Whether you live across the state, the country or the world, it can be tough fending off homesickness any time of the year. But it's especially challenging during the holidays, when you're likely to yearn for family time and reminisce about holidays past.
Hearing a song on the radio might make you teary because you won't be home for Christmas; gift shopping might feel overwhelming. You might not feel like decorating, because it doesn't feel the way you remembered it.
But don't despair. Homesickness is very normal.
"If you feel sad, alone, overwhelmed, acknowledge and honor your feelings," says grief coach Rachel Ricketts, founder of loss&found, a company that helps people minimize the pain of loss and grief of all kinds, including homesickness.
"Get quiet and check in with how you really feel then take a moment to send some love and compassion to yourself."
Even if you're at a distance from loved ones, you're not alone.
"Homesickness is about feeling isolated in some way, so finding support is key to fighting that feeling," says Ricketts.
Reach out to others for support.
"This can be as simple as talking to friends in your new location, or a Skype call with someone from home, or finding a coach or therapist to help you through," she says.
It's OK to acknowledge your feelings, but don't sit around and sulk throughout the season.
Refreshed Perspectives blogger Heike McNally says it's OK to call to chat with loved ones on the holiday. But she advises not allowing the phone call to bring you down.
Instead make the call right before you're going to do something fun or interesting,
"This way you can't dwell too long on your misery of missing home, because you have something to look forward (to)," she writes.
*Create New Rituals
"When we're homesick, we are usually grieving over the people, place and traditions that we miss," says Ricketts, who suggests creating new rituals in your current location to connect you with home.
Start your own holiday traditions, even if it's just for the short term. For example, instead of missing Mom's holiday desserts, try a new recipe or two on your own.
Get together with your local friends and share the holidays with them. Chances are, some of them get homesick from time to time, too.
Instead of staying home and feeling sorry for yourself, get out and get involved. Go for a walk or sign up for exercise classes. Join a club or take up a hobby that will keep you busy and distracted from your sad feelings.
Stay off social media this time of year as much as possible. That's because you'll most likely be flooded with images and videos of friends and family back home reveling in seasonal celebrations.
Unplugging during the holiday can be a good thing, especially if checking posts, tweets and messages will only make you miss home even more than usual. If you can't completely sign out, limit your social media interactions to once or twice a day and be prepared; even a little social media could trigger homesickness.
Homesickness is a lot about emotions and missing the people and experiences you associate with the holidays. In addition to feelings of sadness, you might feel a little guilty, too, for not spending this time with your loved ones.
Give yourself a break. Instead of wallowing in guilt for living far away from family and friends, forgive yourself. In essence, you're giving yourself permission to make the most of your new surroundings and enjoy the season, even though you're missing loved ones.