It was the issue I was warned about the most, yet least prepared for when stepping off that plane nine weeks ago. People who had made the flit seemed to handle the financials, manage the removals and deal with the stress, but homesickness crept out of people’s tales like poison ivy – a beast that everyone appeared to struggle with, no matter their reason for moving, and who was going with them.
“It comes and goes”, “give it two years” and “skype helps” was the advice I repeatedly received, and whilst all of those things are indeed, true, when that wave of missing home hits I now fully appreciate why it’s termed as a ‘sickness’.
The nausea that sets up camp in your stomach like a hibernating bear. Sticky palms, racing pulse and restless legs. And when it really takes hold, the grape-sized tears that fall from your eyes. Someone pass the tiny violin…
I’ve had two pretty major bouts of this fear-inducing ‘sickness’ since arriving, and joking aside, it was pretty astounding how terrible it felt. It’s no coincidence they’ve both struck when the weather’s been less than perfect, and on each occasion I’ve taken myself off to bed like I’m nursing a hangover. Since these extreme periods, I’ve had a few more homesick moments strike, but this time I was more prepared to tackle them. Because unlike a migraine, a stomach bug or the booze blues, a saying my Nanna uses all the time rings true when it comes to being homesick.
‘Mind over matter’.
I’ve started to learn that controlling how you feel about missing home can help pip the physical reaction to the post, putting you in the driving seat of your emotions. Sometimes it’ll be a case of asking nicely, perhaps when you’re having a random moment of nostalgia from a smell. Other times, like when you’re missing your besties hen weekend (ouch) or your first birthday without your people, you’ll need to beat the sh*t out of homesickness with a baseball bat. I’m still navigating the exact home remedy for the relentless cretin that is homesickness, but here are some things that have helped me combat it from taking hold which I hope can help you; wherever, whatever or whoever you’re missing in the world.
#1 Distraction for satisfaction
Write down and carry with you three things you can viably do, no matter where you are, for when homesickness strikes. When I don’t give in to the urge to mope, I usually go for creative activities to take my mind somewhere else. Writing a blog post, creating a new Pinterest board or catching up on antics from my favourite vloggers are my top tactics. If it’s a severe bout I’ll voicenote one of my besties as she always has some wise words to get me back on track again. You might like to go for a walk/run/cycle, write in your journal or do some Sudoku, depending on what works for you. It could even inspire a new hobby for you.
#2 Abuse the crap out of technology
Who knew talking into a mobile with no one at the other end could be so powerful? Voicenotes have single-handedly been thee best way for me to keep in touch with people at home when time differences are all to pot, wifi is dodgy and schedules clash. There’s nothing I love more than waking up to a library of notifications with the little microphone symbol telling me I get to hear the voices of the people I love with their news from the day/week/month. I’ve even managed to convert my mega shy pals who now totally see the extra benefits of an animated talking message over a bog standard text. I’d urge you to get over the fact you hate your own voice and make your Mum’s day with a download of what you’ve been up to. After all, it’s not you that has to listen to it, and it’s not like you sound like Lord Voldemort!
#3 Picture not so perfect
Contrary to what people may suggest, don’t indulge the melancholy by looking at photos of your loved ones when you’re pining for home. A picture has a funny way of romanticising a memory, only serving to make you feel a whole lot worse. Especially when accompanied by a playlist of sad songs. Avoid reminders that will stoke your nostalgic fire until you feel a little stronger.
#4 What’s in a name?
My homesickness is affectionately referred to as Harrold. Harrold the haggis, in a nod to my heritage. When he’s being a particular prick, he becomes a big fat hairy haggis with no name. The pet name brings the humour to the forefront of feeling like a bag of shite, and making it an entity means I can tell it what to do. Whilst putting your homesickness into a naughty corner sounds like greater nonsense than Gillian McKeith’s doctorate, it bloody well works!
#5 Give yourself FOMO
I was a bit behind the times to learn what FOMO stood for (I thought it was a reality TV show for a fair while), but now I know what it is, I’ve used it as a mega motivator for ‘seizing the day’. When I moved out to Oz my motto was ‘say yes to everything (within reason)’, because I didn’t want FOMO on my own life! Each minute that’s spent longing for something you don’t have is wasted time you could be spent enjoying your life. Not every day will feel like a walk in the park, just make sure you detour to your happy place regularly to help positivity feel less like effort and more just the norm.
#6 Look at the sky…
…and breath. And as you do, remember that sky is the same one that covers us all. Feel closer to the people you love by just looking up, and tell them they should do the same when they’re missing you too.
For my own family and friends who have got to the end of this post, let me know with a wee voicenote or message, as there’s nothing that makes my day more than hearing from you.