Homesickness can take many forms. You may be a young student who is venturing off to college to live on your own for the first time. Or, you might be relocating from your hometown to a different state or country for a career change.
In any case, moving far away can take a heavy toll on your mental health. You are not just distancing yourself from things that are physically familiar, like your house and favorite restaurants and hangout spots. You’re also moving away from your family and friends, the people who define your comfort zone.
Homesickness is common during any transition, as it’s characterized by a longing for the familiar.
No matter how hard you’re feeling it, here are 5 tips to help you through this significant adjustment period.
1) Consider Getting an Emotional Support Animal
An emotional support animal can drastically improve your mental health during a drastic transition. One will offer companionship, alleviate feelings of loneliness, and offer opportunities to increase social interaction and engagement.
Emotional support animals have even been known to help normalize blood pressure and heart rate and decrease stress hormones in your body.
Contrary to popular belief, emotional support animals do not have to be dogs or cats. If you don’t want a large pet or don’t have the space to keep one, you can even get an emotional support rat, gerbil, or another small animal.
2) Tap Into Nostalgia
Nostalgia doesn’t have to only be about the past. Think about the things that made you happy back home and find ways to incorporate them into your new environment.
Were you part of a band or orchestra in your hometown? Find a new group to play for in your current area.
Do you miss your aunt’s famous fudge brownies? Ask her to mail you a batch. Better yet, you can give her a call, get the recipe, and attempt to make them yourself. This will help you stay in touch with her and give you a literal taste of your hometown.
3) Get Out of the House
During the first few weeks in your new city, you may feel tempted to isolate yourself inside. At first, your new home will feel like the only place that is semi-familiar to you.
It may feel difficult, but you should make an effort to get outside. This will prevent your home from becoming a trap that keeps you from fully taking in your new environment.
At least once a day, make a conscious choice to get outside and interact with your new area. Visit local attractions and eat at nearby restaurants. Even just walking on a new street will facilitate interactions and help you meet people in your new town.
4) Stay on Top of Your Health
You should always take care of your physical health. However, this part of adulting becomes even more important when you are experiencing a stressor like homesickness.
Try to exercise often, which can be as much as five days a week for 30 minutes each day. Regular exercise can diminish both short- and long-term anxiety and depression, which will be beneficial during your transition to a new home.
Combine exercise with social activities. Join a spin class or runner’s club and make friends with people who have similar fitness goals. They can help you stay motivated and fulfill your social interaction needs.
5) Remember that Homesickness is Temporary
Unlike mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, homesickness is temporary. It’s situational, so you will adjust with time. Don’t worry if you don’t immediately feel at peace in your new city.
Make an effort to stay in touch with your friends and family back home. Maintaining ties will make your transition much easier.
If you feel you need professional assistance, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a therapist or counselor who can help ease your adjustment.