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How can I Relieve Homesickness?

Michael Pollick
Updated Feb 17, 2024
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The feelings of nostalgia and longing that many people experience when away from home for an extended period of time are quite common and natural. Homesickness can cause people to become less focused on their current responsibilities or even become depressed and unmotivated. Whether it is a college student living in a college dormitory for the first time or a soldier assigned to overseas duty, these feeling can become a serious matter that need to addressed. Both creating a space that reminds you of home and finding ways to be more present in your current environment can help you relieve homesickness.

One thing you can do is to create a personal space and fill it with small reminders of home. Photographs of friends and family, mementos of special events, greeting cards from loved ones, or newspaper clippings from a hometown newspaper can all be used to create a comforting emotional connection. When feelings of sadness and loneliness become too much to handle, a few minutes spent in that personal space may help you gain some perspective on the present versus the past.

Another way to relieve homesickness is to make a conscious effort to live in the present. The decision to leave your familiar environment may not have been completely yours to make, but there can be comfort in the old adage to "bloom where you are planted." By taking a more active interest in your present environment, you may be able to push any unhappy feelings to your mind's back burner. Staying productive or actively engaged in the present is a good way to keep thoughts of the past or future in check.

Many people find that missing home never fully goes away, but it does ebb and flow. When you are feeling extremely homesick, a short but meaningful call to a relative or friend may be enough to calm your feelings of anxiety or isolation. Reading a hometown newspaper online or subscribing to a print newspaper from home can also provide enough of a connection to keep you up to date without becoming consumed with sadness.

Forming new friendships may also help you feel less homesick while away temporarily. By sharing details of your own hometown with others who may also be missing home, you may find strength in numbers. Almost everyone has stories about a favorite restaurant, teen hang-out, or other local attraction, so swapping stories can be a good way to see how others are coping with their own feelings.

Some people who have a very difficult overcoming the effects of extreme homesickness may need to seek professional or pastoral counseling in order to gain some perspective. Prescription drugs for anxiety or depression may also help certain people elevate their moods and stop intrusive thoughts from forming in the first place. Eventually, however, many people find their own ways of coping, and the debilitating pangs of missing home lessen in time.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments
By anon936775 — On Mar 03, 2014

I've been in college for almost a year now and still can't seem to get better. I feel as sad as when I first started. Sometimes I get really homesick and can't seem to stop crying. It's a horrible feeling of loneliness that takes my hunger away. I think it's best if I returned home once this semester is over.

By feasting — On Dec 21, 2012

I used to get really homesick when I would go on vacation with someone other than my family as a kid. I would be homesick for a day or two, but then, I would finally learn to enjoy myself for the rest of the vacation.

After I went to the ocean for the first time as a teenager, I found myself getting homesick for the ocean after leaving instead of for home while I was there. I felt like I belonged at the beach, and everything about the lifestyle, culture, and nature there beckoned to me.

I decided to live there after graduation, and I have never regretted this decision. I found my place through a new sort of homesickness that didn't involve missing people. I knew that I didn't want to live anywhere else ever again.

By orangey03 — On Dec 20, 2012

Keeping mementos of home around only makes me more homesick. Looking at a photo of someone I can't be with or a chair from my old home just makes me want to cry.

I have to go the other route and totally make everything new. I will not be able to move forward if I have relics of the past sitting around, dragging me backward.

Having all new furniture and art helps me focus on the now. Making new friends keeps me in the present.

By giddion — On Dec 19, 2012

@cloudel – You must not have had a very nice experience at home. Most people who come from good homes experience some degree of homesickness the first time they go away for awhile.

Just about all my college friends were homesick for the first half of the first semester. Some of us even got physically sick because of this. I felt nauseous on a daily basis.

By cloudel — On Dec 19, 2012

I didn't know that homesickness in adults was all that common! I experienced homesickness as a child, but once I turned eighteen, I wanted to be as far away from home as I could get! I left for college and never came back.

By cupcake15 — On Sep 01, 2010

Sunshine31- I think that volunteering in the community and doing charity work will really help you combat college homesickness.

It takes the focus off the isolation and loneliness that you feel because you are now focusing on someone else’s needs. Volunteer work can be very therapeutic when dealing with homesickness in college.

You can also meet like-minded people that are altruistic and enjoy helping people. Charitable work often brings out the best in people, so it is a great place to go when you are homesick.

You will probably find someone that will lend a compassionate ear and you will suddenly start to feel better. This really helps to deal with homesickness at college in a positive way.

By sunshine31 — On Sep 01, 2010

Mutsy- Wow that must have been hard for you. I understand that when learning how to deal with homesickness in college most people suggest bringing familiar pictures and mementos.

I think that while it is important to a degree, you should not get so focused on the past that you can’t move on.

People don’t mind hearing a little about your past, but if that is all that you talk about and don’t show interest in them, then people will get bored with you and it will make you feel worse.

By mutsy — On Sep 01, 2010

Sevenseas- I am glad everything worked out for you. I know that I experienced signs of homesickness when I moved from New Jersey as a teenager, to Florida.

I started my junior year in high school in Florida and it was a difficult transition. I think you and the writer make a good point when you say that you have to surround yourself with people and learn all that you can about the area.

I was determined to go back to New Jersey to be with my friends and that I actually made an already difficult transition even harder. My mother made the decision to move because my sister was having a baby and she wanted to be closer to her.

As a mom, I certainly understand this decision and I think she made the right one, but at the time it was hard for me to understand.

By sevenseas — On Feb 22, 2010

Twice in my life I have made major moves, not just to the neighboring town, but moved to a different country.

Here are some of my personal observations. When I moved the first time, I was very young, and I moved in with a family so in a way I left my family and substituted it with another family with its daily routine and structure, so the change even though enormous was not unbearable. On the contrary I immersed myself into the new life, habits, customs, language and loved all of it. I worked, studied and was constantly surrounded by people.

I did co-respond with my family and made yearly trips to visit them and that was very helpful.

I did not realize it at the time, but looking back I see now that I have left that life behind, my carefree, innocent childhood, and moved toward the future in creating my own life.

On my second move it was actually more difficult. The reason being I did not move into another family situation, I had to create my own. Also the distance and finances were prohibitive for me to make yearly trips to get the loving boost from my parents, siblings and the community.

The conclusion I came up with is this: moving away from home is definitely difficult, not only because we are leaving behind the comfort, the love, and acceptance of our home and family, but ultimately moving away from home means growing up, becoming our own person, being able to stand on our own without the netting that our families provide.

That of course is difficult, it is difficult because it is not just a move away from home, it is a move from childhood into adulthood, from known into unknown, from carefree into really finding out what we are made of, and that part is difficult for all of us. This process can actually take place any time during a lifetime.

In conclusion, help yourself in this process, in alleviating homesickness, by surrounding yourself with people. Learn all you can about yourself and the world, and call or co-respond with your family as often as you can. Ultimately, know that you are on a new, your own, path of your life.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range...
Learn more
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