Some of us might have to make a big decision in life that require a relocation. The reason can be marriage, study or work change.
Whatever the reason, this change of location can be an exciting prospect to look forward to. Starting a new life in a new place sounds full of promises at times. Especially, when the reason is because we want to be with someone we love, or because of something that we dreamed of, or worked hard for.
But then, there’s a lot more in the package. It’s not only the excitement. The fact that the place is totally new to us and there’s hardly anybody we know, is something that can be worrying, daunting, and disheartening.
It takes a lot of courage and determination to pursue something that takes us away from our comfort zone. Especially, when we know that we will be left to our own devices once we get to the other side of the world in order to pursue our dream.
This is when lots of people feel homesick. This is why I want to share my experience to overcome homesickness.
14 years ago I had to move thousands of miles away from my homeland due to marriage. Since then, I feel homesick every now and then. But, I think I master the trick to overcome my homesickness. By doing simple 15 things below, I hope you can overcome your homesickness too.
When the excitement over…
I remember the first time I was away from home. It was when I went to study in Japan. I was young then, and I was so excited about going abroad for the first time ever.
Few months before I went, I was so busy but happily getting ready for the trip.
Then when I flew over, I got busy straightaway with sorting out all my papers with the uni, the local town hall, the dorm…
But, on the third day, when all the hectic buzz had settled down, I started feeling homesick. I felt lost and lonely.
At that time there was no smartphones, nor internet. The only device you could use to connect with your family in the other part of the world was just landline phone. And it was quite expensive to make international calls.
I remembered calling my home and I cried to my mom. I kept saying that I wanted to go back home. That I would cancel my study because I just wanted to be home.
I was feeling miserably homesick. And I didn’t know what to do to overcome my homesickness. Apart from calling home.
And when I told my mom what I felt, she only said, “You worked hard for this. You’ve been dreaming of this study. All you need to do now is just get out of your dorm. Go somewhere where there are many people. Don’t call us again at least for one week. Then you call and tell me how you get on.”
That’s it. That’s the sympathy I received from my mom.
But I did what she said.
I’ve learned how to overcome my homesickness. And started getting on with my days in foreign land. At the end, I’ve actually enjoyed every minute of it.
Main reasons of homesickness
The symptoms of being homesick may vary from one person to the other. They depend on one’s self character and circumstances. Generally speaking, one would feel low, sad and even depressed. This can create discomfort, low mood and unwillingness to be more active. In some severe cases, homesickness can lead to anxiety and panic attacks.
Although everybody is different and has her own way of dealing things, there are some general situations that can cause homesick. And from my personal experience, the followings are the most common reasons.
1. Having nobody to talk to
As a social creature, human will always need another human. We, mankind, love having company of another mankind. Having someone whom you can talk to is just a natural trait and need.
So, when that need is taken away or lacking, we may get disturbed. It’s like something missing in our lives.
This happens when you go and move to a new place where you don’t know anybody….just yet. You may find yourself alone in most of your free time. Because obviously you can not just grab someone out there to sit with you and make her/him listening to your boring blah blah. 🙂
2. Loads of free time and not busy enough
I think you would agree with me if I say that when we have free time and have less things to do, our minds tend to wander around. Sometimes, we tend to think of things that we don’t need to think of, or shouldn’t think of.
This applies similarly when you are in a new environment and your schedule gives you a lot of free time.
3. Not much excitement
Whether we admit it or not, we all need excitement in life. Because, excitement can help us keep going.
We all have our own preferred things that excite us. But generally speaking, things of our interests are always exciting. Hobbies and pastimes are classical examples.
When we just relocated to a new place, most of us kinda forget or even find difficulties to create excitement in our daily days for so many reasons. The most common reason is unfamiliarity with the place and knowing hardly anybody.
So, we can’t really do and continue our hobbies straightaway. Besides, there’s only so much thing you have to adapt, that your brain kinda forgets about your hobbies.
Top 15 tips to overcome your homesickness
The following are things that you can do to overcome your homesickness. You will learn to master them :-). Because, even if you think you’re already settled in your new place and made it home for yourself, sometimes you will still find yourself missing your old-home, your old life. This can lead to homesickness again and again.
So, every now and then when you feel like going back to your homeland, you can go back to the list to try to overcome your homesickness
1. Let go of your emotion
When we feel homesick, we will feel sad. And our chest will be full with so much emotion. This emotion needs to be released. So, let it go.
You can put a brave face in front of others, but do find time and a place for yourself to release your grief.
Cry hard if you can. Sob if you need to. Just let your emotion flow out. Don’t hold back. Take your time. Let it finish naturally. It will stop eventually. When you stop crying, you will feel your chest a bit lighter even if the sadness is still there.
