Whether you are an immigrant, expat, student, traveler or on vacation, at one point or another it’s possible to begin to feel a sense of homesickness. But what is homesickness? Homesickness is the feeling of high anxiety or emotional distress when placed far away from familiar people and places. It can come in many forms and at different times for each individual. It can be very difficult getting accustomed to a new country, and it takes time to adjust. While it can be an emotional roller coaster and even daunting at times, however, once acclimated the rewards are high.
So here are a few tips that may help with the adjustment of having new surroundings and help make it feel more like home.
1. Get to know your Surroundings
It’s good to start by exploring your surroundings. You should figure out where the good places to eat are, or where to get a decent cocktail, find your local post office, police station or the local parks. Are there any outdoor markets once a week or a month? All the things that you enjoy doing in your home country might be also in your new city you just need to get out and explore.
2. Stay Connected… but not too Connected
It’s important to stay connected with family and friends from back home. Sometimes this might make us miss home more, but keeping in touch with loved ones can make home feel a bit closer. Maybe you can send a care package of the local goodies from your new neighborhood to share with loved ones from home.
Make sure not to spend too much time talking to friends and family, it’s important to establish more connections and understanding of your surroundings. The best way to adapt is to get out into the community and understand their way of life.
3. Turn off your Electronics
Cut back on your time spent on the computer or on TV. Today most people spend hours on social media virtually connecting with the rest of the world, searching what others are doing and talking about but limiting that time spent glued to the screen may help with the adjustments.
4. Create a Schedule
Create a routine that will keep you busy from day to day. This requires setting an alarm and establishing what time you eat breakfast, clean house, or workout etc. Staying productive keeps the mind from focusing on negativity or sadness.
5. You don’t have to Change Everything
Accept your comforts for what they are and what you need for yourself. We must all adjust to the new pace of life when we move to a new city or country but it’s ok to maintain your personal habits even if they are not the habits from the locals. For example, if it is customary to for the locals to eat at certain times during the day, understand that restaurants may not be open until those hours, but you can always eat when you like at home.
6. Get your Blood Pumping
Excercise! Working out has a chemical effect on your body that helps with mood swings, boosts energy and metabolism. Additionally, eating badly and staying inactive can make you feel lethargic, which increases mood swings which doesn’t help when you’re already feeling down. So once you’ve settled in, find time in your days to take a walk, have an indoor yoga session, take a swim anything to work up a little sweat.
7. Treat Yourself
Every once in a while treat yourself to something nice. Buy a nice new dress, make an appointment at the massage parlor, nail salon, have a fancy dinner, anything to boost your mood a little. Life is made to be enjoyed sometimes, especially when we are feeling down and need a pick-me-up.
Careful that your homesickness doesn’t turn into a food binge. Have balanced meals every day, don’t load up on fried or sugary foods. A balanced tummy brings a balanced life.
8. Make some “Me” time
If you’re not already spending too much time alone make sure to carve out some “me” time. Meditation can do wonders for the state of being. You start by thinking about the things that are going on in your life, then work toward removing all thought completely.
It’s not an easy task to let go of all thoughts, especially in an emotionally fragile state. It’s good practice to have 10- 15 minutes meditation first thing in the morning.
How to meditate:
Don’t look at your phone, even to see what time it is; just get out of bed, and spend a few minutes stretching, then sit in a completely quiet room, straight back open mind. Take in a few deep breaths and processes your thoughts for about 2 mins then focus on your thoughts. Listen to the world around you, can you hear birds, neighbors, cars, wind, ants crawling? Then focus solely on your breath.
Doing this for 15- 20 minutes every day can improve brain activity, and reduce mood swings.
9. Find your Hobby
Having a hobby is a great way to make yourself happy and focus thoughts on positive things. If you don’t already have a hobby, you can work on trying different things and see where you find the most pleasure. Start by finding a hobby that doesn’t cost a fortune: painting, drawing, simple photography, volunteering, sewing, etc. Anything can be a hobby so long as you find joy in it.
10. Find your Peeps
Join the community in some way. Getting out and meeting new people can be difficult, more so when there is a language barrier. It doesn’t hurt to try though. English is a common second language for many people all over the world. The more people you meet the more you are likely to find someone or someone to build friendships with. You may even find people from your own country that you can connect with. It may take some time to find your niche but once you do you will begin to feel that sense of belonging.
11. Keep things Positive
It’s so easy to complain and point out what wrong with the world, sometimes it even makes us feel better, but it can also make us feel worst. When we complain we are justifying how our own view is the “right” view and it may become frustrating seeing the faults in your new homeland. Instead, just before you say something negative, take a moment to find what is good in the situation, this may generate more positive things to come to light and all of a sudden you’re a little bit happier.
12. Write it Out
Start a journal. Writing can be an excellent way to vent out all thoughts, feelings, frustrations, concerns, fears, things that make you happy, or excited. It can also be a way to record your journey into the new life you’ve chosen and a few months or years from then you can look back at all the things that used to worry you and feel the strength and wisdom you gained since then more acutely.
13. You need a P.I.C. (Partner in Crime)
Find someone you can confide in. Having a close person who you can unload your thoughts onto can also be helpful. Sometimes it feels good to share miseries and wine with others. It makes for a sense of community and support that will help with the transition of living so far away.
14. Try Something New
Do something new every day, something exciting and thrilling. Maybe you learn how to drive a Vespa (in Florence – trust me, it’s all the adrenaline you’ll need for the rest of your life), try talking to complete strangers, or even better try talking to complete stranger in their language. Life is meant to feel a little scary, awkward and embarrassing sometimes so just roll with the punches and you may find how brave you really can be.
15. Make Home feel like Home
Find ways to make your new place homier. Take the time to decorate your new living space so that it can give you a sense of happiness since that is where you’ll be spending plenty of your time. Taking pride in your new home and set up everything the in a way that helps it feel more like home.
Remember, it’s ok to feel sad or frustrated. It’s definitely not easy being away from the things we know or love. What is important to work a little bit every day to find your happiness and balance. Just take things one step at a time.