Sick of being homesick?

Growing up in a rainy UK, I knew I would have to get out.

Me, a sun loving teenager with an open and expressive attitude to life, trapped within grey skies and a country with administration and social regulation. It just did not feel like it was meant for me.

At the earliest, most convenient opportunity, I head off. Finally..out of here.

Only I failed. I discovered that I am in fact incredibly British in my outlook and manner and missed our uniformity in humour and the ability to stand in an organised queue.

I tried again. Failed.

A third time with further success but with an ongoing internal battle.

Similar to post traumatic distress, I get flashes. Only, without recollection of terror, I envisage fir trees that I was happy to exchange for palm trees, deep dark clouds and cosy nights, a lit fire and laughter from friends that know me more than I sometimes know myself. I can smell the factories nearby my home, the ones that we would complain about, potentially damaging our health. I can feel the umbrella in my hand and the drop of rain thats missed and worked its way down my back. I hear the children, a little misguided, running and playing more aggressively than they should outside our door. I miss the familiarity, I miss my family. I miss home.

Initially, I wrote this off as a sign of weakness. I clearly lack an ability to live life as an independent human being – or is it that I am never satisfied? Potentially I am greedy, just wanting it all; home and away. Always wanting to sit on the other side of the fence?

Yet homesickness is a real problem experienced by many. An anxiety associated separation from a familiar object or being, it is associated with social problems, behaviour problems, significant symptoms of anxiety, depression and poor coping techniques. Jesus Navas the famous footballer, suffered so badly with homesickness it affected which teams he was able to play for.

As an adult, it can be hard to reverse the difficulties of coping away from your family home. Resolving any anxiety or depressive symptoms should be addressed promptly, along with maintaining a regular contact between you and those that you miss. Make skype calls, send items between your new country and home. Yet remember to build a solid social network where you are currently residing to become embedded and socially distracted. Try hobbies not possible back in your home country to establish a novelty and excitement with where you are living.

The effects of homesickness can be even more pronounced in children however – yet more readily rectifiable. Training your children now to cope when alone and away from their creature comforts may be a useful tool that helps them to feel settled and rested when they flee the nest as a grown up adult. Hard for you, but potentially better for them. They need to be able to cope without you…

Educate children that homesickness is normal. Explain that they will miss things about home when they are away but that they will be ok.
Take the child to any new long stay environment for a visit first. Visit summer camps if possible, boarding schools or day centres prior to dropping them off.
Try to remain calm yourself. Demonstrating your own anxieties can disturb children and make them uneasy about time apart.
Involve children. Make them feel it is part of their decision to spend some time apart.
Try mini trips and time away first. Jumping to long term separation can be very traumatic for a little one. As mentioned, this is a ‘training’ process. As with anything, we get better at it the more we practise.

And good luck. Homesickness is never easy despite your age, but time is, as always, a healer.

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