In the third and last part of these series of articles exploring homesickness, I will continue giving suggestions about how to deal with homesickness and also offer some tips on taking care of your physical and emotional health.
Laugh, Stay calm & Be positive!
Humour, remaining calm and a positive mental attitude can help you dealing with unpleasant situations that often trigger homesickness.
There are many situations where you may feel frustrated and overwhelmed: you are trying to ask for information in the city hall and no one speaks a language you understand, you are late for work because your train was cancelled, someone stole your bike, you received a bill that was wrongfully addressed to you…etc.
Whatever the situation breath in and out, stay calm, think positive and laugh about it! You would be surprised by the results.
Booking a trip to visit home, or a vacation trip (even a weekend getaway) can be a great way to recharge your batteries and have fun. It works miracles! If your homeland is too far away, the tickets are expensive, or you can only leave your work/ studies for the weekend, just take a one or two short trip to recharge yourself. Make sure you don’t overdo it, visiting home too often may eventually make you feel even more homesick.
Talking about being homesick with your partner, family, friends, co-workers, roommates, a therapist or someone you can confide in will comfort you and make your transition easier. Sharing with your loved ones via skype or even over the phone, rather than repressing your feelings will definitely give you some relief. They may not know what to do, but it will give them an idea of what you are going through.
However, it is essential to build a support network in the place where you live now, to have people that care for you and will stand by you in times of trouble. While it is helpful to talk with people back home, it is essential to make new friends in your new surroundings.
Keep in mind that your friends and family may have good intentions but may not be able to help you process and deal with your feelings adequately. In such times, ask someone outside the situation with professional knowledge on matters of emotional health, such as a counsellor or a psychotherapist, for support to improve your emotional well-being.
If you want to be healthy you need to take care of both your physical and your emotional health. Your body responds to the way you think, feel and act (mind/body connection). When you feel sad, anxious or frustrated your body reflects your emotional state by showing you that something is not right with physical symptoms.
Poor emotional health affects the body
Poor emotional health can weaken the body’s immune system thus making you vulnerable to colds, infections and other health issues especially during or after difficult and stressful times. When your emotional well-being is out of balance you may not eat nutritious food, feel like exercising and neglect yourself.
You may also try to numb the painful feelings by finding comfort in alcohol, food, shopping, tobacco, drugs and other coping strategies that give you a temporary relief. Talk to your friends and family about how you feel and what you are going through.
Give your body some TLC
A simple way to take care of your physical health and also brighten up your mood a little bit is exercise. When you are overwhelmed by thoughts and feelings about home, go for a brisk walk in the park or a run, work out at home or join a gym, bike, go for yoga, pilates, aerobic, martial arts…whatever method you choose to give your body some TLC and improve your physical fitness is great.
Exercise helps in the release of endorphins that give a natural boost to your mood. It increases self-confidence and may help with symptoms of mild anxiety and depression, it improves your sleep and lowers your stress levels. Exercise and you will feel better.
Remember that unhealthy coping strategies such as alcohol or drugs, a poor diet, little physical activity, a sedentary lifestyle, having poor coping skills and poor emotional resilience will lead to physical illness and distress.
Invest in your physical & emotional health
People who have good emotional health have learned healthy ways to cope with challenging stressful situations. They are aware of their thoughts, feelings and behaviours, they feel good with themselves, have a positive view of life, don’t sweat about the small stuff and solve their problems appropriately. They are able to support themselves (be self-sufficient) and also seek support from the environment (friends, family, therapist…) when it is necessary.
People with good physical health eat regular nutritious meals, exercise frequently, get enough sleep and don’t abuse alcohol, drugs or other addictive “comfort” resources.
Invest in your physical and emotional health, take the time and energy to care for both your mind and body. I believe people can find a balance, learn specific skills to improve the quality of their daily life and their relationships, and make positive steps towards a fulfilling life. If only they choose to…
A chance to grow
Singing the homesick blues is a common reality among us expats. Don’t look at it simply as a battle to overcome. See it also as a chance to grow and make lasting changes in your life. There are people, places or things you miss from home that are dear to you and worth remembering, but at the same time be open to great experiences and the amazing people you can meet in your new surroundings.
Remember that you are the master of your own life, you are responsible for your choices and the quality of your life. If you realise in a few years that your new location doesn’t work for you, go somewhere else. Life is too short and unpredictable not to live it exactly as you please!