Coping With Homesickness

Homesickness has not always got a simple remedy. It can frustrate many children and adults, and even come at times that you don’t expect it. It can be as simple as just missing certain things about your home and family, but it can also have some frustrating physical symptoms too.

My own personal battle with homesickness was quite severe, and lasted until my late teens. At several points it made me incredibly ill with a fever, dizziness, anxiety attacks and even being physically sick. I struggled to explain to my relatives and friends how I was feeling, and tried to deal with a lot of the emotions myself. Most of the time, homesickness would occur as I was trying to sleep but occasionally it would hang around during the day time, making me feel tense and unable to eat anything.

Quite frequently I would feel homesick in strange places, but it also hit me when I was staying with relatives and family friends who I had known for years. I felt embarrassed that I was feeling homesick and tried to shrug off the way I was feeling by just saying that I had a stomach ache and needed to lie down.

I would cry for no apparent reason, and it would hit me when I least expected it, flipping my stomach and making me light headed and emotional. On several occasions I had to be picked up by my mother or taken home, at my insistence, just so I could stop feeling so horrible and get a good night’s rest.

If you are having problems coping with your homesickness, then take the first step of telling someone exactly how you feel and how they can help you, and don’t be embarrassed about it.

Follow these steps to feeling better:

– Take familiar music or DVD’s to fall asleep to if you start to feel ill, they will distract you from thinking too much about how you feel and what you are thinking. The funnier the DVD the better as it will help you feel more positive

– Pack things that remind you of home, like a favourite toy, pillow or bedclothes. These will be familiar and therefore comforting.

– Talk on the phone to your parents. The soothing sound of a familiar voice can be re-assuring and positive if you are feeling low.

– Keep busy during the daytimes so that you don’t have time to dwell on being away from home and missing your family

– Take some lavender spray with you, or another herbal rescue remedy that will help calm you down if you start to get tense.

– Know that everyone else is in the same boat – if you’re on a camp, away at college or on holiday with friends, keep in mind that everyone else is away from their normal life, so don’t let yourself feel isolated

– Plan your trip well and keep a schedule so that you know what you are doing whilst you are away from home, and you can stay excited about every part of your trip

– Go for a walk – Fresh air and sunshine can clear the mind, and ease the body

– Keep eating – even if you feel as though you can’t, so that you have enough energy to cope with your emotions, take snacks from home with you so that you have some familiar food to eat

If a child in your care is having problems with feeling homesick, keep in mind the above tips, read with them, talk with them, ask them if they want to watch TV, or make them a special drink (hot chocolate or a smoothie). They will be feeling lonely and scared, and incredibly confused, so ask them what they would usually do at home, and try to replicate it. Make sure that they are surrounded with talkative people, so that they don’t dwell too long on their feelings and start to withdraw too much.

Be sensitive to the child’s feelings, and let them have a really good cry if they need to, as this will often cure them, and tire them out so much that they can sleep! Be aware that they may not understand why they feel ill, and so help them try to overcome their illness by emulating their parent’s behaviour and normal situation – do they like the door open or shut, light’s off or dimmed – giving them some control over their situation may help ease their feelings of homesickness.