I get a lot of messages from people who are feeling homesick and missing home, so I thought I’d put together a practical list about how to get over homesickness.
When you’re feeling homesick after moving across the world, it’s natural to feel sad about missing your friends and family and all of the things that are familiar to you.
Homesickness isn’t something you can totally cure – it still creeps up on you even after you’ve been living in Australia for many years. But there are homesickness cures – things you can do to divert your mind, get some positive thoughts flowing and start living in the moment to appreciate where you are and what you have right now – and these can ease feelings of homesickness to the point where you’re able to focus on enjoying your life again in your new home.
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List of ideas about how to get over homesickess
When you’re homesick in Australia, there are lots of things you can do to refocus your attention onto something more positive. The absolute worst thing you can do is to sit with those feelings and focus on them all day, every day because they will intensify and the feelings will start to take over and gain traction in your mind.
What you focus on grows. Don’t let homesickness rule your life and the opportunities that are available to you – you are in control of your own mind, so if you’re feeling homesick know that you have the power to change the way you’re feeling.
Mindset shifts for getting over homesickness
Now, I know I just said above that you shouldn’t sit and focus on feeling homesick constantly. But actually, the first step in how to get through homesickness is actually to process the feelings you’re having. This means allowing and welcoming the feelings of homesickness in, no matter how terrible they make you feel. Allow yourself time and space to feel homesick – if you just try to ignore it when you’re missing home badly, you’ll just end up feeling worse. What you resist, persists!
The important part though is not to sit with these feelings and wallow in them for hours or days on end. Let the feelings come, let them move through you and then move forward and move your mind to something positive.
Next, it’s time to bring gratitude into your life. Focus on the reasons why you moved to Australia in the first place. Think about the incredible things the experience has added to your life and stop being fixated on the things you’re missing.
So for instance, you might not be able to see your parents every weekend anymore, but when you do see them you might get to spend one or two months with them in a block which is actually more quality time. Your child might not be able to see their cousins all the time, but now they have an exciting penpal to keep in touch with. Aim to find a positive spin on the stories you’ve been telling yourself so you can reframe them.
The solution for how to get through homesickness really does rest with you. This is empowering to know but also frustrating as I know how challenging it can feel when you’re busy searching for homesickness cures!
Beyond the mindset shifts you can make, there are lots of practical steps you can take to stop feeling homesick and start enjoying your new life.
How to get through homesickness in practical steps
Here are some things you can do when you’re missing home:
Being outdoors in the fresh air really helps change your perspective, especially when the sun is shining. Being in nature or at the beach gives you a newfound energy and it helps you to think and see things more clearly.
No matter what your mood, doing some exercise wakes your brain up and makes you feel a whole lot better. Go for a walk or run, hit the gym, pull up YouTube and do some yoga – whatever your preferred exercise, it will really help. If you want to combine it with the opportunity to make some new friends, why not try a bootcamp meet up?
Go and explore
Get outside in your new surroundings and enjoy them. Sit on the beach (because everything feels better at the beach!), explore the cafe culture, visit a museum – there are so many new things to explore. Getting out and about reminds you why you moved here.
Get off social media
Yes, social media is an amazing way to stay in touch. But constantly watching your friends and family on Facebook really doesn’t help – it’s just a way of wallowing in what you’re missing. Get offline and into the real world to enjoy what you have around you right now.
Plan a treat
Give yourself a short term boost by planning something for yourself as a treat. This might be a massage or meal out, or a day trip somewhere or a weekend away. Focus your energy on planning and looking forward to that instead.
Make the effort with a new friend
Text that mum you met at school drop off and invite her for coffee. When you’re at the park, strike up a conversation with someone and see where it leads.
Go places where you can make some new friends and invite them over for a BBQ. You only get new friends and a support network when you make the effort to make friends and create that support network. When you have a close group of friends, everything begins to change.
Take time every day to think about what you’re grateful for. Get in the habit of sharing what you’re grateful for over the dinner table in the evening with your family – getting your kids involved really boosts their wellbeing too.
Try some Aussie cuisine. Create an Aussie night for your family where you enjoy a sausage sizzle followed by fairy bread and Tim Tams! Make it fun – do some research online and shop for some Aussie props to make it a special night.
Buy something new for your home
Go shopping for some new accessories to make your home feel more like a home. A couple of new cushions, a candle or some new pictures for your walls. Embrace that your new home here is different from your old home – put in some effort to make it feel homely.
Take photos of where you live and share them with the people you’re missing. This will give them a glimpse into what made you move in the first place and it will make you proud to show off your new home.
Send some postcards to show your friends and family that you’re thinking about them and to share a few notes about what you’ve been up to.
Explore like a tourist
Book a whale watching trip or a city tour or an island day trip – something to get you out enjoying your local area like a tourist. There is nothing like having an amazing experience and knowing you live in the area so can do it again and again – for you it doesn’t need to be a one-off experience like it is for the real tourists.
>> Shop for tours on Experience Oz
Take a class
Book onto a course. Ideally, find an in-person class so you can meet some new people and get out in your community. Learning really expands your mind.
Get out of your comfort zome
Book to try something new that challenges you – try a bridge climb or try a hot air balloon ride. I remember the adrenaline rush I got after climbing a glazier in New Zealand – it was totally out of my comfort zone and I felt so excited about my achievement.
