What is Homesickness and How to Beat it
Posted on 1st June 2023 at 11:30
After a busy summer of comings and goings it really feels like the relocation industry is getting back to its old self. So, we decided it would be a good time to offer some advice to the new arrivals regarding homesickness and how to deal with it.
What is Homesickness?
In the past, we looked down on homesickness as a weakness or as evidence as immaturity, it may have suggested you weren’t “ready” for the move, or you were “afraid” but it turns out that this isn’t the case.
There is research to suggest that the feeling of homesickness has always been a part of our make-up ever since humans have been on earth, and what goes on in our brain isn’t so much to do with sadness or longing for loved ones that we had left behind, but more to do with survival.
It seems to come from a lack of control and comfort. In the past it would be risky to move to another place where you didn’t know the landscape and the climate, you might risk starving to death or being eaten by a predator. Today we have no such worries, but the feelings of comfort and control are still very much prevalent in our day-to-day existence. Feeling out of place and lost is more to do with us wanting to fit in with the social culture rather than it being a literal case of life and death, but the brain acts in the same way as it would have in the first chapters of humanity.
Homesickness can manifest in different ways. Firstly, you are likely to have the familiar feeling of anxiety when presented with something unknown, this is normal. But over time, if not dealt with, this can manifest into depression, which can affect your sleep and your eating habits which ends up throwing you into a vicious cycle of tiredness, hunger, and sadness.
We are very complex creatures. A smell or a sound can trigger something inside us that manifests into a memory which then mutates into a longing for what we used to have. Change can be uncomfortable, and often is. When relocating we are making a huge change, where we leave behind our friends and family. We leave behind our comfort and familiarity in the search of something new and exciting. It may be centered around missing loved ones or missing your old home and habits. Either way, it’s normal to feel this way and it won’t last forever. It won’t take control of you, if you understand why you are feeling this way and find ways to overcome it.
How to Deal With it
There is no universal cure for homesickness. Everyone is different. However, there are many things that we can practice to overcome these feelings and make the most of our experience in a new place.
It’s OK to speak about your feelings with someone. If you have moved with another person this is perfect as they are probably having similar feelings. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge how you feel and get it off your chest. If you have moved by yourself, you can speak with someone back home or a new friend, a boss or a colleague. Most people are more sympathetic than you think and just the process of talking about how you feel can often make you feel better and more comfortable.
Links to home
Your previous home will always hold a special place in your heart. You will always have fond memories and connections that are sometimes hard to leave behind. But you haven’t thrown them in the bin just because you moved somewhere else. Embrace these memories with pictures or a journal that will remind you of previous comforts. Over time you will see new memories that you have made in your new home are infiltrating your collection, and with that you will begin to feel more at home in your new location.
It's a good idea to plan a visit back home. You don’t want to be going back all the time, but if you find it easier to transition into your new life with gentle visits back to your old one, then do it. You’ll see that the people and the places that you left behind are doing just fine, and while they love having you back, they will understand that you have an exciting life somewhere else and will be pleased for you.
Mix and Mingle
For some people it seems easy to meet new people and make new friends. For some others it is a daunting task and an experience we’d rather avoid. But – everyone finds it hard at first. The people that seemingly meet new friends with ease can only do that because they have more practice.
Take the plunge and make the effort to make new friends, join new friendship groups and try new things. This will make you feel a sense of belonging which may be just what you needed. www.meetup.com is a great place to find local clubs and events that match with your interests.
To summarise: Feeling homesick is a normal human reaction that even the most travelled expat will feel. It’s not incurable and it’s not something that needs to negatively impact your experience.
Having the opportunity to move to a new country and experiencing a new way of living is something that most people dream about. And you’re living it! So, make the most of it. Moving to a new country has proven to improve your decision making, your knowledge, your ability to make connections, and all of these things are vital to our personalities.
What you are doing now could be the best experience of your life, as long as you let it!
Share this post: