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“Yes, they'll all come to meet me, arms reaching, smiling sweetly. It's good to touch the green, green grass of home.” Tom Jones understood homesickness.

As any expat will tell you, it’s absolutely natural to feel homesick, at times; to long for familiar places, beloved faces and a sense of belonging. This craving for home can be troublesome any time – travel is not always easy nor affordable. However, now, in light of the travel limitations, quarantine periods and visa restrictions associated with the covid-19 crisis, the usual sense of homesickness is likely to be exacerbated.

Although there is no substitute for the relief of being on home soil, there are ways we can mitigate the anguish of homesickness and maintain a greater sense of well-being when we’re stuck, far from home.

 

Reflect on the details of your longing

Take some time to acknowledge exactly what it is you are missing about home. Is it the people? The environment? The space and nature? The lifestyle? Are there alternative ways for you to reconnect with those precise elements, without jumping on a plane? Are there activities or locations within your adopted country that can fulfil that particular longing in you? It is worth contemplating on whether homesickness is actually a bout of claustrophobia. For many expats – particularly those used to freedom of travel and/or close proximity to natural spaces – long periods of time in one location can create a yearning for relative freedom, space and quiet. If you recognise your yearning as claustrophobia, look for ways to enjoy the quieter, less urbanised areas of where you live, and refresh your perspective.

 

Avoid ‘greener grass’ syndrome

Don’t romanticise your return home or buy into the myth of “happy ever after”, particularly if you are considering a long-term or permanent move. Studies show that positive life changes such as marriage, financial windfall and, in our case, returning to a beloved homeland, can increase our sense of happiness, but only temporarily (from a few weeks to a couple of years). In addition, researchers estimate that only around 10% of your happiness quotient is dependent on your current life situation – you are only slightly happier when external circumstances are working in your favour. Therefore, it’s unwise to assume that a return to greener, home pastures is going to lead to increased and lasting life satisfaction. Realise that if you are unhappy here (and if you have been unhappy in previous locations) you are eventually likely to become unhappy ‘back home’. It’s okay to want to be happier and, thankfully, there are many ways to increase your sense of well-being and life satisfaction. Let go of the idea of greener pastures, and start engaging in the habits and practices that will increase your sense of happiness right here, right now.

 

Cultivate a gratitude mindset now

Studies show that our mind is programmed to look for and amplify the negative, and this means there are many wonderful facets of life in your adopted country that you may be not seeing or acknowledging. A daily gratitude practice will help you recognise the positive side of life, wherever you live. It will also enhance your sense of happiness and help alleviate homesickness. Importantly, if and when you do travel home, an established gratitude mindset will make your return feel more wonderful, as you will be attuned to finding gratitude in all that your homeland has to offer.

Homesickness can cause very intense, very real emotions. However, I recommend against knee-jerk reactions – particularly if travel is an uncertain prospect. Instead, take time to reflect on what you truly miss, be realistic about your homeland’s potential, and embed a daily dose of gratitude into your everyday life.

 

Kim Forrester is a mother, nature lover, holistic wellbeing advocate and kindness enthusiast. As an award-winning author, educator and consultant, she combines cutting edge science with spiritual philosophy to inspire holistic wellbeing and fullness of living. Born in New Zealand, Kim has lived in several countries - now in Singapore.

Looking for some drops of goodness in your day? Visit www.kimforrester.net for a range of content and consultations that will help you thrive in life. Plus, check out the Eudaemonia podcast on your favourite podcast app for thought-provoking conversations about the traits and practices that can inspire you to flourish.

Comments

Rated
8
Richard
ELITE
1349 comments
2 September 2020
Great article. Thanks for sharing.
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Rated
8
Kim
CONTRIBUTOR
7 comments
2 September 2020
For the thousands of expats living in South-east Asia, isolation from extended family can be a confronting and lonely experience. However, most expats are prepared for the challenge of building and maintaining a day-to-day support network in lieu of homeland connections. Nothing can prepare you, however, for the experience of coping with the illness, tragedy or death of a loved one back home. It is in these moments of despair, helplessness (and often guilt) that each kilometre between here and there can feel like a light-year of emptiness. Coping with death, sickness or tragedy in the family is a distressing experience at any time. But for expats, the complications of living far from home can heighten feelings of isolation, guilt and helplessness. Exacerbate that scenario with the travel limitations, quarantine periods and visa restrictions currently associated with the covid-19 crisis, and this sense of helplessness can easily turn to despair. Nothing can ease the emotional rollercoaster of these situations – but there are some simple practices that can make you stronger and more resilient as you deal with the distance. Continue Reading https://www.expatchoice.asia/services/expat-well-being-how-cope-long-distance-illness-and-tragedy
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