"You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That's is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place."
Mirim Adaney defines very well in this couple of sentences the difficulties of being an expatriate or living far away from our family and friends. All of us who have gone through this experience know how enriching and challenging it can be at the same time.
But what happens if we add to the difficulties of living away from home (often in a new culture and with a different language), the social distancing measures, and the restrictions due to COVID? Sounds complicated, doesn't it?.
It is, and it is primarily for two reasons:
This feeling of being between two worlds, it's accentuated because, on the one hand, we cannot fully connect with the new one (establish new connections, have a satisfactory social life, go out, travel, get to know this new place, its culture, and its people) and on the other hand, we feel and are physically farther away from our roots.
In short, the process of cultural adaptation becomes much heavier and more difficult, and the impossibility of returning home is added, which produces tremendous homesickness or what we call in Spanish "MORRIÑA".
Homesickness is the feeling of sadness or grief that one feels when being away from one's homeland or loved people or places. And this very natural feeling that we experience when we are away from home is tremendously exacerbated by the uncertainty surrounding us these days due to the pandemic's consequences.
Previously, a great way to deal with this sadness was to sign up for activities that facilitated social contact, to plan the next vacation to go home, to have a definite date that allowed us to cross days off the calendar, but now, with the restrictions that accompany us, this becomes tremendously difficult and even impossible to carry out.
When we enter into this state of homesickness, we may experience challenging emotions and feelings such as sadness, fatigue, inability to concentrate, frustration, tiredness, anger... And although all of these are considered completely normal, sometimes they are very unpleasant, and the intensity can make us need some help to deal with them.
So what can we do if this happens to us?
Well, first of all, understand that what we feel is entirely normal.
As we have explained, living away from home, although it is a super enriching experience, always entails a certain degree of difficulty that is exacerbated by the current situation we are dealing with. Be patient, be aware that much of what happens is caused by the context, allow yourself to "feel sad" at times, and ask for help if necessary.
And from here, look for solutions that make us deal with this situation and symptomatology in the most positive way possible. For this, here are some tips and ideas that can help us to cope and improve our mental health in situations like this:
If, after trying all this, you still have difficulties and these emotions affect and tarnish other areas of your life, remember that you can always ask for professional help.
Talking about our pain does not make it bigger; it helps us to alleviate and heal it.