Homesickness affects people in different ways and at various points during their move. Some may only experience brief moments of nostalgia, while others find themselves missing home more actively than usual for months or even years after moving away.
Here are some things that may help reduce or eliminate the feeling of homesickness:
CEO and Lead Therapist, Naya Clinics
Homesickness is a common and natural feeling primarily caused by longing for the comfort and security of your old home. It’s also caused by sadness for what you have left behind and fear of the unknown.
You miss the predictability of your old life and the support system of your family and friends back home.
It’s definitely not easy to overcome those overwhelming waves of nostalgia, anxiety, and depression. Still, there are steps you can do to make the adjustment process easier and start being happy in your new environment.
Know the root cause of your homesickness
You have to ask yourself if you’re really missing your old life or actually unhappy with your current living situation. If it’s the former, you have to pinpoint exactly what you miss about it.
You may discover that your homesickness has less or nothing to do with your old home and more about missing the security of having a fixed routine. You may realize that you will eventually establish routines in your new environment as you discover the things you want to do and places you like.
Do not obsess over getting in touch with your loved ones
Especially now that technology makes it extremely easy to keep tabs on each other’s lives, there’s no need to worry so much about keeping in touch with family and friends that you left behind.
It doesn’t mean that you will stop caring about them; you just have to avoid the trap of communicating too much that you will prolong your homesickness and make it difficult for yourself to adjust to your new life.
By all means, communicate with your old friends, but remember to make new ones as well.
Discover your new surroundings
Getting to know your new world will help you get over your distress faster compared to just staying at home most of the time.
- You have to open yourself up to new people and new experiences.
- Explore your area and familiarize yourself with the neighborhood. Check out:
- Shopping areas
- Local attractions, etc.
- Get to know what the other people are into in your area and try those experiences yourself.
You will meet new people and make new friends in the process, which will help ease the feelings of homesickness.
Build new routines rather than trying to hold on to your old ones
For people who have moved to another country, intense homesickness can be a symptom of culture shock.
Some expats find culture shock a difficult hurdle to surmount. The most successful expats overcome homesickness and culture shock because they have a learning orientation and proactively work to adjust to their new countries.
Rather than trying to hold on to their old routines and habits, they build new routines that allow them to assimilate into the fabric of their adopted country.
Research-backed tips to adjust to your new country
Adapting to your adopted country requires a lot of adjustment and a willingness to push outside your comfort zone. We identified the characteristics that allow new expats to overcome their homesickness and adapt to a new country.
- Emotional stability – so that you can bounce back when you run into a cultural difference
- Openness to a new experience – the more open you are to new experiences, the more likely you are to overcome homesickness
- Extroversion – which allows you to build social ties that will help you overcome homesickness and become part of the fabric of your new country
People who do not have these characteristics may have to work harder to adjust to their new location.
- If you are struggling with keeping emotional equilibrium, mindfulness can help.
- If you find yourself reluctant to try new things, set yourself the goal of trying one new thing per day or saying “yes” to every new experience that comes up for a week.
- If you are an introvert, make a plan to develop a social life before you move.
- For example, you can join online networking groups that may give opportunities to socialize in person in smaller gatherings.
Founder, Seasoned Spouse | Author, “Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses”
Learning about the five stages of grief can help explain the pain of homesickness
Military families usually do not get to choose their next assignment location, so a move often requires living far from family, not having any local friends, and the family members making numerous sacrifices.
Spouses put significant effort into getting settled and adjusted after a move, only to be uprooted and repeat the process every 2-3 years.
When they leave, there is no guarantee they will ever be able to return to that location. And if they do, their current friends will probably have moved on to other assignments.
Therefore, it is common for military families to experience homesickness in numerous locations.
In my book, Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses, there is a letter addressing the issue of homesickness. It is called “Open When You’re Grieving Your Previous Duty Station.“
The letter acknowledges that the loss and pain experienced after a move can be similar to the pain of grief. After a move, it is difficult to describe why you feel homesick about a previous location. Learning about the five stages of grief can help explain the pain of homesickness.
