Many research studies have been conducted on homesickness, one of which says that about 70% of individuals experience it in the early stages of relocating to a new place. Be it due to aspirations or limitations, such a change in one’s environment accompanied by the absence of loved ones paves way for stress, anxiety, and even depression.
One such story was that of Chirag. Hailing from Dharamshala, Chirag had moved to a new city to pursue his higher studies after having secured a seat in a renowned university there. As excited as he was about this new beginning, the first year of his life there was, as he put it, miserable.
Here is what Chirag had to Say:
“I can say I was very excited to see my hard work paying off like this and be where I wanted to be. Once I had relocated and settled down, that’s when the loneliness began to kick in. I missed my mom the most. Unlike most parent-child relationships, I shared a very friendly and loving bond with her, and I knew that with me gone, she might be feeling terrible. I was never able to generate any interest in getting to know people, or participate in class. My scores were decent, but there was no urge to do anything. Basically, I did not even feel like taking efforts to make myself happy.”
Another psychological study says that many people fake their happy state in order to refrain from sharing their true inner feelings. Like most kids, Chirag too would lie to his family about loving his new-found college life so that they would worry less about his wellbeing. Things, however, got out of hand when Chirag began to skip classes.
“All I wanted to do was sleep. I had a single room to myself in my hostel, which felt like a blessing back then because that was my sweet escape. I would be up all night binge-watching shows online, listen to music, and then use my whole day to sleep. Sometimes, I would even skip lunch and directly head out for dinner. It was this cyclical process that had become my lifestyle. It was only when my only friend there came to my room and spoke to me about depression that I realise what was really happening. That’s when I decided to speak to a counselor, because I knew I did not have it in me anymore to get back up on my own without support.”
How did a counselor help to Deal with Homesickness?
Know your triggers
One of the most important aspects of homesickness is identifying the source of it. Different things can trigger homesickness for different people. While one may feel homesick because they’re nostalgic missing their old friends and social environment, another person may feel this way due to depression arising out of unfavorable food and climatic changes.
While conversing with his counselor, Chirag realised that he missed home primarily because his mother had recently been recently diagnosed with a heart condition, and thinking about her health got him overwhelmed. It was then that he was encouraged to video call his mother every day so that he feels more at ease looking at how she’s doing. Over time, it did work for him, and he felt relatively relieved.
Work it out
By this I am particularly referring to physical exercise. Depending upon one’s interests and preferences, they may choose to engage in any form of physical workout – be it jogging, doing to the gym, swimming, or playing a sport for that matter. Exercise is proven to not only reduce stress and anxiety by a great deal, but also boosts self-confidence, which in turn empowers a person to face challenging situations in life.
For Chirag, it had always been about having a fit body. He got himself connected to a Fitness Coach, who mentored him through his diet plan, as well as workout regime. This helped him to channelize his worries in a positive manner, as well as divert his mind to something other than his stresses.
Do something you loved doing back at home
Another way to cope with homesickness is taking up an activity that you did back at home which made you happy. This could mean anything – from designing games, writing poetry, to dancing or being a part of social events.
Playing the guitar was what did the trick for Chirag. When he was home, he would play the guitar for his family and friends. He began the same practice with his new-found hostel mates as well, and since people always have appreciation and time for a person knowing how to play an instrument, it worked wonders for him! 🙂
Write it to fight it
A very natural by-product of moving to a new place are new situation, and even first-time experiences for that matter. In order to combat homesickness, it is very important that we learn to value our present by making attempts to get attached to it. A great way to do so is by maintaining a journal that would comprise of all the positive and happy things that one has come across in their new environment.
Being a practise that anybody can undertake, Chirag too ended up compiling his memorable moments from his new-found life. Also, as he was keenly interested in video-shooting and photography, he also decided to document some great days with his friends so that he could go back to re-living his college time by cherishing those memories.
Speak your heart out
Sometimes, just by talking about the things that are bothering us helps us feel lighter and gets rid of the stress that we may be undergoing at that time. When we allow bothersome thoughts to remain within us, it leads to emotional buildup – something which is very unhealthy, has may tend to become toxic over time.
Chirag too was asked to identify people who could give him that window to be able to vent out his thoughts. Other than his Life Coach, Chirag also found that go-to person in his friend’s roommate, who also happened to be from Dharamshala. Apart from pouring his heart out to him, Chirag now also had somebody who would accompany him during his trips back home.
Positive mindfulness to the rescue
Mindfulness is nothing but the process of synchronisation of one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. In simple words, the kind of thoughts a person thinks about a certain situation can determine how they would feel about it, as well as impact their behavior, as and when they tend to have that experience.So, individuals who manage to motivate themselves enough to think positively may find themselves feeling happy and behaving warmly with those around them. 🙂
As part of incorporating positive mindfulness, Chirag was asked to create a Wall of Happiness, wherein he would write either a positive thought about himself, or an idea that would make him happy. He incorporated things such as: “I am confident at socialising”, and “I love street-fooding and photography” to this wall. This exercise not only helped him remember his strengths, but also had suggestions to what he could do to bounce back on his days of low.
So in the end, despite having had a rough start, Chirag gained momentum over time, and managed to overcome his depressive state. At present he is part of the organizing committee of his college fest, as well as team lead of the institute’s music society. Allowing the positives of his present to consume him not only helped Chirag brave through the tides of stress that had engulfed him, but also brought out his personality like never before. Aren’t happy endings the best? 🙂