Feeling Homesick? Here’s What Happens to Your Body

Everyone is deeply familiar with the feeling of homesickness. You might have experienced it when you spent a month or two at summer camp when you were in 4th grade. Or, you might have felt it real when you moved to another state for the uni life. But the worst kind of homesickness is longing for home when you are, in fact, already home. It’s what happens when you move into a new house and neighbourhood. You miss home, but it feels like you can’t or shouldn’t. It’s a complicated feeling, much like what happens to your mind and body.

The Anatomy of Homesickness

Homesickness triggers a lot of unpleasant thoughts and feelings. With it comes physical manifestations. Psychologists divide such body changes into two categories. The first one is under anxiety. When you get homesick, you become worried, nervous, and uneasy, precisely because the place you’re currently in now isn’t familiar to you. In the evolutionary standpoint, this anxiety helps the person be alert for possible dangers in the unknown ‘territory’. In the biological perspective, the anxiety switches on the fight-or-flight system. Under these conditions, you’ll experience physical changes, from upset stomach and shaky hands to palpitations, sweating, and dizziness.

The other category is grief. When you move into a new home, there’s a sense of loss of the old one. Even though the old one isn’t entirely perfect, in retrospect, it becomes idealised. You forget your noisy neighbours, and you say you miss the happy feeling of the community. You overlook the house’s leaky roof and peeling paint, and you say you long to be in the comfort of your bedroom. When you think you lost something precious, the grief intensifies. Depression may even set in. With it comes the difficulty going to sleep, not feeling the need to eat, and having trouble focusing on things.

The Cure for Homesickness

With a better grasp of what happens to your body when you feel homesick, it’s easier to think of solutions to alleviate it. One thing psychologists recommend is filling your home with pieces familiar to you. Like for instance, some furnishings from your old house. This will subconsciously inform your body that the new place isn’t entirely new and that there’s no need to be on the fight-or-flight mode. If you’re moving long-distance, it’s best to reach out to expertssed professionals are excellent in securing stuff so that you can cross your precious furniture off your to-worry list. Another way you can deal with the anxiety of homesickness is to remind yourself that it’s okay to feel a little upset. It sounds like a too-simplistic strategy but believe it or not, the constant internalising of this positive thought helps calm down your ready-to-fight-or-take-flight body.

As for the grief that comes from idealised memories, try to manage your thoughts by seeing the silver lining in your present situation. Think of the good things your move has granted. Perhaps, a new job, a different set of friends, a fresh start in life, etc. Keep your eyes fixed in these positives.

Are You Homesick?

Sad girl hugging a dog

Have you been longing for home when you’re already home? Deal with the anxiety and grief head-on. And remember, it’s going to be okay. It may not look like it now, but it will be for sure.

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