The letter states:
“Sometimes, a place works its way into your heart until it feels like home, and you never want to leave. Your experiences from all the places you live will be with you forever. Each location becomes a part of who you are, but some places will be harder to leave than others.
In time, you’ll learn to love both your old home and your new one, treasuring the memories from both.
Sometimes your heart takes longer than your household goods to move from one duty station to the next. When you leave a place you love, the new place seems to have nothing to offer. Even when you know you should get out and explore the new location, all you can think about is your old home.
It was beautiful there. You were comfortable there. You had friends there. In comparison, this new location has no appeal yet. You keep feeling a mixture of frustration and great sadness every time you look at photos or see a social media post about your previous assignment.
If this is happening to you, it may be difficult to describe your emotions. While you know rationally you can’t go back, and you need to settle in, your heart refuses to call this new place home.
‘Home’ is the duty station you just left, the one you loved, where you have so many friends and memories. You may wonder how you can be homesick for a place where you only lived temporarily, but you can.
Perhaps you are experiencing emotional swings, and you don’t know what to do about them. It may surprise you to learn that what you are going through is grief.”
John F. Tholen, PhD
Retired Psychologist | Author, “Focused Positivity: The Path to Success and Peace of Mind“
Causes of homesickness following a move
No matter how reasonable our decision to move might have been, we will often experience episodes of remorse about having left our previous home and homesickness related to the positive memories created there.
These feelings can become troubling when we have a great deal of positive regard for the previous home. The new home presents unanticipated challenges (e.g., structural defects, noxious noises or odors, isolation, etc.).
How to manage unwanted feelings
Adverse emotions such as remorse and homesickness are best managed by employing the four steps of focused positivity strategy:
- Becoming more mindful of our thoughts by recording and examining them whenever we are upset,
- Identifying those thoughts that are dysfunctional—causing distress without inspiring corrective steps—that have become the focus of our attention and are disrupting our peace of mind,
- Constructing a list of alternative ideas that are more reasonable, balanced, and functional—reassuring or inspiring constructive action, and
- Systematically refocusing our attention away from the dysfunctional thoughts and toward the functional alternatives.
Thoughts drive actions and feelings
Although it seems that our emotions and actions result directly from the events and circumstances we encounter, they are instead reactions to our self-talk. This internal monologue streams through our waking consciousness, interpreting whatever we experience.
When dysfunctional thoughts are allowed to dominate our attention and infuse our self-talk, we can be inhibited from recognizing (let alone taking) constructive action. We frequently experience adverse emotions—even though dysfunctional thoughts are almost always incomplete, unreasonable, or completely wrong.
We can improve our state of mind-shifting our attention to reasonable alternative ideas more likely to inspire constructive action or hope. This is the focused positivity strategy.
Functional thoughts that can help manage homesickness
When we find ourselves experiencing homesickness or remorse about having moved, we are likely to benefit from refocusing our attention toward functional thoughts such as:
- “I made this move because (list reasons…), and I can create more good reasons by exploring—and taking advantage of—the opportunities available here.”
- “When forced to make a decision, the option selected is usually less important than the follow-through; what will I do to make the selected option have the greatest payoff.”
- “As much as I may look upon my former home with fond longing, I probably would be doubting my decision more had I stayed there.”
- “I’m only human, and—like everyone—I make the choices that seem best given the limits of my knowledge and understanding.”
Self Love Coach, Self Expressed Babe
Create the emotions you’re craving
The best way to deal with homesickness after a move is to intentionally create what you want to feel instead of homesickness.
Tune into your favorite feelings brought on by your old home, your old town, how your family or friends you’ve left behind made you feel, etc. Tune in to the feelings that you want and ask yourself how you can cultivate that same emotion for yourself now.
