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Gloria Chavez sits surrounded by family she doesn’t know in the living room of her childhood home as she plans to go home for the holidays for the first time since moving away when she was 18. Thinking about this made him feel anxious. It was seen after a while.
Chavez, who was 20 years old at the time, felt as if he had traveled back in time when he arrived. Just like in her teenage years, she would react defensively or even get emotional to unseemly comments.
“I don’t see my family that much, so I only see everyone around the holidays,” Chavez said. “I feel like all the hard work and years of going to therapy is gone. When I’m around people who bring back those emotions, I feel like my 15-year-old self. I’m giving you all the control.”
For many people, “homeland anxiety” is a common occurrence for those who have to travel home for the holidays. Going back to your hometown for the holidays means making travel arrangements, packing your bags, finding a house sitter, and even mentally preparing to meet friends and family you haven’t seen in a while.
It might be the anxious thought of running into someone you’ve known since high school. Or maybe you think your parents are treating you like a child again. Or maybe you expect certain family members to make inappropriate comments about your weight or relationship status. career.
Going home for the holidays means finding yourself in your childhood home, surrounded by people you grew up with, and falling back into old behaviors is a common experience, leading to holiday regression. It is also named.
Often people affected by this phenomenon are not aware of it at that moment, say clinical psychologists. lisa firestone, director of research and education at the Glendon Institute, a nonprofit focused on mental health advocacy in Santa Barbara, California. That emotion comes from implicit memories, memories that exist in our subconscious mind and cause us to behave the way we did when we were raised in that space.
“We may have changed as adults, because we have new relationships and a new sense of ourselves,” Firestone said. Bring back all your old feelings. Although not on a conscious level, you can definitely fall into that way of thinking, and your parents can fall into that way of thinking too. ”
In treatment settings, the family unit is referred to as “system” From the moment most people are born, they are integrated into a system between themselves and their parents or guardians. And if you have siblings, it’s a different system between siblings. No matter how old we are, we are always children in our parents’ system. stephen graves He is a licensed mental health counselor and program manager at Loma Linda University Health Behavioral Medicine Center in Redlands, California.
Graves said there are certain dynamics built into families from birth. If you were the oldest sibling and usually the one to make your own decisions, chances are you still are when you’re with your siblings. Youngest siblings are treated as such by their parents, no matter how old they actually are. Graves is in his late 50s, but when he returns to his hometown for the holidays, his older relatives still call him “Stevie,” his childhood nickname.
“If you were in this dance with your parents and your family, and you’ve been doing tango since you were four years old, and you’ve been doing tango with your family for 40 years, you’d say, ‘I don’t do that anymore. It’s easy to say, ‘No,’ but part of the system wants to maintain homeostasis,” Graves said. “The purpose is to bring members who are not doing the same dance back to the old dance.”
The anxiety you feel when planning to return to a stressful environment is often inevitable. Debbie Missed, Licensed mental health counselor and psychotherapist specializing in relationships, anxiety, and depression. However, there are ways to deal with it.
Misdo recommends planning for possible situations. If the conversation starts to veer toward undesirable topics, you should have a prepared response ready in advance.
“Remember that you don’t have to stay in situations that negatively impact your mental health, and you don’t have to have conversations you don’t want to have,” Misud says.
Reverting to old patterns often happens without us even realizing it, but we do things like go for a walk, go to the bathroom, or move to a different room away from the crowd to reflect on our mental state. You can remind yourself to take regular breaks. Firestone said.
Sometimes, finding the family member you feel most comfortable with or the space in your home you’re most content with can help ease your anxiety, Misud says.
Now, when Chavez, 25, runs the business, TikTok account It provides mental health tips to its followers. When she returns home for her vacation, she tells herself not to react to the inappropriate comments she already predicted might happen.
“I remember who I am and what I stand for. Those comments and jokes aren’t me, so it’s not worth it to always react with anger, so I let them pass.” I intend to,” Chavez said. “Besides, this is only temporary and I’ll be leaving as soon as I get there.”