As a natural born introvert, the constant bombardment of new people and experiences can be a lot. Being abroad means that everything is new, which can sometimes make coping with anxiety and homesickness difficult. Your normal support system and go-to places are no longer there and you have to find new ways of managing. For me, something that has been unexpectedly causing me anxiety has been spending time with big groups of my British friends. If you’re British and reading this, I do love you so so so much. I don’t really like being the center of attention or standing out. I don’t talk like them, I don’t dress like them, and I often make mistakes trying to find the places to meet them. It can all be quite the isolating and anxiety-inducing experience for me, so I’ve been working on finding ways that work for me to help with my anxiety and the homesickness that often accompanies it. I decided to sit down and make a list of my top healthy coping mechanisms for the many students who I know have similar feelings as me.
- Write in a journal.
This is probably my favorite way to help my anxiety. Faith is a central part of my life, so I turned my journal into a prayer journal. If that’s not your thing, having a regular journal will work just as well. Writing helps me process emotions and often helps me separate my anxiety from the rest of my life. I write in my prayer journal every morning for 30-45 minutes and it genuinely makes the anxiety feel so much less intense.
- Get exercise.
I accidentally forgot all of my workout clothes in the US, so I normally would go on a run but recently I’ve been turning to walks to get moving. IES Abroad London offers a running club as well as a yoga club which I’ve heard extremely positive things about. I find that exercise not only helps me feel better in the moment, but it also helps me get restful sleep at night.
- Occasionally watch shows or movies that you know all the words to.
I find that my homesickness is often helped by watching the American shows or movies that I’ve seen a million times and know every word to. Right now, my go to show is Friends and my movie is Moonstruck. Both of these I’ve seen many many times, but when everything is unfamiliar and new, it is nice to have something familiar. The familiarity of it all takes me away from all of the new for a bit and I find the small break helps my homesickness.
- Order the favorite coffee of a loved one.
I’m more of a latte girl myself (vanilla latte with almond milk to be more specific), but recently I’ve been finding I like ordering my parents’ favorite coffees. When I miss my dad, I get a mocha. When I am missing my mom, I get a cappuccino. Having their favorite drinks helps me feel a bit closer to them. The gap between the countries is smaller, even just for a moment, and my heart gets a rest from missing them.
- Listen to some John Denver.
Now I’m serious about this one. I find that there’s something about John Denver’s music that feels like a warm blanket or a hug after a long day. My roommates will tell you that they often find me with my earbuds in as I do the dishes or fold my laundry, and usually what’s playing is John Denver. It helps take my mind off of whatever anxiety or homesickness I’m feeling and I get a bit lost in the music. If you don’t like John Denver, listen to something that has the same effect. Finding peace through music is a way that I have always found helpful in times that can be challenging.
If you’re feeling homesick or anxious at all, know you’re not alone. Feeling this way is completely normal for a 20-something who uproots their whole life to move abroad. When overseas, there are moments where you are so happy you think you might explode, but there are also moments that are difficult. I have never once regretted my decision to go abroad. There are times that are just a bit harder than others, and that’s just where I’m at. I love my British friends with everything in me and I love my London life. The amount of love I have doesn’t mean I get a pass on these hard emotions. What I have shared is how I have learned to manage difficult moments so I can have more happy moments. I hope that if you’re abroad and you feel similar to how I sometimes do, you can find the ways that help you find peace and joy.
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<p>Hello, I'm Allison! I am a Public Relations major and I am very passionate about travelling the world and learning about different cultures. I am a serious foodie, and one of my favorite parts of travelling is being able to experience culture through food in the place I'm in. I spent my Winter Break this year in China which was probably my favorite trip I've been on! When I am not flying or taking a road trip, I love all things history. Here's a fun fact about me: when I take study breaks, go on The History Channel website and read different articles about whatever is going on in the history world. I am so excited to be spending time in London and to learn about all of the history and culture there!</p>