Homesickness is one of the worst kinds of sickness; it's akin to lovesickness in the fact that you know only time can heal it, but you just want it to be over as quickly as possible. There are a few tips and tricks you can use to feel less homesick, even if the feeling never goes away entirely. Homesickness is a process you have to transition through (much like grieving) and there are certain things everyone with homesickness does.
As a child, you may have experienced homesickness when you spent the night away from your parents for the first time in your life, or perhaps during the summers you spent at camp. As an adult you can still experience homesickness when you're away on business trips, away at college, or if you live far from the family nest. The feelings of near panic when you initially realize you are entirely alone, surrounded by strangers, and in an unfamiliar environment may not ever get easier, but dealing with homesickness in the long haul definitely will. There is a light at the end of the dark tunnel, I promise you.
Feeling homesick is the pits and it can be quite debilitating, but unfortunately life stops for no-one and you will have to drag yourself out of your bed, put some clothes on, and enter the real world at some point. So here are some methods that will hopefully alleviate your symptoms of homesickness.
1. Bring A Piece Of Home With You
Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor, discussed the psychology of homesickness with CNN, "...it stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security -- feelings and qualities usually associated with home," and CNN explained, "When these qualities aren't present in a new environment, we begin to long for them -- and hence home." Thus it may help you to take something from home that has great meaning to you. This could be a childhood teddy bear, some artwork, a cozy blanket, or even just your favorite mug. Every time you look at it or use it, you’ll feel comforted that you are surrounded by familiarity.
2. Stay Busy
Keeping yourself preoccupied without time to think about home is a sure fire way to keep the homesick blues at bay. You could take on some overtime at work, volunteer at your favorite charity, or meet up with friends after work or class. Make sure your schedule is packed (with some downtime scheduled in) to ensure you stay mindful and focus on the task in hand, rather than obsessing about thoughts of home.
3. Invite Your Loved Ones To Visit
Inviting your loved ones to visit will give you something to look forward to and by the time they arrive, you may have forgotten all about feeling homesick. To ensure your goodbye isn’t heartbreaking, make sure to plan the next visit while you're still in each other's company, so that when they leave you’re not left feeling totally blue.
4. Utilize Skype & FaceTime
In between visits from family and friends, organize a regular video call to your nearest and dearest. You may wish to check in with your BFF on the first Sunday of every month or call your mom every Monday evening. Social psychologist Dr. Gary Wood spoke to the BBC about homesickness in adults. Dr. Wood said, "Skype is a lifeline," but the BBC explained that, "...it can also exacerbate homesickness." So try Skype out and see how it feels to see your loved ones in familiar settings; it may get easier with time and end up being a great way to help you feel comforted.
5. Immerse Yourself In A New Hobby
Distract yourself by learning a new skill or throwing yourself into a new hobby. Once you get into the swing of it, you're sure to be having so much fun that you're homesickness will have dissipated.
6. Stay Clear Of Sad Films & TV Series
This is definitely one to avoid if you're an especially empathetic person. You may be feeling OK, but as soon as you start watching a weepy movie or a dramatic TV show where something sad happens, this could throw you into a downward spiral of doom and gloom and possibly bring your homesickness back in full force. So go easy on the tragic movies and TV series until you're out of the other side of your battle with homesickness.
7. Surround Yourself With Positive People
If you’re constantly in the company of people who are persistently pessimistic or who are also homesick, chances are you’re going to find it difficult to get out of your homesick jam. Instead, surround yourself with positive people who will help lift your spirits and put an end to your homesickness. Who knows, in the future you might be one of these awesome people who can help heal a fellow kindred spirit’s homesick blues.
8. Focus On The Present
Don’t look back on old photos and pine for the life you left behind; focus on the now and be grateful for your lot in life. Practice mindfulness to help keep yourself rooted in the present, because as the name suggests: the present is a gift. What's the point in wasting it on dwelling about the past?
9. Learn To Love Your New Home
There are bound to be a million and one things you don’t know about your new home, such as which celebrities live in your neighborhood, where the coolest coffee shops are, or where the most amazing vintage stores are hidden. Make it your mission to find a selection of places that you love hanging out in and can visit as a part of your regular routine. Because going for midweek cocktails at an up and coming jazz bar, followed by Friday night dinner at an authentic Italian pizzeria, and a trip to your local farmer’s market on Sunday sounds like a perfect week to me. Craft your own wonderful week around activities that you enjoy and new places you love – your new pad is sure to feel like home in no time.
So stamp out your homesick bug, embrace your new surroundings, and feel at home anywhere!