Separating from Family and Friends

Moving away from home may cause you to experience homesickness, a longing for home and family and familiar routines. Homesickness isn’t exactly about either home or sickness. Instead, it stems from our needs for love, protection, and security–feelings and qualities usually associated with home. Homesickness can strike when you move to new surroundings and experience new situations, people, and demands.

If you are feeling homesick, it’s tempting to call, text, or e-mail your family daily. Modern technologies make it easy to do so, so you’ll need to learn to manage their use in a healthy way. Don’t jeopardize one of the main goals of living on your own – to prepare for life as an independent adult – by going overboard. While you and your parents will benefit from staying connected, you also need to keep some space of your own to become a mature and independent adult.

Overcoming Homesickness

Try these tips if you’re experiencing homesickness:

  1. Stay engaged. Join clubs or groups that fit your interests. Student government, religious and faith-based organizations, hobby groups, athletic teams, and theater can all lessen feelings of homesickness. Attend sporting events at your college or in your community.
  2. Establish a personal routine. Follow a routine that is comfortable for you. For example, maintain familiar times for eating and sleeping. Continue to engage in your favorite sports and activities.
  3. Exercise.  Exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week. Whenever possible, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk instead of riding, bike instead of driving, go to the gym instead of watching television or playing video games, Try out different sports such as volleyball or rock climbing.
  4. Volunteer. Find a place where you can help others a few hours a month. Choose to volunteer at a place that matches your interests. You might find opportunities at a local hospital, nursing home, school, or recreation center.
  5. Do something to feel closer to home. Write a letter, enjoy looking at a family photo album, or create a handmade gift for a family member. Decorate your dorm room or apartment with pictures of your family, friends, and hometown. Find a restaurant that serves your favorite foods.
  6. Make plans. You can make time go by faster by making plans with your family and friends to come and visit you. You can make plans to visit family and friends during holidays or vacations.
  7. Talk to someone. Seek out people who either understand what you’re going through or have similar feelings. Call home regularly, but not every day. Seek professional help, if needed.
  8. Embrace your new life. Be realistic about your feelings of homesickness. Understand  that your feelings are normal. Accept that you made the choice to leave home and that change is part of life.

While homesickness feels painful, it also presents you with an opportunity to grow. It challenges you to take charge of your life and to learn new skills for dealing with your emotions. When you work to master homesickness, you can increase your range of comfortable experiences, which usually leads to increased self-esteem and a sense of greater independence.

Does leaving home for the first time feel like a little more than you can handle?

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