Many of us dream of travel. We see photos and hear stories of far away places that inspire us and remind us that there's a whole world out there that's waiting to be explored.
We make our plans and save our money. We book the flight and buy a travel pillow. We tell our friends and family about all of the places we'll be going to, and then one day, after all of our preparation, we take flight.
Our dream comes to fruition and we land in a foreign place surrounded by a foreign language and a culture that we're not sure how to interact with yet. We're here, we did it! But why doesn't it feel as perfect as we expected?
We lay our heads down on a pillow that isn't ours and listen to unfamiliar sounds out the window. We start to miss the comfort of our own bed and the companionship of our far-off fur babies.
Our hearts start racing and we feel disappointed that we feel so unsettled. Reality doesn't seem to be matching up with our vision of the perfect vacation.
For us homesick girlies, no matter how beautiful our surroundings, we fear the unfamiliar.
In these instances, we need to learn how to tell our nervous systems that we are safe when we are in a new place. We need to make the unfamiliar, familiar.
"How", you ask?
I'll give you a few tools that I, myself, used on my last overseas trip when I felt myself quickly going down to panic town.
1. Bring your routine with you.
Do you have a morning or nighttime routine? Whether is a shower, a book, a supplement, a time of prayer- continue your routine in your new environment.
I like to bring both my morning and nightly routine with me and try to be as consistent with it as I am at home.
In the morning, this includes prayer, my skincare routine, breakfast & a cup of coffee.
In the evening this includes, again, my skincare routine, getting into pjs and making a cup of tea. On my last trip, I brought tea bags with me and had was able to have the comfort of a hot cup of tea at night. Boiling the water, smelling the familiar smell and tasting the familiar taste, getting in bed and relaxing with a hot beverage was incredible calming.
2. Soothe your body
Stretching and connecting back to your body is a great tool for regulation. If you're able to get into this habit before you take off for your journey, you'll be able to connect back to when you stretched at home and remember how it felt to be in a safe environment.
In my experience, nervous system regulation hinges on my body feeling safe. I can't really talk myself into regulation, I have to experience it. So engaging in a physical act that I am used to doing in a safe environment helps to build a bridge for my brain to decide that my new, unfamiliar environment, can be safe, too.
3. Call/text a friend/family member
Call or text someone who knows your heart and knows how to be present with you, but can also hype you back up and remind you of how excited you are to be on this trip!
4. If it's panic, it's time for a distraction
If you're feeling like your homesickness is turning into a panic attack, know that all this means is that some chemicals have been released in your brain and your body probably needs 15-20 mins to cycle through them.
So- distract yourself for 15-20 minutes while they run their course. Don't worry about figuring out why it's happening (you can do that later when you're feeling calm), just get up and do something mundane like folding clothes, taking a shower, doing dishes, etc. Give it time, let it pass.
Are you missing your boyfriend? Are you feeling guilt about the money you'll be spending on your trip? What's on your mind?
Journal it out and get those ruminating thoughts onto paper and out of your head.
These are just a few tools that have helped me as a perpetually homesick girlie. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I'm perpetually homesick; if I'm out of the house for more than 12 hours I start to feel anxious. I like my routine, I like being home, I like feeling safe and being in a predictable environment, but I also love to explore!
In order to bridge these two equally important parts of me, I honor my brain and body and use these tools to bring myself into an equilibrium.
Stepping out of our comfort zones and stepping into the unknown doesn't have to feel like a free-fall.
We have control over what we do with our bodies and how we nurture our minds, even in the midst of the unknown. You have more control over your experiences than you may give yourself credit for, and I promise that the more you believe in your ability to regulate, the more the world will open up to you!