There are many pluses to moving away from your hometown to New York, or to any big city. You grow as a person, getting to know yourself and becoming more independent and confident. You get to experience new places, people, and cultures. You have an automatic aura of cool when you go home because you live in New York. But there are also many things about moving away that suck. A lot. And chief among them is that depressing, exhausting condition called homesickness.
I do not deal well with big location (or life) changes, and I am definitely prone to some mal de pays. Where some people find New York great because you’re never really alone, for me there’s nothing lonelier than standing in a crowded subway car and realizing that nobody there knows who I am or cares about my story. Particularly as the cold grey months stretch on and I find myself without a plane ticket home to look forward to — no countdown until my next Kentucky fix — I can feel a little, or a lot, lonesome, missing my family and my friends and my favorite spots in the Ville.
Now I’m lucky, because Scout lives just 6 blocks away, so I’m rarely more than a ten minute walk from somebody who knows what I’m talking about when I say I miss Burger’s chicken sandwiches or Ms. Brundige’s class or Thunder with a capital T. But I haven’t always been that lucky, and so I’ve developed some strategies that help me cope.
When you’re feeling homesick, or just all around blue, these are 10 super quick and easy ways to pick yourself up. All of them take less than 5 minutes (ish), and each one never fails to put a smile back on my face. Even if I am 740 miles from home (and yes, I did look it up).
- Put on an upbeat song and dance around your kitchen. Pick whatever your go to happy song is (If you’re at a loss, I highly recommend any of the tracks on our January playlist. “This Year” in particular has been my jam for the past month.) The more dorkily you dance, the better you will feel. Jump around, wave your hands in the air, get your blood circulating. You may also recruit a friend or roommate to be your dance partner.
- Make yourself a mug of something hot and delicious. For me, it’s my mom’s homemade hot chocolate mix. But anything warm and yummy will do, like a hug for your insides that will, literally and figuratively, warm your heart.
- Paint your nails a fun color. I always feel at least three times better when my nails are in order. Because even if everything else about me is a mess, at least my fingers have got their act together. (I realize this remedy is a little more for the ladies — although fellas, if you enjoy a nice manicure, more power to you — but I’m not sure what the “guy” equivalent is. Take a long hot shower? Shave? Wax your finely coiffed mustache?)
- Call somebody you care about and tell them you love them. Facetime or Skype is even better. Whether it’s your mom, dad, brother, sister, distant cousin, or home bestie, pick somebody who makes you feel like things are going to be ok and remind yourself that even if they’re far away, they’re still rooting for you.
- Watch any or all of these YouTube videos. Unlikely animal friendships or epic lip sync battles will also do the trick.
- Hug somebody. Hug your roommate. Hug a friend. Hug a stuffed animal. Remind yourself that even if you feel totally lost and confused, detached from your roots with no idea where you’re growing, you are enough. And you are so loved.
- Go for a walk around your neighborhood. Find something worth Instagramming and take a picture. The Instagramming itself is optional: The point is to find something beautiful or cool in the place you’re currently living. Remind yourself why you moved here in the first place.
- Light a yummy smelling candle. My current favorites are Woodfire (like having a fireplace without actually having a fireplace) and Jane Austen. Essential oils will also do the trick; try lavender for an instant moment of calm.
- Make a favorite recipe. Ok this one probably takes more than 5 minutes, so if you’re pressed for time you can substitute by eating a favorite snack. But the reasons for the baking are threefold. First, it requires you to focus on a task instead of worrying or wallowing. Second, it makes your abode smell super good. And third, when you’re done you have something warm and yummy that tastes like home.
- Have a good cry. Sometimes, the best way to deal with all of those feelings is just to let it all out. It may need to get ugly before it gets better. It’s ok to feel sad and lost and far from home. But once you’ve felt those things, try to remember why you moved here in the first place. Remind yourself that you are loved, by so many. And know that life is long and strange, and you can always go home.
Do you get homesick? How do you deal? A girl can use as many coping strategies as she can get, so leave your tips in the comments below, or shoot us a Tweet or a Facebook comment to let us know how you deal with the far from home blues.