It’s been a tough road until now, but school is finally in session!  I hope your first few weeks have gone well and you’re adjusting accordingly.  There’s no question that students across the country are in for a unique experience and challenges as they tackle online learning, on-campus classes, and for many, a hybrid of the two. One of these challenges may include living with your parents, especially if you’re a returning student who’s accustomed to residing on or near campus. This scenario may make you feel as though you’ve lost some of your freedom or even your adulthood.  Although you may not be fulfilling the school year in your ideal living situation, there are some things you can do to keep your mental health in check and make this year a success.

To help you succeed in your studies this year, I’ve outlined some strategies below that will help you create structure and healthy relationships with those around you.

Set boundaries

You may have heard the phrase “our house, our rules.”  While it’s important to respect your parents’ wishes and rules, it’s equally important for them to address your needs and concerns. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest sitting down with your parents as soon as possible to discuss and agree on clear boundaries while you reside at their house for school.  These boundaries should be mutually agreed upon and will lay the foundation for an effective living, learning, and work environment, and can even improve your relationship with your parents.  Some of the boundaries you may choose to discuss include: quiet hours (during the day and at night), contributing to living expenses, sharing household chores, respecting each other’s living quarters and shared spaces, and inviting friends over.

Just like you’d share your school schedule with your friends, be sure to share it with your parents as well!  This will allow both parties to be aware when each other is taking a class or working and can help guide the expectations during these times.

Additionally, you may want to dedicate a specific work area for your studies.  I recommend choosing a place that is free of distractions, comfortable, and will keep you focused.  Be sure to use a comfortable chair, set up your workspace ergonomically to reduce the risk of injury, and purchase noise-cancelling headphones to keep outside noises to a minimum.  This will help maximize your focus and increase your chances of success.

Take advantage of school resources

Although you’re not currently residing on-campus, most, if not all, post-secondary institutions have created programs to support students throughout the school year.  I highly recommend taking advantage of these programs, especially because they’re often included in your student fees, and in the absence of physically being on campus, this will enhance your connectivity to your school.  If you require a certain service that you’ve yet to hear about, contact the appropriate department without delay to see how they can help you.  Since many people are still working from home, be aware that there may be response delays.

Additionally, if you find online learning difficult because it doesn’t match your learning style, or because your learning environment isn’t effective, speak with an academic advisor who can work with you to devise an appropriate solution and action plan.

Connect with your fellow students

Socialization will continue to play a key role in maintaining a semblance of normalcy this school year.  While you may only correspond with your fellow classmates virtually, I suggest building relationships with them by creating study groups or virtual or socially-distanced social circles.  Most importantly, speak to someone if you’re experiencing feelings of isolation, anxiety, or depression as a result of our given reality.  This includes your parents, friends, medical doctor, or a certified mental health counsellor.  The greater use of technology to facilitate your learning can exacerbate feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression, so it’s important to acknowledge them early on.

Although having your parents as your roommates isn’t the most ideal situation, there’s a lot of good that can come from it too.  Living at home means you can save money for your financial goals, whatever they may be.  If you’d like to talk to someone this school year about difficulties you may be facing at home, contact your Student Assistance Program (SAP) provider today!