Leaving home to travel to a foreign place can be a scary thing. But if you’ve managed to sum up the courage, there could be another obstacle in your way: Homesickness. In this post I will discuss how to overcome homesickness, but first: what is it?
Simply put, homesickness is the distress that is caused by being away from home. It’s characterised by obsessive thoughts of home – the people, the places, the food. Its common to have depressive and anxious symptoms, withdrawn behaviour and difficulty focusing on anything that’s not related to home.
We’ve all been there. Being away from home and hearing or seeing something that reminds you of it. A sight, a smell. Literally anything. And then those memories come flooding back. Home, family, friends. All of it. I know the feeling, and I’ve come up with a list of how you can possibly overcome it.
1. Keep Busy
It’s good to give yourself some time to process everything. However, too much free time can be a bad thing. The more free time you have, the more time you have to think about home and everything associated with it. It’s hard to overcome something if you are constantly thinking about it. It can become a huge distraction and it will be impossible to focus on anything else.
Find something that will take your mind off things. Join the gym, go for a run, get a pet, hang out with friends. All of these are good ways to keep busy.
2. Remember that Home isn’t Going Anywhere
Sometimes you just need to sit back and remind yourself that ‘home’ isn’t going anywhere. It’s always going to be there and you can always go back. And that means that you can focus on and enjoy your current adventure because home will be there as soon as you are ready to return.
3. Talk to Someone
Despite what you may think – talking helps. It helps more than you can imagine. Keeping things in and letting it build up is unhealthy and not the best way to deal with things we are struggling with. Sometimes when you are travelling, you may come across someone who is homesick, too.
Talking to these people will help you to understand that feeling homesick is normal and a part of the whole experience. It will help you to feel like you’re not alone in this and that there are other people out there who are feeling the same way you do.
You can even just call home. Call your parents, or your friends. Releasing any emotions that you are feeling is one of the best ways to deal with them. I’m sure everyone would love to hear about your adventures and just hearing their voices or seeing their faces via FaceTime, Skype, or video call will help you feel a whole lot better.
4. Make a Bucket List
If you haven’t already, do some research on the county and city you’ll be staying in. Make a bucket list of all the fun and interesting things you can do and see in the city. If you love coffee, go check out some coffee shops. If you’re into art, check out some art museums or hit an art class somewhere. Wanting something a little more adventurous and fun, check where you could possibly go for a hike, or surfing, or anything different that you’ve been wanting to try.
All of these adventures and activities will give you something to look forward to and keep your mind busy and focused instead of it wandering off and making you miss home and everything you used to do when you were there.
5. Keep a Journal
Make it a habit to write down everything you are feeling. It’s better to get it out (even if you are writing it) than it is to keep it in. It will help you cope with difficult situations and give you a safe zone to express things you may not want to speak to other people about. It’s just you, your journal, and your thoughts. Nobody will be judging you or forcing you to change your mind. It’s also a great way to process everything. When you are alone with your thoughts, you get to sit and deal with them.
Journaling can also count as a creative outlet. Maybe you can take some photos and start a scrapbook of the things you’ve done and the places you’ve seen. You can write poems and do some doodles or full-on sketches, too. Anything you want.