2. Write down your mind
What the heck? I know I know. You think I must be crazy. But really, writing down what you feel inside your heart and mind, is actually good to release out your emotion. Also, to avoid negative thinking.
You can write at the same time you cry. I do. It’s like mapping out your emotion and hope at the same time.
I personally write what I feel at the time and what I hope in the future. Or sometimes, I write it as a letter to whom I feel strongly miss at the time. Although I mostly miss either my mom or my sister :-). These letters never got to see either of them though, Because I don’t want them to feel worry and sad. So I keep all the letters. And when they become too many, I destroyed them :-).
So yeah…. write down every emotion that you feel and thoughts that you have in mind.
3. Wash your face
This may sound trivial. But it does help. Trust me.
So, when you feel that you already cried hard enough and that all your sobbing ended. Get up and wash your face. Enjoy the cold or warm water…..whatever you prefer…let the water touch and wash your face. If you wish, you can even have a shower or a bath.
Basically, you want your skin to get contact with water. Because water is the most natural calming property…… (this is my personal claim by the way 😉 )
4. Meditation and/or prayer
Prayer and meditation are good to calm yourself down. You can use whatever method of meditation. You can pray according to whatever belief/faith you have. Just focus your mind on the action.
Be mindful in your prayer. Be mindful in your meditation.
Listen to your body. Feel every part of it as you pray/meditate. Listen to your heartbeat as you say your prayer or meditate.
If you listen to relaxing music for your meditation, listen and feel every sound of it.
5. Physical activities
Next thing you want to do is drag yourself to do something physically active. You want to physically exercise yourself. So that your body will give you more Endorphins. The hormone that triggers positive feeling.
This exercise doesn’t need to be a fancy one. You don’t really need to go to a gym for it. Though there is nothing wrong with it, if you can.
You can even just do house works, for examples: cleaning the house, hoovering, mopping the floor, etc. Or you can do walking, jogging, aerobics (using Youtube…..hah!) …. anything. Just move your body. Be active. Make sure you sweat after that….. 🙂
6. Give yourself a treat
Everybody loves a treat, right? Especially when you just finished a hard work.
Yes, you’ve work hard through previous steps, so now give yourself a treat. Buy something that you can enjoy. A small treat. It doesn’t have to be big and expensive. It can be as small as an ice cream. But make sure it’s something you like and enjoy.
Because it’s pointless to treat yourself with a cup of cappuccino when you hate coffee and prefer a cup of tea anytime.
7. Surround yourself with people
When you feel homesick, force yourself to be around with people. Don’t isolate yourself alone for too long and too often.
You can simply go to public places like public libraries, shopping malls, cafes, restaurants, anywhere you can see and hear lots of people.
Perhaps, you can do this at the same time you want to treat yourself with a nice lunch of your homeland cuisine (if you can find a place that do it). Or, when you want to get yourself a nice cup of tea with a delish piece of cake. Your choice.
Just get yourself out there!
8. Go outdoor
One of the things you can do to get rid of your homesickness is going outdoor. Especially going somewhere you can see the beauty of our mother nature.
Anywhere you can see trees, blue sky or water. Anywhere you can hear the sound of chirping birds, trickling water or even sound of the wind.
If we pay attention on every details in our surrounding nature, we can actually learn a lot about life (I’ll talk about this in another post), and we can get sort of peace of mind.
9. Call your loved ones
You may wonder why I put this as 9th on the list. Assuming you do all the things mentioned above, I’m confident you are now feeling a bit if not a lot better.
Naturally you won’t get rid of your homesickness 100% by now, but I trust you will feel more positive and emotionally better. You’re kinda more in control of yourself.
So, go ahead. Call your loved ones. Call anyone whom you miss mostly and share all the things you’ve done so far from number 5 to 8. Tell them stories of your observation over your new place when you do number 5 to 8.
This way, you will send positive feeling to your loved ones. They will be happy for you too. And they will wish well for you instead of worrying about you.
Do call your loved ones whenever you’re already in control of your emotion. Don’t call them when you’re desperate to cry and sob. You don’t want them to be worried about you. When they’re worried, they would lose confidence of you being away from them. This my friend, won’t be good. So, be strong and positive.
10. Find and create an interest
Here, I could’ve simply written ‘find and create a hobby’ instead. But the thing is, when you just moved away (or have moved for a while or years) it may not be easy for you to continue your hobby…. or old hobby should i say.
My first passion ever was painting. I could paint hours and hours. But, when I moved away I couldn’t do it, because I didn’t have my painting kit with me. And it can be expensive to buy and build a collection of painting kit. So I compromised. Instead of painting, I started drawing with oil pastels. Because a box of good quality oil pastel is relatively cheaper.
