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Returning To Happiness: How To Cope With Homesickness After a Move

Returning To Happiness: How To Cope With Homesickness After a Move

Home is typically where friends, family, and familiar places are located, but when you make the decision to move all of that can change. Even the shortest trip away from home can trigger homesickness. Fortunately, these feelings are short-lasted, but it can be difficult to acclimate to new circumstances when moving away from home no matter how far away it is.

In the beginning, it may seem like your decision to move was the wrong one. However, knowing how to identify homesickness symptoms, causes, and understanding the different methods to deal with the challenges of homesickness pain can help.

What is Homesickness?

As defined by Christopher Thuber, Ph.D., and Edward Walton, MD in a clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, homesickness is the “distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects.” It is human nature to make attachments to people that we have grown up with such as parents and friends from work or school. The places that we frequent such as childhood homes, work, and other places of leisure become our norm. Leaving these things behind can cause temporary distress and panic that lingers until we recognize what has caused it and how to alleviate it.

Symptoms of Homesickness

According to Adele Wilde, psychotherapist, and counselor, some common homesickness symptoms are feelings of nostalgia, loneliness, and insecurity. It is possible that people may experience loss of appetite, withdrawal, and insomnia. However, it is important to note that if any of these homesickness symptoms persist it is a good idea to seek help from a clinician for further diagnoses.

“It can take time to adjust to new surroundings, and as humans we naturally tend to resist change,” Wilde said.

Sverre Lysgaard introduced what eventually developed into the four stages of culture shock: the honeymoon stage, frustration, adjustment, and acceptance. Many individuals go through these stages when experiencing homesickness pain in relation to moving.

The honeymoon phase consists of feelings of excitement as you explore your new home and anticipate the great things that can come from the move.

Following this is the frustration stage characterized by the beginning of homesickness symptoms. Constantly comparing your new home to your old can lead to feelings of nostalgia. Frustration can stem from your inability to do things in the same ways as you are used to due to a change in your way of life.

The next stage is ‘adjustment’, in which you may not have completely overcome your homesickness pain, but you start to familiarize yourself with your new life and have less frequent thoughts about your old life.

In the final stage of acceptance, you have essentially overcome homesickness and have adjusted to the new environment by replacing the negative feelings towards moving with positive ones.

What To Do If You’re Homesick From Moving

In their clinical report, Thuber and Walton recommended various ways to help with homesickness pain, including distracting yourself with social connections, seeking support systems, and keeping in contact with those back home.

Psychologist Tamar Chansky advises people to make new connections by joining social groups, sparking conversations at outings or work, and being open to new experiences to help minimize homesickness.

“There are small things you can do to feel more connected to where you are, or you can lean into the things that make you feel most at home,” Chansky said.

In addition to new experiences, seeking out a support system in your new environment can also help with homesickness in case there is a new wave of homesickness pain. You will have your family and friends from back home, but creating a small network of those who can look out for you in your new home will ensure you are not relying on the past environment for feelings of reassurance thus causing you to feel more homesick.

According to Dr. Caroline Shuster, homesickness symptoms are like that of depression. Speaking with professionals about feelings of depression or anxiety can also help to pinpoint why your homesickness has not gone away if it lasts longer than normal.

It is good to remember that your loved ones back home are always only one phone call or text message away from you. It is normal to keep in regular contact with the people you miss, but you shouldn’t spend so much time holding onto these relationships that you end up missing out on the opportunities and reasons for your move in the first place.