Help with homesickness

Feeling homesick and being somewhere strange can be horrible. You might feel like a duck out of water.

What’s more, you miss all the people and things you usually have around you.  If you are in hospital you are probably feeling sick as well as homesick – it’s a double-whammy.

But don’t worry – homesickness doesn’t have to happen. And even if it does, we can help you give it the heave-ho!

This isn’t home!

It’s normal to feel homesick in hospital. Being in a strange place – or in different surroundings can be unsettling. This is especially the case if you’re not feeling well, and you haven’t chosen to be there!

Studies say that nearly half of kids away from home (like in hospital) are homesick. So don’t worry – these feelings are natural.

But there are lots of ways to help you feel better. These can help to deal with the days when you are feeling homesick.  If you follow the tips below – you may feel happier and less homesick.

When you are feeling good, your immune system works better and your body heals faster. So if you have to hang out in hospital, let the homesickness happen, and then be a hero!

How to be a hero

First of all it’s okay to share your feeling with your mum and dad, or staff at the hospital. Nurses and other staff see homesick children all the time.

They also know that the homesickness often disappears. This is when you find out that there is lots to do in hospital to keep you busy! It’s a place where you can make new friends and do all sorts of different stuff.

There might also be a play specialist at your hospital. He or she can help to keep you busy. This way you won’t dwell on being in hospital – you may even forget where you are!

Hints to keep homesickness at bay

  • Visit the hospital's website before you go – this way you’ll feel more familiar with it.
  • Take photos of your parents and siblings (brothers and sisters) with you. Get them to visit you as soon as they can. 
  • Pack something that reminds you of home. This could be a picture or favourite toy – something you can put on your bedside table.
  • Make a list before you go into hospital of how it is going to help you. Make another list of all the times you have been able to do something really difficult. Put these lists on the wall to remind you why it is important to be in hospital. And, of course, how strong you can be!
  • Hospitals often keep in touch with your school and sometimes your hospital will have a school you can go to. Doing schoolwork can make things feel more normal.  
  • Having your own artwork around really helps too. Put the things you make and do in hospital on the walls in your room.

Relax – just take it easy!

Clinical psychologist, Kathryn Bond, says: “One way to feel better when you are homesick is to try out some relaxation games. These will help you to turn off some of those unhappy feeling in your body.

  • Take some slow deep breaths in through your nose. Then blow out for as long as you can from your mouth (like you are trying to blow a balloon away from your face)
  • Close your eyes and take time to notice how your body feels. Starting with your forehead, squeeze all your muscles up tight whilst counting to five. Then relax. Do this three times and then move down to your neck and shoulders. Go down your whole body doing this right to the tips of your toes. This will help your body to chill out.
  • Close your eyes and imagine your favourite place. It can be anywhere, like a beach, your bedroom at home or even floating on a cloud! Imagine what it looks like, what can you hear, what can you smell and what are you doing in as much detail as possible.

If you start practising these tips now when you feel homesick you will quickly be able to feel better. Try to get your parents or an adult to help you.

If you do feel homesick, try to follow the hints we’ve given. If this still doesn’t help – tell someone how you are feeling. Remember to always try and take part in anything going on around you. Keep as busy as your condition lets you, and remember home isn’t going anywhere! You’ll probably be back before you know it!