All emotions are always available to us at all times, so it’s possible to be happy ASAP when you move to a new place. But it takes some reflection, self-awareness, and practice to intentionally feel the feelings you’re craving to get there.
Take note of how you want to feel in a journal, voice note, or post-it note, so you have something to reference back to as you practice creating new emotions.
Some ways to cultivate specific emotions are through:
- Giving yourself a pep talk in the mirror
- Choosing an affirmation to be with for the day
- Questioning your beliefs on what it means to be happy
- Listening to music
Intentionally cultivating how you want to feel will help you in your transition by helping you attract new friends and opportunities. Your vision is always clearer when you’re looking at the bright side of things. How you are feeling, and being is what you will attract more of in your life, no matter where you live.
Give yourself the space to feel that instead of masking it with positivity
On emotionally heavy days, give yourself the space to feel that instead of masking it with positivity. You can do this in a few minutes in the morning and be transformed to take on your day.
Try your best to approach this with acceptance, compassion, and curiosity.
There is no “bad” emotion; it’s all information from our bodies trying to speak to us. Your journey will always be more beneficial when you allow yourself to feel and get still. When I do this, a new realization always comes through intuitively, and it leaves me feeling more centered.
Some ways to release heavy emotions are:
- EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)
- Physical movement paired with breath and sound.
A new path forward
Tuning into how your old environment made you feel can also help you make this new home even better because you just might become aware (for the first time) of the things you didn’t enjoy.
Overall, you’re intentionally creating how you’ll move forward in this chapter in your life so that you can live a life you love living.
Certified Life Transformation Coach, OnlineDivorce
Homesickness is a natural feeling after people leave a place where they were safe and have so many fond memories. As a result, after moving, a person may feel anxiety or even depression. That is why it is so essential to learn how to deal with homesickness.
Here are some great tips to help you feel better:
Allow yourself to experience all the emotions that you experience
The worst thing you can do to yourself is to block, suppress, and ignore your feelings. In the long run, this will only make you feel worse. That is why it is so important to endure sadness and longing for the previous home in a timely manner.
Don’t live in the past
Most likely you had many pleasant moments in your previous home. But it’s crucial to move on. When I moved into my new apartment, I really missed my old house.
Then I found a coffee shop near my new home, where they brewed incredibly delicious coffee. Every morning I took coffee there and returned to my apartment to slowly savor it in my new kitchen. This allowed me to create new pleasant associations with my new home.
Make friends with your neighbors
It is essential to build social contacts. Throw a small housewarming party to get to know your neighbors better. This will help you settle into your new place faster.
Each person should be enjoyed being in their home. So furnish it to your liking. Let your new home be comfortable and reliable. Pay attention to details: soft blankets, fresh flowers, pleasant aroma.
Get enough sleep
Good health is important to adapt to a new home and get rid of feelings of boredom. For this, try to get enough sleep to wake up refreshed.
Medical Reviewer & Addiction Advocate, OK Rehab
It’s completely normal to feel homesick after moving, particularly if you have left behind close friends and family. When my patients come to me about homesickness, I reassure them that it’s normal and provide them with the following tips:
Get involved in your new community
The longer you stay at home and grieve your old lifestyle, the longer you will feel down about your new environment. Instead, try to get involved in your new community by making friends in the area, attending activities, and joining groups on social media.
More often than not, people are happy to have someone new join their neighborhood so they will welcome you with open arms.
Schedule trips back home
It’s always a wise idea to schedule trips back home so that you always have something to look forward to. That way, when you do experience bad days, you can check your calendar and remind yourself that you will be back home before you know it.
Having said that, try not to return back home all the time if you can help it, as this won’t help with the adjustment period.
My patients know how much I love journaling; it works well for every big life transition including moving house.
At first, your entries may look glum as you write about missing home, but they will hopefully look up over time, and you will feel a sense of relief when you see the change in your emotions from the beginning of the journal to the end.
