Homesick? – Start here to learn how to overcome it

Muir Woods

How to beat homesickness with a proven scientific method

I recently discovered this following study about homesick college students: “Effectiveness of Cognitive – Behavioral Management of Stress on Students’ Homesickness” by N. Shahmohammadi et al. You can read it here.

Scientific studies about homesickness usually don’t show up on the first pages in the Internet when you google ‘homesickness’. You often have to look deeper into the vault of the Internet. You mainly see common tips for overcoming homesickness. These tips seem to be nothing new.

But this study intrigued me! Especially when I read about the results!

After completing stress management training, freshmen college students saw a significant effect on alleviating homesickness.

After completing stress management training, freshmen college students saw a “significant effect on alleviating homesickness”.


So what did the researchers do?

Using a homesick questionnaire, researchers determined that 88 out of the 225 freshmen university students suffered from homesickness. 50 from the 88 homesick students were randomly chosen to participate in this study.

Half of these students were assigned to an experimental group and the other half to a control group. The experimental group underwent a 10-session stress management training. The control group received no training. At the end, both groups filled out again the homesickness questionnaire to determine their current homesickness levels.


What did the training look like?

The experimental group received a stress management program based on a cognitive – behavioral approach. The “Stress management training program included 10 two-hour sessions during which skills like relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation, recognizing negative thoughts and cognitive distortions, replacing with rational thoughts, effective coping training, anger management, and expressionism are taught”.

In detail the training looked like this:

  • Relaxation is taught so that the students learn to use these techniques as soon as they recognize the physical signals of the stress and anxiety. By mastering relaxation, anxiety and stress resulted from homesickness is alleviated.
  • “Depressive mood is one of the outstanding characteristics of the people suffering from homesickness and feeling aimless.” Training of recognizing negative and depressive thoughts plays a vital role in reducing this depression. This means that the students learn to realize what their negative, pessimistic thoughts are. Some examples are: ‘I will never find new friends here. This town is ugly. The people are not very nice here.’ They then learn to replace these thoughts with rational thoughts like ‘It will take some time to find new friends. But it will happen.’ “So, it’s expected that cognitive reconstruction which alleviates the depression is also effective on adjusting homesickness.”
  • Training coping skills develops the students’ abilities to use problem-oriented approaches to cope with their homesickness. This way, they feel less helpless and more in control of their situation and demonstrate less of a passive behavior.
  • During the last part of the training the students become familiar with expressionism and anger management skills. This will help the students to “expand their social network by facilitating social relations and improving its quality and as a result, receive more social support.”


What can we learn from this study?

On the web, you will usually find the all so familiar tips, which will aid you in overcoming homesickness: Meet new people by joining clubs, talk to your family or friends at home about your feelings, …

These are all very valuable recommendations and you need to follow these. (In the training sessions they are taught as part of the coping skills.) But the result of this study opens up a whole different perspective and gives us many more possibilities and different angles from which we can battle homesickness. And promises us results!

We need not only the regular recommen- dations but also a stress management training program to have a complete solution for someone who suffers from homesickness.

Therefore we need not only the regular recommendations but also a stress management training program to have a complete solution for someone who suffers from homesickness.

It seems logic that learning to become a more optimistic person will help you to look more on the bright side of life and therefore make you feel better about your situation and your feelings.

Therefore learning to recognize your negative thoughts and replacing them with rational/more optimistic thoughts takes a major segment in the training. Additionally, being able to relax yourself is very important as well.

Looking back at my own experiences about coping with moves and homesickness, I realize that my optimism was the main tool that got me through harder times. I had days when I was quite down after our recent move to the Bay Area. Friends and family and a great job as a teacher I had to leave behind.

It helped me to think about all of the good things that are here in the Bay Area. For this, I came up with a list of everything that was better here than in my previous location in Atlanta. (Ok, now don’t tell me Atlanta has lousy weather. I am pretty used to the humid heat in the summer. First I was freezing here during the North CA summers.)

With this blog I want to help you to learn these techniques. If positive thinking doesn’t come natural to you then you can take advantage of this blog and read through my posts.


What can you do now?

I like to be hands-on and give you concrete advice what you can do right now. Here are some actionable steps:

  • Take a deep breath! This technique involves deep, even-paced breathing. The purpose is to slow your breathing, take in more air and relax your muscles. So, sit up straight. Breathe through your nose and use your abdomen muscles rather than the chest muscles. Breathe in and out in a 6-second cycle, 3 seconds in, 3 seconds out. When you breathe out, say slowly “relax” to yourself. Practice this several times a day for 3 – 5 minutes each time.
  • Start (refreshing your perspective and) developing a positive mindset that will empower you! Think about everything that is positive in your new home, things you didn’t have before. Do this every night. You can also think of everything that you enjoyed or were thankful for that day. This trains the brain to think optimistically and to be happier in general. A common trap is to dwell on our shortcomings or area of improvement. Although this can also be helpful, however it can lead to anxiety and depression if it is not balanced with intentional positive thinking.
  • Sign up for receiving the newest posts from me weekly with traditional tips and with groundbreaking tools for empowering you to live through the change. You deserve as good of training as the students in the study! As a bonus, you will also get a free App Guide with the 5 top apps for developing a positive mindset.

Of course, there is so much more you can do. But start here first and get it done. You will feel good about yourself and the day will seem a little bit brighter!

A more comprehensive stress management training is in the works and will be soon available to you for purchase. I happily accept any suggestions or needs you might have for the training course. Just shoot me an email.