Dealing with Homesickness after Moving
Everyone is familiar with that dull aching feeling in the pit of your stomach. From an early age of going away to summer camp to going off to college or relocating for work as an adult, homesickness rears its head throughout our lives. Very often, it follows on the heels of really exciting periods of transition. For many people, it is but a slight ache or nervousness at the thought of abandoning everything they know and starting over somewhere new. For others, however, it can take much more serious forms.
Moving is a very common reason for feeling homesick. If the excitement about your new prospects is overpowering any anxiety that might be following in its footsteps – great! You can focus on making the most out of your new beginning and not fret too much about the past. On the other hand, homesickness can be much more debilitating for some people. You might be experiencing relocation homesickness as intense feelings of anxiety, fear, or sadness. In the case of international relocation, homesickness can be particularly tricky to cope with. So, if you are in need of some tools for dealing with homesickness after moving, read on.
Define your feelings
Unless you are able to identify your feelings of homesickness, it can be quite difficult to know how to remedy them. Homesickness is not just about missing your home. It finds its roots in our need for security and connection. So, it is understandable that uprooting yourself from almost everything and everyone you know would cause a lot of stress, no matter how positive that change might turn out to be. In order to help yourself, you have to sort out whether you are homesick because you miss your old life, or if your anxiety comes from someplace else. A report published by the Academy of Pediatrics states that there are four main risk factors for homesickness:
- Experience – your previous experiences of separation and moving into the unknown;
- Attitude – homesickness is more likely to occur with individuals who have previous negative experiences of separation and low expectations of their new circumstances;
- Personality – people who are rigid with low self-directedness, high harm avoidance, and a wishful-thinking coping style are more prone to homesickness;
- Outside factors – how much you wanted to move in the first place and how your loved ones are taking it.
Homesickness can also often be increased or expedited in the relocations that result in culture shock. It is often described as a feeling of disorientation when moving from one cultural environment into another. It often happens in four phases: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment, and adaptation.
However, each of these phases is rife with many different problems an individual could experience, such as a language barrier, information overload, boredom, etc. For some people, the later phases can be marked by intense feelings of homesickness and even depression after the relocation. Depression as a consequence of such change can be very difficult to shake. This is why it is important to take your feelings seriously.
Give yourself time
One of the kindest things you can do for yourself if dealing with homesickness after moving is not to rush. Everyone deals with transitions differently. Some people will feel homesick in the first couple of weeks and then get on with their lives. For others, it won’t even present itself at first while they’re busy dealing with the ins and outs of their move. Once they settle in, it can really hit them hard. So whatever the case with you, give yourself time to feel your feelings. Always bear in mind that they will pass, no matter how intense they might feel at the moment.
You should always remember that homesickness after moving is situational. Feeling sad or nervous after the relocation is not the same as having anxiety or depression. As mentioned, it is important to feel your feelings, but also not to wallow in them. You should definitely reach out to your friends and family when you miss them or are feeling sad, but you need to also start taking the steps to integrate into your new situation.
If you put a little thought into it, you’ll be able to replicate many of the things that brought you joy at your old place. Perhaps you loved the routine of going to your yoga class every Saturday morning. Find a class nearby and start going. You might even meet some new people there! Using your nostalgia as a point of inspiration is a great way to build a happy life after a move.
Making friends becomes harder and harder as the years go on. There is no school or soccer team to force you into each other’s lives anymore. However, it isn’t impossible. If you’re new in a city, you can take a class or volunteer at an organization to ensure you get to add people to your network. Chances are that those people will share some of your interests and values. There are also many apps you can try to meet people.
This might sound like a fairly basic tip, but moving to a city in which you don’t know anyone might make you stay in a lot. If you are dealing with homesickness after moving, this can really mess with your head. So, go out, explore the neighborhood, find some spots you like, and try to enjoy your solitude for a little bit.
Ask for help
While it comes and passes for many people, dealing with homesickness after moving can get quite intense for others. If you feel like you are losing your footing and are unable to shake it, you may want to seek help from a counselor or therapist. Talking it out with someone will probably be just what the doctor ordered. Don’t hesitate to provide yourself with support in whatever way you need during this transition.