Living Away from Home: 7 Tips for Your First Time Alone

Carolina Jacobs

Sep 9, 2022
Living away from home for the first time can feel daunting, but you can do it.

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Many students experience crushing homesickness when living away from home. Homesickness can feel like anxiety in a new place, grief over missing daily life at home, and panic over what the future may bring. It’s a complicated emotion that can be hard to handle.

If that’s you, hang on – these feelings will get better as you create a life that makes you happy away from home. In the meantime, there are several things you can actively do to manage your feelings of homesickness. Here are seven tips for living away from home. 

  1. Accept Your Feelings

Homesickness is nothing to be ashamed of. According to a 2016 survey, 70% of American students report feeling homesick. You aren’t flawed because you miss your family and friends from back home. Adjusting to a new environment takes time, so don’t beat yourself up if you feel distressed and lonely for a while. 

It can be helpful to observe and acknowledge your feelings instead of trying to immediately control them. You don’t want to make your homesickness worse by coddling it. However, with time your emotions will change and adapt. Accept your feelings and realize that you won’t feel this way forever. 

  1. Make Connections

Loneliness can exacerbate your homesickness by creating a stark contrast between home and school. One of the best ways to reduce homesickness is to make new friends so that you have a local support network. That said, it can be challenging sometimes to find a good friend group at school. 

The best strategy is to meet as many new people as possible. Push yourself to go to events and introduce yourself to new people every day. Look for people who are honest, kind and have shared values. You don’t have to find a best friend at school to have a vibrant friend group that cuts the loneliness. 

  1. Go to Bed Early

It can be challenging to stop feeling sad when you’re tired because you’re not operating at full capacity. To avoid late-night loneliness, plan to go to sleep early. Getting plenty of rest will also protect your health and reduce anxiety during the day when you’re living away from home. 

If you’re having trouble falling asleep, create a bedtime ritual that helps you relax and turns your mind to happy thoughts. For example, you could read a funny book for a few minutes before bed every night. Listening to soothing music can also help your body shut down for sleep.

  1. Laugh a Lot

Laughter truly is the best medicine. The more laughter you can work into your day, the better you’ll feel and the less homesick you’ll be. Plan an impromptu dance session in your dorm room or make faces at yourself in the mirror. Watch a funny YouTube video or movie when you’re home alone. 

Unfortunately, laughing by yourself can sometimes make you even more homesick. If you’re experiencing this, prioritize spending more time out with other people. Even laughing at a video in a coffee shop is better than doing it alone in your bedroom. You can also call a loved one from home to share a laugh.  

  1. Work Out

Exercising does wonders for your mood and can really help to push back against homesickness. You’ll feel better about everything in life after a good workout. At many colleges, you can also spend that time surrounded by other people in a school gym. Going to the gym together is a great way to develop new friendships. 

If going to a gym isn’t your thing, try using Zoom to work out with a friend from home. You can share your screen and follow a Youtube video together. This is a great way to stay connected while improving your mental and emotional health through movement. A less complicated option is to take a walk outside to spend time in nature. 

  1. Keep a Journal

You may want to never think about being homesick again. However, journaling about your experiences can help you process life and build emotional stability. Journaling doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful – it’s simply you putting down your thoughts and feelings on paper. You can write full sentences, make bullet points or even draw pictures. 

Writing by hand can help to slow your mind, or you can type if that works better for you. You’ll get the most benefit out of journaling if you write consistently. This can be a good way to end your day, or a practice that recenters you in the morning or early afternoon. Another benefit of journaling is that you’ll be able to look back on your early days at school and see how far you’ve come. 

  1. Plan for Fun

Homesickness tends to strike when you’re all alone and doing nothing. One of the best ways to stave off feelings of homesickness is to have something you’re looking forward to. For example, planning to get ice cream or take a solo trip to Target can keep you positive during the day. You could also make special plans to stay in and watch a movie or call a friend from home. 

Going home to visit is often a great way to reduce homesickness. Instead of missing home, you can look forward to your next visit back. However, sometimes going back home can make the return to school worse. Try to strike a balance between going home and creating a life you love at school. 

Being at Peace With Living Away From Home

Moving away from home can be challenging because everything is so different. It’s normal to miss the people and places from back home and struggle to feel like you belong at school. However, with time, your feelings of homesickness will fade and you’ll begin to enjoy being on your own. 

Follow these seven tips to reduce homesickness and practice happiness right where you are. Even if your feelings of homesickness never fully fade, you’ll be able to get more out of school and graduate with new friends and more confidence in yourself. You can do this!

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