Find a new therapist
Even if nothing else is constant in your life, start attending therapy sessions on a regular basis, and you are bound to feel better about this new transition.
A therapist will help you work through any tricky feelings and come up with coping strategies for when your homesickness gets too much to handle.
Intersubjective Psychotherapist, The Awareness Centre
It can be tough to move to somewhere new and start over again. However, there are ways to make the transition easier and more comfortable for those who make the leap and combat feelings of homesickness.
Make use of technology to stay connected
If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that technology can keep us connected wherever we are in the world. So it’s important to make use of technology to stay connected to those you love, even if you are on the other side of the world.
Perhaps schedule regular calls with family and friends from home, especially when you first move, to bridge the gap between your original home and your new one.
Look around and join organizations
Wherever you’ve moved to, there are likely to be organizations, clubs, and groups aimed at connecting people who are from the same background and culture – especially if you’ve moved from one country to another.
Look around and join some of these organizations to meet people who share your cultural background and understand what it means to be homesick. It can be challenging to explain these feelings to someone who hasn’t experienced it.
If there aren’t any organizations for those who share your cultural background, try looking for organizations based on your interests, such as sports, art, music, and other hobbies.
Keeping busy and meeting like-minded people will help you to distract you from your homesickness but also to feel connected to your new hometown.
Acknowledge your homesickness
It’s okay to take some time to wallow. During this time, take the chance to remember your old home, surroundings, friends, etc. Give your friends and family members a call to reminisce. Look at old photographs and videos, and don’t hesitate to shed a tear if needed.
Don’t stay stuck in this realm of sadness, though. While homesickness can strike at any time, it’s essential to move forward in life. Whether you choose to move on purpose or for other reasons (military, job, etc.), you don’t want to live your life in unhappiness.
After your day of struggling, start the next day fresh. Take a shower, get dressed, and find a unique spot for breakfast. I can guarantee you that there are local hot spots for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that will blow your socks off.
After breakfast, look around and get to know your new environment. Every city has its own “special” and exciting things to check out. For example, Arkansas has “The Crescent Hotel” known for bone-chilling ghostly adventures, while Iowa is home to the gorgeous Spring State Park.
While finding these extravagant places is unique and thrilling, don’t think that everything has to be wildly grand.
Find places that will take your mind off the old and in with the new
Simply finding a new coffee shop that has delicious-tasting coffee can be enough for one to feel grounded in their new area. Others might want to find a gym to engage in their fave workouts, while some will be on the hunt for a church they feel welcomed and loved in.
The goal is to find places that will take your mind off the old and in with the new. This will not only bust boredom and take your mind off homesickness, but it can provide some comfort as it reminds you of home.
It’s time to make new friends
This is one of the most fun parts of moving to a new area. Besides new adventures, restaurants, and sights, you can meet people with distinct personalities you wouldn’t find back home.
There are plenty of ways to find friends in your new town. Facebook and other social media platforms typically have groups you can add to find upcoming events and local fun groups, such as softball teams or art clubs.
If you see something that interests you, sign up for the club or head to the event, and you’ll be engulfed with people who have similar interests – aka, people that could quickly become your new group of friends.
When using social media, try not to get sucked into posts about your hometown or by people in your hometown. Reading posts about your friends – especially ones where they’re hanging out with your old group of buddies – will only deepen your sadness in homesickness. Keep social media at a minimum, especially in the initial months after moving.
Moving to a new area can be difficult, and you’ll have feelings of sadness here and there.
As long as you can pick up the pieces and stay busy, you will be able to diminish these unhappy thoughts and feelings and thrive in your new location.
Embrace the change
Accept that this is not your home, and there will always be things that are different than what you’re used to, and that’s okay. You will always be able to go back home someday and have a great time.
Express your hopes and fears
- Don’t bottle things up inside.
- Share your fears and worries with new friends.
- Reach out for help when you need it.
