Six methods to help tackle homesickness

(Photo by Stefan Carlson)

According to the American Psychological Association, homesickness is an illness or impairment caused by separa- tion from home, and is “characterized by preoccupying thoughts of home and attachment objects.” Homesickness is common for those who decide to spend their school year on campus. College freshmen are most likely to suffer from homesickness, and in its severe form, homesickness can significantly impact social life, academic performance, and mental health. However, according to experts, you can overcome severe homesickness by following

a few tips:

1. Don’t call/visit home too often. Dr. Amy Swarr, the director of counseling services at the Wellness Center, says that incoming freshmen who dorm should “try to stay on campus as much as possible the first few months of school rather than going home. These are key months when they can form connections on campus that will support them while they are a student and will hopefully help them feel less homesick.”

2. Make friends on campus.Dr. Tamar Levinson, a staff psychologist at the Wellness Center, suggests that homesick students should “try to get to know their RA and other students on their floor. The sooner they find community at EC the better they will feel.”

Go to parties or gatherings, and force yourself to talk to new people. Spending time with new friends will help you when you’re missing old ones.

3. Get busy. Besides making new friends, attending classes, and going to parties, get involved. Join a student organization, team, or club. Sophomore Chris Wallace said that when he suffered homesickness his freshman year, he diverted his attention away from it.

“I immersed myself in the activities of school organizations and my academics,” Wallace said.

If student clubs or teams don’t pique your interest, vol- unteer for service opportunities on campus. It will increase your confidence, and take your mind off home. Remember: the more free time you have, the more likely you will feel the pangs of homesickness.

4. Reach out. If your homesickness gets in the way of your grades and social life, then seek support. Swarr reminds students that they “are eligible for free counseling sessions at counseling services. In addition to seeking counseling, students can talk to those people they feel comfortable with about their feelings of homesickness. Talking about these feelings with a friend or family member can help them feel less overwhelming and upsetting.”

5. Ask your family for care packages. If your family is able to do so, ask for care packages. Junior Charlie McDowell said that care packages helped him adjust to being away from home.

"I loved when I would get a package from my dad,” McDowell said. “It usually just had like a scarf I needed and a candy bar that I liked with a little note, but having a little reminder that my family was thinking of me really helped when I missed home.”

6. Make your dorm room a home away from home. Replicate your home in your dorm. Does the inside of your home smell like flowers or pine sol? Add those scents into your room (but do not go around spraying Febreze 20 times, because your roommate will not be happy). Hang up wall art that is similar to the décor in your bedroom at home. However, be sure to change the decor up a bit, since you don’t want your college dorm room to completely mirror your old high school room. Place some pictures of your family and high school friends on your desk and bedside table, but also be sure to keep space for pictures of the new friends you will make at college.

If you suffer from depression or anxiety as a result of homesickness, contact the Wellness Center at (630) 617-3565