Now that you’ve been diagnosed with Home-Sickness, it’s time to work on the treatment. I’ve come up with some methods for myself that help combat the feeling of homesickness or loneliness. Don’t despair; homesickness can strike anyone at anytime. I’ve experienced it on more than one occasion.
1. Stay Positive
The first few months are the hardest when staying away from home. It is important to maintain a positive frame of mind and continue telling yourself that the feeling will pass. Many people miss their families and familiar surroundings tremendously during the first couple of months, and this is normal.
2. Phone and Skype Regularly
Technology has provided us with the facilities to stay in contact with loved ones. Telephone home when you are feeling positive and in a good mood. Make the call home after you have been out doing something you enjoy. This convinces people at home you are fine and avoids you upsetting yourself on the phone, and it will provide you a confirmation that you ARE ok as well as an outlet to share the good experience.
It is useful to phone family members regularly. An economical way of staying in touch with loved ones is using the Internet to make calls. Skype and other networks allow users to phone other Skype users free of charge. There is also an additional bonus when using Skype that allows users with web cams to make video calls. This is more personal than a telephone call, and people can also use this technology to send their love during special occasions like Mother’s Day and birthday parties.
3. Help your Family Feel Connected
I find that by helping my family feel connected to me helps me not feel quite so disconnected with them. I like to send postcards of unique places that I visit. I also like to send a special package filled with local goodies (cheap) to my family to help them feel connected to me. I try to do this once during a contract. It gives me something to focus on when I am out exploring and about mid-way it gives my family something to enjoy from the area of the country that I’m visiting.
4. Make Friends
It is important to make friends while living away from home. Making friends prevent loneliness and helps people stay grounded in their new surroundings. Friends can also be a source of help in difficult times. If you’re having trouble finding friends in your area, try The Gypsy Nurse’s Nurse to Nurse Connection Tool where you can safely find other Travel RNs just like you! (Please note you must be logged in on TheGypsyNurse.com to use this tool).
5. Use Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites help people stay in contact. One can use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to stay in contact with family and friends. Many people post pictures of family members and events on these sites, and people can also chat with one another.
6. Live Life to the Fullest
It is important when away from home to live life to the fullest, and make every second count. Go out with friends and work colleagues. Explore the new area, and enjoy the nightlife. Remember, there are some definite perks to traveling. Take advantage of the unique things to see and do in your contract location. Go hiking in the mountains, visit a national monument, tour a city museum, take a walk on the beach and eat at new restaurants.
7. Plan a short trip to explore the surrounding area.
If you have friends or family that are normally distant and happen to be in driving distance of your contract location; make plans to go see them. If you have a couple of days off work, explore a surrounding town, park or tourist attraction. Invite others to join you but don’t give up and avoid going at it alone.
8. Re-spark an old hobby/craft or activity.
Did you used to do photography? Scrapbooking? How about hiking or tennis? Is there a new activity or hobby that you have been yearning to try? Do it now! Keeping busy and keeping entertained is the number one way to avoid homesickness.
9. Understand that it’s OK to feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious.
When you’re tired from the journey, stressed about starting in a new facility, and facing meeting new people it can feel daunting. Acclimatizing to a new city and a new facility can be hard work. Anticipate these feelings and when they happen, it won’t take you by surprise and you’ll know that they will pass.
10. Take items that make you feel more at home.
When your packing for the contract, make sure to pack along a few small trinkets to make you feel more at home in your temporary location. Photographs (I like the ones with the refrigerator frames as they pack small and don’t break), a favorite pillow/blanket or a special gift can all bring a piece of home to your surroundings. My daughter gave me a Build-A-Bear one year for Mothers Day many years back and it still travels with me everywhere I go.
11. Take care of things in advance.
Planning for your time away is a key to success. Not only will arranging for a lawn service or pre-paying bills lighten the load on your loved ones, but it is also a necessary component for enjoying the time away without worry and guilt. If you have done everything in advance to ensure the physical needs of your loved ones are in order, then you can leave for your trip anticipating what’s ahead instead of worrying about what’s left behind. It’s often amazing (and humbling) to find just how smoothly things run without us when we get back home.
12. You Don’t have to miss Important Events.
If you travel for your job, you’re bound to miss the occasional school play or basketball game. But thanks to modern technology, you can still be involved. For example, if you can’t make your son’s big game, ask someone to videotape it. Then, when you return from your trip, pick up some popcorn and soda and make a movie night with your family to watch the video together.
13. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle.
If you are not eating right and not getting enough sleep, you’re going to feel worse emotionally. It’s important to monitor your health while traveling. You should make sure that your eating properly, getting enough sleep and getting some exercise on a daily basis; even if this is just simply walking. Yoga is a great option for not only the physical well-being but the emotional as well. There are more ideas on how to keep fit in the P.T. Tab.
14. Enjoy the perspective your travel brings.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Whether you agree with that or not, being away certainly restores your perspective about what’s truly important in life. You tend to appreciate the time you get to spend hanging out with your spouse, tucking your children into bed or relaxing in your own home even more. I have found that traveling has only strengthened my relationships because the time spent together now is more focused quality time.
15. Agree that in the case of an Emergency, it’s ok/expected that they contact you as soon as possible.
Should something go wrong at home, your family should feel comfortable contacting you. Make certain that you leave your contact information; including mobile, hospital name/phone/unit, housing Name/phone/apartment # as well as your recruiters’ contact information. Sometimes (depending on the emergency) it’s best to have the recruiter in the loop. If it is something that may pull you off of the contract, this is imperative.
16. Stop and think seriously about why you feel homesick.
Are you having a difficult time with the job? Are there problems at home that you aren’t able to help fix? Are you brooding on the lack of new friends/connections? Work out exactly what is causing the feelings, and then make a plan on how you can make it different on your next trip.
17. Talk to your family and decide if Travel is right for you.
Figuring out if travel nursing is the right choice for you can be a little daunting. Involve your spouse and children in the decision of how you, as a family, earn income. Speak with them honestly about the guilt you’re feeling, and ask them if they have needs you’re not meeting. Together, weigh the pros and cons of your profession and how each of these effects your family both individually and as a group. Decide as a family if traveling is the right choice for you and them right now. If it is, talk to them about the importance of helping out more than usual when you’re away, and ask them for suggestions on how you can do the same when you’re in town. When your whole family is supportive of your job, you’ll feel better when you’re away.
Living away from home gets easier, but people will always miss home. It is natural to feel homesick when away from your natural surroundings, but time heals, and people can with the help of technology, understanding and other people make their stay away from home joyous and bearable.
Are there things that you do to help treat home-sickness? Please share them in the comments below. Your treatment may be exactly what the Doctor ordered to cure someone.