You can do similar thing. Find something that amuse you yet keep your mind active. It maybe something arty crafty or sporty.
If you like swimming, then go find local pool. If you like badminton, search for local sport center and ask if they have a club you can join. Or if you like skiing and there is no skiing place and it’s the wrong season of the year, perhaps you can start an alternative hobby. Skateboard maybe? Or simply running? Anything that you think you will like it and it’s doable for you.
You can search high and low through internet. Explore any possibilities of new hobby. Then start and claim it. Surprise yourself with what you can do.
After more than 14 years away from my homeland, I found myself with tons of new hobbies and interests. Crocheting, sewing, cooking, baking, cake decorating, drawing, painting (I still do sometimes), making jewelry… and I think the list will probably go on still.
So, challenge yourself with new passion. Make yourself proud!
11. Be social!
We all know that it takes time to make friends. But, we have to start somewhere to do it.
You may not feel up for it. But when you moved to a new place, you have to force yourself even more to get social. Meet people and make friends with them.
Perhaps you can start with little circle of your new family, if the reason of your relocation is relationship i.e. marriage, etc. Or you can open yourself to possibility of being friends with your work colleague or student fellows if your relocation is due to work or study.
The other option is perhaps you can join local gym, social club, sport club, community centers, etc. Basically you want to be more welcoming and sending positive signals to people around your new places.
It may be hard initially. And you may not be able to make friends at all for some time. But at least, this mingling process will teach you more about social interaction and how to deal with people. So nothing get wasted :-).
12. Engage with your new place
One of the big reasons we feel homesick is that we keep comparing our old-home with our new place. We see the new place from the perspective of our old-home.
When we compare them two, we may find difficult to accept the new place as it is. That’s why we have to stop comparing the two places and accept that the new place is totally different from our old home.
We can do this as we gradually get familiar with the place. Go around for sightseeing. Learn a bit about the place. Explore the place.
13. Be positively busy
Last thing you want when you’re alone is having ample time without anything to do.
Similarly, when you’re feeling homesick, you want to avoid being idle too much. It’s ok to have a bit of free time but make sure it doesn’t leave you clueless of what to do.
Find something that interest you and keep yourself busy with it. But make sure it’s something positive. Something that won’t make you regret after you’re done with it.
The easy examples for being positively busy are cooking, sporting, crafting, reading, writing, or even helping your neighbor or friend with a DIY job. Anything that can make you feel positive.
14. Cook your favorite homeland food
This is my favorite thing to do to overcome my being homesick :-).
It may take extra effort to cook. And you may not like cooking. But, if you see the whole process of cooking in entirety, from browsing the recipes online….(nowadays you can learn how to cook literally anything online) ….to shopping the ingredients. From prepping and cooking the food to eating it…..it’s quite long way…..but you will feel satisfied and proud of yourself at the end of the process.
This cooking session can be a good reason for you to mingle with your new prospective friends too. You can invite them over and cook for them. Or ask them to teach cooking local food and enjoy it together.
So, you will be positively busy and be social at the same time. Killing two birds with on stone :-).
Plus, you will have more thing to share with your loved ones back at home….next time you call them.
15. Talk to yourself
Please don’t do it out loud in public places so that people around you can hear you 🙂
What I mean by talking to yourself is basically telling your mind and reminding yourself about what’s important for you. Also about the reason why you moved away in the first place. And you do this talking in your head. In your mind and heart.
You can talk to yourself as having a shower. Or during your breakfast. While you’re waiting for the bus. Or when you’re in the queue for your lunch. Anywhere, anytime. Just keep talking to yourself.
Tell yourself both sides of story. The positive and negative points of you being in the new place. And tell yourself about where you want to be in the future. Explain how important for you to be able to overcome your homesickness by being strong and by getting on to this new place
Conclusion on what you can do to overcome your homesickness
Feeling homesick is not nice. But just like anything that related with feeling and emotion, you can train yourself to cope well with homesickness.
Let’s wrap up the easy things that you can try to overcome your being homesick.
- Let go of your emotion
- Write down your mind
- Wash your face
- Prayer and/or meditation
- Physical activities
- Give yourself a treat
- Surround yourself with people
- Go outdoor
- Call your loved ones
- Find and create your interest
- Be social
- Engage with your new place
- Be positively busy
- Cook your favorite homeland food
- Talk to yourself
Whenever you feel homesick, tell yourself that you’re stronger than you think you are. That you can do anything to overcome your homesickness. Although you admit that you’re feeling sad. Embrace the feeling, but let it go by training yourself to be more positive.
Let me know how you think of the tips above and whether they’re useful for you or not. You can leave in the comments for more ideas to share as well.
If you find the post might be helpful for others, please feel free to share it with them.
All the best!