The first few days working in a new city can be exhilarating – but after several overnight shifts or working holidays without seeing your friends or family, you may start to battle a case of FOMO – fear of missing out – when seeing your friends from other cities having a good time or even struggling through a difficult situation. This can quickly turn into homesickness. Having to handle homesickness on top of other hospital stressors can make a 13-week assignment feel never-ending. That feeling can affect how you acclimate to your new home, but it doesn’t have to overshadow your entire assignment. Here’s how you can manage homesickness while on the road:
Know that it is normal
Even though travel nurses adore the new experiences they have on the road, they shouldn’t feel alarmed if they’re hit with a wave of nostalgia for home every once in a while. Karina Martinez-Carter, writing for the BBC, noted that building a life takes time – including developing a daily routine and finding like-minded nurses you can grab a cup of coffee with. So, don’t beat yourself up if you catch yourself longing for home or feeling out of sync. It doesn’t mean you’ve made a mistake. It just means you’re normal.
Find your safe space
Homesickness, according to Elizabeth Van Brocklin for Duke University’s Duke Magazine, is the sense of feeling separated from environments where we feel safe, supported and loved. Distance may make it difficult for friends or family to visit, but (as you know) technology can help ease the stress. Using Facetime or receiving silly snapchats or photos can brighten up your day quickly. Or you can try to find activities that make you feel like your old self. That could mean tracking down a cooking class or signing up for a weekly yoga class. Taking part in activities that you love will let you bring a piece of your home into this new place. You’ll also meet new people!
Bring some of home with you
For some traveling nurses, having a touchstone is a great way to stave off missing home. That can be a box of postcards from family, candies from a local hometown shop or a significant other’s old sweater. Keeping these items close can stop a case of homesickness in its tracks and help you cope. But make sure not to keep yourself in the past, constantly comparing home to your current assignment. It will be hard for your new city to stand out and for you to enjoy it.
Lean into the nostalgia
There’s an unexpected benefit to embracing your homesickness: By learning how to cope, you’ll likely protect yourself from future cases of it, wrote Kristin Wong for Lifehacker. By admitting that you do feel homesick and working to address it makes it less likely to happen with the next assignment – which is one of the biggest benefits of becoming a travel nurse. So, if you’re particularly down – or you’re yearning for a less political environment than your current hospital – journal about your experience.
Travel nursing is equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. With these tips, you’ll be able to focus on enjoying your new home.