So it’s the day before Christmas Eve and I am coming up to my third Christmas away from home. If you’re an expat then most of the time living abroad is an exciting adventure. But sometimes we start to miss our homes and friends and families, and when it gets extreme we start to experience the dreaded homesickness. Nothing is worse than being miserable and homesick during holiday time, but you can ward off these feelings of despair. Read on to find out my top tips for beating the blues this festive season and kick that holiday homesickness to the curb!
Nothing puts a dampener on your Christmas spirit like being homesick. If you’re feeling miserable because you can’t be with loved ones back home it can often make you feel like not even bothering with all the Christmas trappings where you are. I personally have been experiencing this the last few weeks, not feeling at all festive and only thinking about what it would be like if I was back home in Australia getting ready for Christmas with my friends and family. But instead of wallowing, I finally picked myself up and FORCED myself to get festive. And you know what? It actually worked really well! Once I actually put on some Christmas tunes, got out the tree and started decorating it and wrapping presents then I began to feel much more in the Christmas spirit again and my holiday homesickness faded. Even if you think you’re not in the mood for Christmas cheer, if you give yourself a chance, you might find it sneaks back up on you and you can enjoy your Christmas abroad without comparing it to what you’re used to.
Talk to a Friend
If you’re missing your friends and loved ones from home during the holidays, then make sure you talk to them! With today’s modern technology, you can send a lengthy email and receive a reply within hours; chat face to face on skype, or even write a long hand-written letter to send by snail-mail if you want to go the old-fashioned route, which can be much more special and touching. Christmas cards and letters are a great way to let people back home know you’re thinking of them, without needing to break the bank with expensive postage costs if you were to send a parcel instead. Even if you don’t want to worry people by telling them you’ve been struggling, you might be surprised by how supportive they are, and how much better you will feel after having a long and honest chat with your bestie – maybe even over a glass of wine!
When you’re missing home it might seem that the best thing to do is try to smother your feelings and not think about home at all. But sometimes reminiscing about what was so great about the holiday traditions of home can help you cheer yourself up as well. Make a list (or write a blog post!) about the things you most love about the holidays back home and enjoy those memories. Then see if you can incorporate any of those traditions into your current celebrations at all. But definitely don’t forget to also…
Celebrate Where You Are
Being caught up in missing home can often blind you to the wonderful things you could be experiencing where you are. Instead of being miserable, make an effort to celebrate what is so great about the holidays where you are. Instead of pining for a hot Christmas on the beach, go find a European Christmas market where you can rug up and wander among the stalls while drinking mulled wine or hot chocolate and soaking up the festive atmosphere. Take photos of the beautiful decorations, taste some local traditional foods and try to live in the moment and enjoy where you are! Share your beautiful pics with your friends and family back home as well, they’re probably missing you too!
Get Off Social Media
Sometimes too much browsing social media can only add to your holiday homesickness though. If spending too much time looking at others’ holiday photos from back home is making you miserable then take a break from social media altogether. Get outside, even if it’s cold and snowy (especially if it’s cold and snowy) and try to focus on just being where you are and enjoying the sights of your expat home. If you’re in Europe or elsewhere in the Northern hemisphere it can be very tempting to start ‘hibernating’ during winter, but getting outside and even just going for a walk will not only get you less focused on what you’re missing but exercise, of course, gives you endorphins which will, in turn, boost your mood even more!
Do Something for Others
If you’re trying to stop focusing on your own feelings of sadness or homesickness during the holidays, it can also make you feel better to do something nice for others. Thinking of others’ needs will make you more appreciative of what you have and you will also be getting into the spirit of the season by doing something good for another person. Bake some Christmas treats for your colleagues, or for people you know who will have to work on Christmas day, donate warm clothes, blankets and food to a homeless shelter for those less fortunate, and maybe even just top up someone’s parking meter so they don’t get a ticket. Doing something nice for others has the added benefit of giving you a warm glow, and taking your mind off what you’re missing.
Another good way to take your mind off holiday homesickness is to get busy doing something else; why not try getting into the festive spirit with some seasonal crafts? Once you’ve got your tree up and decorated with your Christmas tunes on, making some cute Christmas decorations for yourself or as gifts for others can also help you beat the blues and feel more like celebrating. Pinterest is full of ideas for easy and more complicated Christmas crafts and if you find you have a talent for something like this you could even turn it into a way to generate more money by selling your crafts at markets and/or online. Who knows, you might do so well you can even afford to travel home for Christmas next year!
Above all, remember to enjoy the holidays, no matter where you are. This is a time to celebrate, so don’t forget to enjoy the time with those around you even if you are missing ones that are far away!
Merry Christmas everybody! 🙂