Many people describe college as the best time of their lives. However, for some people, the transition from living at home with their parents to being out on their own can be very challenging. Homesickness is very common for college students, especially when they first move out. It can take a major toll on one’s mental health, leading to anxiety and depression. In severe cases, it can even cause the student to consider dropping out of college and moving back home. While feelings of homesickness from time to time are normal, when it interferes with one’s ability to function at college it can become a major problem. It’s important to be able to recognize the signs of homesickness and take the necessary steps to remedy it before it gets out of hand.
Symptoms of Homesickness
Homesickness can affect everyone differently, but these are some common symptoms to look out for.
- A feeling of not belonging
- Feelings of isolation and loneliness
- Anxiety that is associated with being apart from loved ones
- Trouble sleeping
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of low self-esteem
- Feeling withdrawn and disconnected
- Trouble adapting
- Cultural distance
Treating Homesickness While in College
If you’re currently struggling with homesickness in college, the following tips may help provide some relief.
#1.) Find Ways to Keep Busy
Staying cooped up alone in your dorm room will only make feelings of homesickness worse. Instead, make sure to get out and begin to explore the campus. The faster you get familiar with your new surroundings, the faster your new community will begin to feel like home. Typically, freshmen students arrive on campus at least a week before classes start. Don’t let this week go to waste. Spend your time exploring the campus and preparing yourself for classes. It’s important to get familiar with your class schedule so you’re not scrambling around during your first week. It can be helpful to visit each one of your classes ahead of time so you’ll have no trouble finding them on your first day.
#2.) Get Involved With Your New Community
Making connections on campus and building new friendships can quickly help you to feel as if you are a part of your new community. Take advantage of the opportunities campus life has to offer and consider joining clubs or organizations that you’re interested in. This could mean joining a fraternity or sorority. If you’re passionate about music or art, seek out organizations focused on those activities. This will give you a better chance at connecting with people who share the same interests as you.
#3.) Take Care of Your Health
If you’re not taking care of your physical health, your mental health will likely suffer causing feelings of homesickness to get worse. While it can be tempting to want to indulge in all the options dining halls have to offer, make sure that you’re eating well-balanced, nutritious meals. Additionally, take advantage of your campus fitness center by exercising regularly. Many schools also offer options for free fitness classes. This could be a great way to not only reduce stress levels and stay in shape but to meet new people.
#4.) Avoid Visiting Home Too Often
While it is normal to visit home on holidays and special occasions, avoid visiting home too often. If you’re leaving campus every weekend and spending that time at home, it will make the adjustment to college life even more difficult. Instead, stay connected with family and friends in other ways such as phone calls, text messages, or regularly scheduled Zoom sessions.
#5.) Make Time for Socialization
While it is important to stay on top of your schoolwork, spending the weekends cooped up in your dorm room studying excessively can prevent you from forming new friendships and finding your place on campus. Look into what social functions are going on around campus over the weekend ahead of time and consider asking a new friend to come with you.
#6.) Avoid Self-Medicating With Drugs or Alcohol
When homesickness becomes especially difficult, it may be tempting to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping. Not only can this make your mental state even worse, but it is only temporarily masking the problem instead of getting to the root of it.
#7.) Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Many college campuses offer free mental health counseling. It can be helpful to speak with a therapist about how you’re feeling and work through the emotions you’re struggling with. They can also offer advice regarding how to deal with feelings of homesickness.
The adjustment of going from living at home with parents to living away at college can be a very difficult transition for some people. Homesickness is very common for college students, especially during their freshmen year. Homesickness can lead to both mental and physical distress and in serious cases, it can be bad enough to cause the individual to consider dropping out and moving back home. If this is your case, there are some things that can be done to help make this transition easier. This includes getting out of your dorm room and exploring campus, making time for socialization, joining clubs and organizations that you’re interested in, and taking care of your physical health and well-being. If you’re struggling with homesickness, know that you’re not alone and that there is help available to you. At Achieve Concierge we want to make your mental health our priority. Call (619) 393-5871 today to learn more