This will help you face your problems and figure out ways to cope with them.
Setting goals helps give you a sense of purpose. It allows you to feel that there are things that you still need to do in this new place while waiting for the chance to go back home.
Ask yourself questions like:
- “What do I want to get out of my experience in this new place?“
- “What are my goals?“
- “What do I want from life?“
This will help minimize the homesickness.
Stay active and socialize
Going out and doing new things is a great way to pass the time, so do it! You’ll meet many people, new and old, that are going through the same thing you are. It’s good to keep your mind occupied with new things- you’ll never know how much fun it is until you try it!
Learn something new
With all of your time to kill, you can start learning a new language or hobby. This will be good for you even when you go back home too.
Editor-in-Chief, Simple n’ Delight
My many moves have taught me to be more resilient and look on the bright side. Here are my top tips to deal with homesickness after moving:
Keep yourself active
This is a must when you feel homesick. Keeping yourself busy with things you love is very important. Read, run, clean, organize your new space, whatever you love to do, do it! This will keep your mind off of homesickness.
Join a class/club/society
Meeting new people can really help to deal with homesickness after moving.
The easiest way to meet new people is to volunteer or join a class or club. This will give you something to do with your time that makes you feel valuable. Even the most socially awkward among us can feel comfortable when engaging with something they are interested in.
Find time to connect to people from your home
It is important to find the time to connect with people from your old community. This will give you a continued feeling of connection and make you feel less homesick.
Make plans to get to know your new city
Whether you’re living in a new city or a new community, find the time to discover what is available.
When I moved to a new suburb, I would take different walks every day and discover new paths, stores, and parks. Take pictures of your new community and discover the secret beauty that it has to offer.
Make your home feel comfortable
Make the inside of your new home cozy. If you like plants, get some plants. If you don’t like the color, repaint. Make sure your new home represents your personality. This will make you feel more at ease within your environment.
If you find yourself low on funds for this type of project, check out Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji, or Value Village for some cheaper inspiration!
CEO, The African Garden
Allow yourself to feel the sadness of your situation, but don’t let it consume you
The most important thing to do when experiencing homesickness after moving is to avoid giving this feeling a timeline. No set amount of time will pass and leave you suddenly feeling better.
Instead of trying to ignore the issue until it goes away, you should acknowledge these feelings and accept them. This is not something that you can control, so don’t stress yourself out trying to do just that.
You should allow yourself to feel the sadness of your situation, but try not to let it consume you.
Build new relationships and explore your new surroundings
It is completely normal to need to take some time to adjust after moving away from your previous home and environment. Instead of hanging on to thoughts of all of the things you have lost, try to embrace everything new. Building new relationships and exploring your new surroundings can help you to start feeling like yourself again.
Finally, I recommend that you try to create new routines, as this will help you adapt better to your new situation.
Try to establish new ways of living that are different from your old ones. You could consider getting a new pet dog or fish if you don’t want to commit too much. Alternatively, you could find a new favorite coffee spot to unwind in. Eventually, your new routine will become old news as you establish your new life.
As someone who has moved quite one time too many, I know that homesickness can be debilitating. Sometimes, it feels like everything at your new place isn’t working. You miss the people, the environment, and the aura of home when you move.
But just like everything else, homesickness induced by moving can be dealt with by doing the following.
Have a routine
Routines may be boring, but they are efficient when it comes to building familiarity with a new place. Going back to a routine you had before moving helps you handle the anxiety that comes with moving to a new place with relative ease.
Routine is not just about what you do or the complex things in life. Simple things like sleeping times, eating, and dealing with things can help you bring some normalcy back into your life after moving.
Make some new friends in your new community
Having a support structure, even if it’s a new one really helps with handling homesickness.
Homesickness is often brought out by feeling disconnected from things around you. Making new friends with people who have been in your new environment for longer will help you find points of connection to the environment.
Besides, friends can also have your back when you are down with homesickness.
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