
Timbo advised students to rely on their overall stress management techniques and skills.
“Identify someone you can confide in,” she said. “It’s easier said than done, but put it out there that you need support. It could be empowering, and you might come back to campus ready to succeed.”
Junior Amanda Considine, a dual major in business management and psychology, is a Community Assistant in Smith Hall. During breaks she works as a waitress at home in Youngstown, Ohio.
“I like these discussions because they address blunt topics that are sometimes hard to talk about,” she said. “This was good because even though I am fortunate to be working when I go home the break still seems too long.”