How to deal with homesickness

Longing is precisely the feeling that any Ukrainian who has left their native city or country is now experiencing. It is a feeling that slowly kills every person from the inside. As if part of you was left there in a past life.

You walk the streets, feeling like a guest in a strange world, like a viewer watching passers-by who live their lives and enjoy the little things. You only dream of returning home, constantly imagining this moment in your head.

Your emotional state changes step by step. From the very beginning, it seemed like this was just a bad dream, and everything would end in a few days and return to its place. Soon, the understanding came that you were in a new environment and that this could not be changed. Now you are trying to come to terms and get used to it, but obsessive thoughts and homesickness are slowly eating away at you from the inside. You have this feeling that it is simply impossible to get out of this state.

Such a reaction of the body is completely normal. It is always difficult to leave your native place, especially under such monstrous circumstances. After all, you got used to specific rules and foundations, got used to the places and people who surrounded you, and in one sudden moment, everything changed. You had to leave with only one suitcase, with the most necessary things gathered in a hurry amongst fear.

And now, being safe, you constantly experience stress because you need to adapt, establish a routine lifestyle and start all over again.

But even having one thought about life from a “clean slate” inspires incredible fear and horror. After all, you dream of returning every second, even if your home is no longer there.

We have collected valuable tips to help you eliminate stress and feelings of longing, including improve your mental health and returning the sense of comfort and home to your reality.

The first thing to do is to realize and understand that you are not alone. Millions of Ukrainians who have left home are experiencing the same feelings as you. And this is not only intense homesickness, but also guilt and shame for leaving.

It is essential to remind yourself why you left. Specifically, you were saving yourself and your family. It was the best decision you could have made at that moment. You have secured yourself, your children, and your loved ones from the consequences of the war. The main task was to protect yourself and take care of yourself, which you have completed. Say it out loud while standing in front of a mirror several times.

Get to know your temporary housing better. Find nearby shops, parks, shopping centers, and coffee houses. Walk as much as possible around the same places. For example, set yourself the task of walking in one area or park every day. This makes your brain adapt faster to new conditions, making it easier for you to acclimate.

Think of what you did every day at home and what gave you joy. Try to bring the common things back into your life. For example, watching a movie or reading a book before bed, morning coffee, daily jogging, and taking a hot bath. Let the usual rituals into your new life. This will help you realize that even without a home, you remain the same person and can continue to live.

Keep a diary of your emotions and experiences. You can record yourself on video or write down how you feel. It is important to write down everything you felt, what emotions you experienced during the day, what made you angry or upset, and what made you smile. This allows you to track your mindset’s dynamics. It’s also a great way to speak out without fear of condemnation and misunderstanding.

Meet Ukrainians who live near you. Keep in touch with them, plan joint dinners and gatherings, and discuss the future victory of Ukraine. Sing Ukrainian songs and share your thoughts on what you will do when you have the opportunity to return home. If possible, help and support your fellow citizens, both those who left and those who remained in Ukraine. This is incredibly strong, and it will unite everyone. You will feel that they are not alone. After all, you are all now fighting for the same values.

Try to decorate your new home in the way you are used to. If you were lucky enough to bring some memorabilia from home, put it in a prominent place you will most often pay attention to. If there were no such things in the alarm case, remember what your bedroom looked like. Maybe you had a favorite flower on your table that you constantly watered? Buy one as similar as possible and put it on the table in your new room. Or was there a photo frame next to the bed at home? Print this photo from your phone, buy a new, similar frame and put it on your bedside table. Find a similar cup to the one you used to drink coffee or tea from at home. At first glance, impulsive purchases will benefit you, help you adapt, get used to life more quickly, and bring the necessary comfort and natural feeling of home into your new home.

Try to make the most of your day. Cleaning, cooking, sports, meditation, and yoga will help you relax and distract from obsessive thoughts. Don’t let bad thoughts have a chance to consume you.

Communicate with family and friends via video call. It is much more pleasant and useful than mail and regular calls. Dine at the same time as them, choose clothes for the day, and watch the same movies. This will bring you closer and give you the feeling that you are with them.

Show every emotion you experience, don’t keep anything in yourself. Cry, scream, laugh, but don’t hold them inside. Hidden feelings will almost always make themselves felt. After a week or even a month, you will experience fatigue, headaches, malaise, and a lack of motivation.

Look for new opportunities. Join clubs of interest, look for work, join volunteers, and go to action rallies to support Ukraine. This will help you find like-minded people, get distracted, and be useful to your country and army.

Try to redirect negative emotions into gratitude. Give gratitude to the people who sheltered you and provided you with food and security – gratitude to the army that protects your country so that you return home as soon as possible. Even give thanks to the cashier at the supermarket who smiled at you today. You cannot imagine how the little things will make your life better and calmer.

Realize why you can’t go home right now. Remember that the war is not over yet, that your homeland is not yet safe. Listen and trust only official sources of information in Ukraine and wait until they announce permission to return home.

And most importantly, don’t lose hope. Believe everything will end soon. You will return home and rebuild a strong and already free Ukraine.

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