Homesickness, Loneliness and Mental Health
Homesickness is the distress caused by being away from home. It preoccupies our thoughts with memories of home and our attachment to the people associated with home. It results in sadness, maybe partial depression and anxiousness. Homesickness effects everybody in one way or another. Whether it is going away to university, moving to a different country for work or even just to travel and gain a little more life experience. It’s extremely difficult to be away from the ones you love for long periods of time and it does impact ones mental health. However, there are some ways to deal with it and make it easier to cope.
Why we get it?
For most of us, we grow up surrounded by a family (big or small) who make us feel loved and safe. When we get to the teenage years we want some independence, perhaps more than we can handle and may take being at home for granted by wanting to grow up too quickly. Therefore, once we leave it can come as a shock to the system. The sudden reality that you are, for the most, part by yourself. Even if you are happy to have independence once you get to university or move elsewhere for a new job, you could just miss your loved ones. Especially if you are away from home for several months. It is possible to feel different types of homesickness. Homesickness could occur because you miss your parents, it could be because you are apart for your significant other or it could be your high school sweetheart and you’re in the mists of a long distant relationship because you’ve ended up at different universities. It could also be because your husband or wife has to work abroad for one reason or another. Similarly, you could be working abroad and have a husband or wife and kids at home and you want to be with them.
How it makes us feel?
It is a struggle through lots of different emotions as well as some physical symptoms:
|Physical Symptoms||Emotional Symptoms/Feelings|
|Lack of concentration||Sadness|
|Disrupted sleep pattern||Loneliness|
|Difficulties eating||Detatched from social situations|
|Spending an excessively long time in the shower||No joy gained from fun activities|
|Negative thoughts that do not go away (internal dialogue)||Sinking feeling|
It is normal to feel all these things while going through the motions of homesickness. Sometimes it will hit you hard when you wake up in the morning, probably because your used to having breakfast with your family or just used to being around people more often. It comes in waves, you could remember a fond memory from home even if you’re in the middle of coffee with new friends. It takes some time to get comfortable with your new flatmates and getting to know them.
How to deal with it.
Remember that you are not alone. The Student Housing Company have found that three quarters of students suffer from it. Even if you are a home-student and you feel homesick, there are many other home-students who feel the same. Furthermore, there are international students who are further away from home and know what you are feeling.
- Remember to keep busy! It is important not to just sit in your room, try to meet new people
- Go out and discover where you are living and find places that you could enjoy, a coffeeshop, a new spot for lunch or even some leisure or sports activities.
- Join some university societies/clubs. You will keep busy and meet new people.
- Get a part-time job, this will give you something else to focus on and you could earn a bit of extra money.
- If everything starts to get a bit too much, make sure you talk to someone, don’t bottle it up.
- If you struggle in social situations and find that all the Freshers’ parties and the copious amounts of new people. You can always take a night to yourself, watch a movie and call home to catch up with your family.
- There is always wellbeing counsellors at universities and it is their job to make sure that you can talk to them and that your mental health is in good condition.
Homesickness does have quite an impact on mental health. It is crucial to remember that you are not alone, you can always meet new people and that your loved ones are only a phone call away.