Meet other expats
If you can find an expat meet up near you, go along to it. You can usually find these on Facebook. It really helps when you can connect with other people who understand how you’re feeling.
Find places to get home comforts
There are English shops dotted around and we have a couple of amazing British fish and chip shops not too far away from us in Brisbane (Chumley Warners at Birkdale and The Fryer of Whitby up on the Sunshine Coast in case you want to search for them!). These sorts of things mean we can get a taste of home when we need it. Whatever your nationality, you should be able to find some products from home locally or online in Australia.
Go out with your partner
If you have kids and a partner, getting some quality time alone together can be difficult but it’s so important. It’s not easy finding a babysitter when you move somewhere new. Try asking other parents who they use or, if your kids go to a kindy or an after school club, ask the staff if any of them do babysitting privately.
If the cost of a babysitter plus a night out is too expensive, there are alternatives. We love visiting sports clubs that have kids’ clubs on-site – a tiny annual membership often gives you a couple of hours of free childcare so you can enjoy a quiet drink. A gym near me offers a creche for a few dollars a week and so long as you stay on site in the complex you can go for lunch, a coffee or even do your food shopping – this was amazing when we first arrived and my kids were little!
Avoid going back for a visit too soon
If you’re feeling homesick, it’s not a great idea to go back for a visit just yet. It will only make you feel worse. Instead, throw yourself into your new life as much as you can and concentrate on that rather than what you’re missing. Although that doesn’t mean you can’t get excited about planning a future trip and all of the amazing experiences you want to do on your visit back.
Start a journal
Put your feelings down on paper and then let them go. Don’t spend too long focussing on the negative feelings though – write about your hopes and dreams too.
My favourite book at the moment is Your Dream Life Starts Here. It really gets you thinking about what sort of life you want to create and it gives you so many ideas to journal about.
Create some new traditions
If you compare Christmas in Australia to Christmas back home, it will be very different. Being different doesn’t make it bad though. Focus on creating new ways to celebrate here and bringing in some new Australian traditions – and enjoy the fact that it is different rather than trying to compare it.
Talk about it
Find someone you trust and tell them how you’ve been feeling. A problem shared is a problem halved.
Volunteer in the community
Getting involved in your local community can really help you feel connected with your new home and it’s a great way to meet some new people.
Take up a new hobby
Why not try scuba diving or hiking or paddleboarding? There are so many hobbies in Australia to consider, and many of these might not have been available to you in your old home.
I’ve started trying to meditate – I still find it difficult but I know how important mindfulness is, especially when you’re busy. I do a mix of just sitting and thinking about my breathing, or if my mind is all over the place I find a guided meditation (there are plenty on Youtube).
I fuse it with some time spent thinking positive thoughts as well. It helps me keep things in perspective and helps me stay in control even if it feels like there are too many things to do. Being in the moment can really help with feelings of homesickness – you stop analysing your decisions, stop thinking about things in the past and just commit to being where you are right now.
Give yourself time
Moving to a new country is exciting and terrifying. It can take time to feel settled in your new home. I remember it took me months to get settled when I moved from Sheffield to Hampshire in the UK after I relocated to be with my boyfriend (who is now my husband) – I missed my friends, family and the familiarity so much. I missed my old career so much too and felt like I’d lost my identify. But I learned to cope with it and embrace my new home even though it was very different from the home that I left behind. These skills came in so handy when we moved to Australia – I settled in much faster as I’d already learned how to avoid homesickness (or at least avoid the worst of it) having been through it before.
I won’t promise that I don’t still find myself feeling sad or missing people because I do. There is no permanent cure for homesickness – I’m work in progress and I still need to take action if I feel myself slipping into it. But as with everything, ongoing practice makes it much easier and having tools you can turn to really helps.
You also need to be kind and give yourself some time to learn how to adapt to life in a new place. Not everybody settles in instantly – sometimes the best cure for homesickness is time and patience.
How to get through homesickness
There are lots of steps you can take to calm down your feelings of homesickness and to help you take control of your mind back. Just remember that feeling homesick isn’t actually a bad thing – it’s a symptom of the fact you’ve been living a purposeful life with people you love.
The fact that you’ve had deep roots in your old home doesn’t mean that is the only home where you can experience that sense of belonging – you just need to be open to actively creating a home in Australia too. How lucky that will make you to have two places you feel truly at home!
It makes me so sad when I hear about people moving to Australia and then going back within a year because they feel homesick. The move to Australia is huge, it’s expensive, it’s an amazing opportunity and even if it’s not going to be your forever home, you owe it to yourself to do what you can to experience it and give it a try.
If in a couple of years, things are no better, then sure, consider going back. Although know that you won’t ever be able to get your old life back. The experience of moving to Australia and back again will have changed your outlook on the world. YOU won’t be the same person you once were. Your friends and family might not have moved on very much, but your experiences mean you’re now looking at your old home through a new lens. Often people go back and realise that their old home wasn’t what they thought it was after all and then they have to spend another £20k moving back to Australia.
Do yourself a favour – give it a proper try and don’t give up too easily. Your old home will always be there whether you go back now or in another year or two. You have a limited time on the earth, just live a little and give yourself the opportunity to grow and evolve. Don’t rush into anything because feeling homesick is something I know you can handle (you can do hard things – you moved to Australia in the first place, after all!)
The things mentioned on this list can really help to reframe your mind and put you back in control of your life and your feelings. If you found them useful, I’d love for you to share the post!