Homesickness is a natural reaction to being in a foreign country and is something everyone experiences to some degree. We’ve all had moments of taking a glass-half-empty view of a new environment. Most of the time, these are minor frustrations about alcohol being a bit more expensive, public transport more unreliable and decent (insert favourite food) harder to find than back home.
But homesickness can evolve into an overwhelming resentment of the entire country and the people in it – all of whom are ‘morons’ (especially the ones enjoying themselves). This is accompanied by a crippling yearning for life back home. These feelings will consume you and can severely impact on your trip, especially if you’re also trying to deal with the stresses of working a new job.
What are some ways to combat homesickness?
Limit Social Media Use
Think of social media as an anchor for your moods: at the right weight it can keep you comfortably grounded but if it’s too much it will drag you down. It’s healthy to keep in touch with friends and family back home, but social media can just as easily reinforce FOMO and homesickness. Try to place strict limits on how much social media you use – maybe one Skype call a week and 15 minutes of Facebook with your morning coffee.
Exercise will ease anxiety, stress, and depression while improving creativity, productivity and the ability to relax. If you’re not a gym junkie and jogging isn’t your thing, then find something that works for you; a brisk 30-minute walk at lunchtime or a regular swim at the beach is enough to release some mood-enhancing dopamine.
Feeling a lack of security is a major factor in homesickness. Routines reduce the feelings of disorder and unpredictability that come with being in an unfamiliar place. Do household chores at the same time each day and try to designate a particular time each week for activities like shopping, exercising and socialising.
Saying yes to invitations and partaking in recreation activities and social engagements will distract you from negative thoughts. You may not always be in the mood for socialising, but you can always reassure yourself that you can leave if you’re not enjoying it.
Get Out Of The House
If you have to do a solitary activity like studying or writing, avoid locking yourself away at home all day. Get out and do it in a park, café or library where you’re around people.
Sending gifts home instills a sense of pride in your new home, as you’re essentially saying to your loved ones: “look how great and interesting this place is”. Finding gifts also forces you to get out and engage with your new environment, and forces you to find things that prove how great and interesting the place is.
Don’t bottle up feelings of homesickness, ignoring it won’t make it go away. Sharing how you feel with someone you’re comfortable with can go a long way to releasing your frustrations and easing your loneliness.