If you’re going home for Christmas but don’t want to

Gareth Hughes is the Clinical Lead for Student Space and is a psychotherapist, researcher and writer on student wellbeing, including the book Be Well, Learn Well

Not every student looks forward to going home for Christmas. This can be for many reasons and it is ok for you to feel this way. A few strategies can help you manage how you feel about this.

Many students feel obligated to return home, even when they don’t want to. It is important to remember that you are an adult and are entitled to make your own choices. Take time to think about the following:

  • why you are planning to go home
  • whether you do need to go
  • why you don’t want to return home.

Thinking through what will happen

It may help to think about who you are going home for and who, if anyone, it will help. It may also help to think about the potential consequences of either choice (going home or not), and how likely those consequences actually are.

Student life can be very pressurised and in these circumstances it can be easy to lose some perspective. Ask yourself – will being at home be as bad as I think? Are my fears realistic?

Try to work through the consequences in a calm way and to be honest with yourself about what the likely outcomes are. It may help to talk to someone else about how you feel.

If you are worried about a specific issue it may be useful to discuss this with your family, before you return home - if you feel this is possible. Sometimes, addressing areas of conflict can help resolve issues and strengthen your relationships.

Preparing to address conflict

Reducing the impact of the break

If, after thinking it through, you feel you should still return home, even though you don’t want to, see if there are ways in which you can reduce the impact the break has on you.

Could you:

  • go for a shorter period than you’d originally planned?
  • Break up the time at home, by going out with friends or getting out of the house for a while?

Even if you eventually decide that you have to stick to your original plans, being clear about why you are going home can help you feel more in control and can make it easier to survive the holiday period.

If you do go home, it is important that you look after yourself while you are there. Try to find time for yourself and give yourself small rewards along the way. Keep in mind the reasons you decided to go home – you may find they help to motivate you.

Finally remember that the Christmas vacation is a short break – you will be returning to university soon, ready to start the new term.