When you travel or move to a new place, at first everything is great and exciting – new surroundings, new people, new love of life. And suddenly it happens: A dark cloud casts a shadow on your sunny mind that makes you feel sad, weak and weary. Being homesick is nothing to be ashamed of though. Nearly everyone who travels or moves a lot experiences this feeling once in a while. Although, in my opinion, it’s an intense feeling you should embrace to draw strength and creativity from, there are some possibilities to make it a little more bearable.
What means home in the first place?
When you feel homesick you should first of all ask yourself: What exactly do I miss? “Home” is an extremely elastic concept and its actual meaning varies from person to person. For some it’s defined by the look and smell of the hometown, for some it means spending time with friends and family, for some it means just having a place to retire and be yourself. Only if you find out what “home” means to you, you can, in the next step, find out what will help you against feeling homesick. With these tips I’ll try to find remedies to fight the most common reasons of homesickness.
Home in a box: Things that define home
It is often helpful to have a little collection of things that make you feel at home away from home. Depending on how much space you have in your luggage, that could be some photos of people you care about, a certain blanket, a poster or a hanging (in case you temporarily or permanently move to a new place) or even a teddy or another stuffed animal (no, we are never too old for that 😉 ). What I find especially effective and is great when your luggage is limited: Bring a perfume, shampoo, lotion etc. that reminds you of home or of a time you were really happy. Our odor memory is very strong. A certain smell can literally beam me immediately in the period of my life it reminds me of.
Homey rituals: Activities that define home
Establishing some rituals that make you feel at home is even more effective than having a box of home souvenirs. I have a couples of rituals that, when I feel I’m losing the ground under the feet, nearly always make me find it again, although I can’t really say why. For example, it always calms and comforts me when I have a long and uninterrupted breakfast in the morning. Of course, it especially feels like home when it consists of wholegrain bread, a soft-boiled egg, butter and jam, which reminds me of the Sunday breakfasts with my family. But any other kind of tasty breakfast works for me as well. It also really grounds me to sit in a coffee shop by myself having a hot drink, maybe with a book, maybe with my laptop, or just observing the people around.
I’m sure you have this kind of rituals as well, and if you don’t, it’s now time to establish them. It can be listening to a certain song, watching a certain movie, having a certain food or drink, yoga, meditating, pretty much anything that you can do without many efforts. By having such a ritual you carry a part of your home inside yourself, wherever you go.
Virtual dates: How to make Skype sessions nearly real encounters
For me this might be the most crucial point about being homesick. Usually I don’t really miss things or places, but people like family, friends, or my partner, if I have one. Luckily inventions like Skype allow us to not only talk to, but also see our beloved from all over the world (I heard about some inventions, especially directed to long distance couples, that even allow us to touch them, but this still sounds a little awkward to me).
To use the possibility of skyping efficiently, I like to make skype dates as similar to real encounters as possible. I set a time for the skype session with the person or persons involved and we all take off the whole evening. This might be more difficult if you and your beloved live in different time zones, but then it is still possible to take off a certain period, say at least two hours. Then we can do everything we would if we would meet up at some friend’s house. It’s sometimes a lot of fun to cook or have dinner together, though unfortunately it is nowadays still impossible to let the other person taste one’s food. Also having some drinks and “clink” glasses while skyping makes especially group chats with friends very close to a normal party. And a guy I had a long distance relationship with even suggested we could fall asleep together some night, having the laptop with the webcam on the bedside table.
Of course it’s still not the same as real encounters, and it never will be. But using this technical achievement can be amazingly consoling.
Sleep on it: The oppressive power of night and how to overcome it
The darkness of night can be a weird thing. It shows how much our bodies and minds still work like in primeval times because at night, or even in the late evening already, we are often haunted by plenty of irrational worries and fears. Especially when I have troubles falling asleep for some reason, I worry about pretty much everything, everything looks dark, lonely and threatening, and in this moment I never want to leave the house ever again. But luckily this fears usually pass with daylight. And the next morning everything literally looks brighter. Keeping this in mind already helps to overcome night’s oppressive power. And if it doesn’t I can apply one of the homey rituals.