Most of the time homesickness is quite mild, but sometimes it can be overwhelming, leading to headaches, stomach aches, nausea and stress. In some people it can lead to depression, anxiety and a lack of concentration.
To help you get through your time in Australia as calmly and happily as possible, we’ve put together ten tips for coping with homesickness.
1) Make a bucket list
Just because you’re living and working here, doesn’t mean you can’t be a tourist. Make a list of all the things you want to do and all the places you want to go, so you have things to look forward to - and invite friends and workmates.
2) Make your house feel like home
It’s important to make your living space as comfortable as possible. Frame photos of your friends and family, put up posters, buy houseplants, and do whatever you think will help you settle in.
Try to introduce yourself to neighbours, join a club or spend time in local cafes, shops and parks to meet people and become a part of the community.
3) Find a little piece of home
Seek out other people from back home and look out for events celebrating your country and culture, like film festivals, food festivals and national days. Find restaurants that serve your local food, or even cook a traditional feast for your friends or workmates.
4) Know your surroundings
Go to the most popular places, learn the bus and train routes, and try lots of restaurants, cafes and bars to get to know the city. Walk around your neighbourhood to familiarise yourself, and who knows who you’ll meet along the way?
5) Send local items home
Make care packages for your friends and family; spend time shopping for Australian items, like koala toys, boomerangs, and of course Vegemite. This will give you a fun purpose, help you stay connected to your loved ones, and teach you more about Australia.
6) Limit social media
Social media is a wonderful thing, helping us stay connected to, and meet new people, but it can also remind us of everyone and everything we’re missing. If Facebook or Snapchat is making you homesick, limit the amount of time you spend on them, and make sure you’re posting about your new life too.
7) Create a routine
A set routine helps you feel more at home. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time most days; set days for exercising, and rest days; get a coffee from the same cafe on your way to work; have lunch with friends on Sundays.
8) Look after yourself
It’s important to eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. It’s hard to feel positive if you’re always tired, hungry, or hungover. Join a gym or club, go to bed before midnight, and cook most of your own meals.
9) Find people with common interests
Hobbies and interests are a great way to pick up your mood and make new friends. Ask people at work if they’d be keen to participate. We also recommend joining Meetup, so you can find existing activity groups, or start one of your own. Parkrun is also a great option - free, weekly, social and timed 5 kilometre runs during weekends.
10) Ask for help
Sometimes you can try everything, but your homesickness or stress just won’t go away. Ask people at work how to get help, visit a doctor or community centre and ask what you should do.
There are also some great organisations in Australia where you can find out how to cope with homesickness, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Have a look at beyondblue, and Lifeline to start with.