26. Homesickness

During the Holidays, and really any other time during the year, we can often find ourselves feeling a little homesick.  

In this episode you will learn:  
•What homesickness is
•Some of the things you might be doing to make your homesickness worse
•Other tools to help you navigate the feeling of homesickness

Whether you are feeling homesick for your actual home, or you ARE home and feeling homesick for your mission, listen in to learn what to do to love and help yourself through.

0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone? It’s Jennie, the LDS mission coach and you’re listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 26 homesickness. I’m Jennie, the LDS mission coach, and whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next. Hello, everyone, and welcome to the podcast. Thanks for hanging out with me today. I have some fun stuff I want to talk to you about. Today, we’re going to be talking about homesickness Doesn’t that sound fun, I just kept kind of thinking that, with Christmas coming up. And with the holidays coming up that many of you might be feeling a little homesick.

1:17 Some of you are on missions, and some of you are at college. And some of you are home from your missions, but kind of feeling homesick for your mission. So there’s a lot of stuff going on this time of year with Christmas. And so I wanted to do a podcast about that. Before we hop into that, I want to remind you that there’s only a few more days to get early bird pricing on mental mission prep. I do need to let you know that I won’t be doing a February group. The next time I do a group will be in March. So if you’re interested in becoming failproof on the mission, go ahead and go to Jennie dildine.com. And click on a strategy session for mental mission prep. And we will get you in there to get you all the tools and strategies that you need to thrive on the mission to be failed proof on the mission, including what to do with homesickness. We do a whole lesson about that. So go get signed up right away. Tell your friends tell your cousins tell your roommates, mental mission prep is the missing piece to your complete mission preparation on to homesickness. I did want to share a really funny story. Around this time of year I start thinking about my first semester away from home. And I was pretty homesick. The story that really sticks out to me though, and this will sound so funny to many of you is I was from the Seattle area. I actually spent my first two years of school at Rick’s College which is now BYU Idaho. But yes, when I went it was Rick’s and I still have a hard time calling it BYU Idaho. Back in the day, my parents decided to set up for me a charter bus back then. You didn’t necessarily just buy a flight for your kid home for Christmas. I got on a charter bus. So the charter bus picked us up clear up on the hill and Rexburg. There was no temple there at the time. And I got on the charter bus. And I remember, I put my suitcase under the bus. And then I drove we drove for so many hours. And we stopped at a few different cities along the way. And then my parents were able to pick me up in the parking lot of this Seattle temple. So it’s not funny. One of the very vivid memories I have of that bus trip is there was a guy sitting next to me who didn’t smell very good. So much love to you guy. If you’re listening to this podcast all these years later, he was sitting next to me and his head, he kept falling asleep and his head just kept falling onto my shoulder. And I just thought, Oh, I feel so homesick. I just want to be home right now. I would rather be anywhere other than sitting on this bus. Anyway, I made it to Seattle, it was all fine. And that’s just kind of how we did it back then on the charter bus. And then I took the charter bus home and when I got home, of course any of you who live in Rexburg know it can snow like this. There is I got home and the snow was up to my knees. And so then I had to truck my way all the way back down that hill to my apartment. The Riviera. Is it still there do is the Riviera still over there in Rexburg. That’s where I lived. And I pulled my suitcase through the snow Home. It was like I remember it was like blizzarding. And my scarf was blowing and my cheeks were getting red. Anyway, good times. And now me and my parents, we can just laugh about it that we did it that way. I don’t think we ever did that again. But it sure made me appreciate flying on an airplane to go home and see my family at Christmas time after that. So just a little story from my past for you all the good times. So today we’re going to talk about homesickness. We’re going to talk about what homesickness is we’re going to talk about why we feel homesick. And we’re going to talk about some of the things that we do, just on default when we feel homesick. And then we’re going to talk about maybe some more useful strategies for you for when you feel homesick.

5:52 So what is homesickness? homesickness, I like to think of is actually an umbrella that encompasses a lot of different emotions. I think of the emotions involved with homesickness, kind of in two buckets. Remember, what I teach is that your emotions always come from your thinking. So your thoughts create emotions, me walking down the hill with a suitcase in the blizzarding. Snow doesn’t create emotion, but my thoughts did. So we have one bucket of emotions, that kind of is thoughts along the lines of I miss being away from home. I miss my family, I miss being with them. We also might have thoughts about like missing out. So this bucket is where we feel like some sadness, some fear of missing out some longing, a little bit of discouragement. We also have another bucket I feel like under the umbrella of homesickness, which involves a thought sort of like, I can’t do this. This is where our brain, our caveman brain, that lower brain kind of starts to freak out about the future and the challenges that might be ahead. So these involve kind of more heightened emotions. I feel like maybe some anxiety, some worry, some fear, some overwhelm some doubt, self doubt. So these are kind of a whole range of emotions coming from different thoughts that I feel like are all under the big umbrella of homesickness. So when we talk about feeling homesickness, just know that we’re not usually talking about one emotion. We’re talking about a lot of emotions that kind of get all muddled together and grouped into one category called homesickness. Why do we feel homesickness it’s interesting to notice right, that we can feel the feeling of homesickness, not just when we’re away from home, we can feel homesickness in a lot of different places, and a lot of different times. And one of the reasons for this is something I want to share with you from Joshua klapow. He’s a clinical psychologist and an Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He says when we feel homesick, we’re feeling insecure or uncomfortable with where we are, physically and emotionally. He explained, we’re longing for something that in our mind is known, predictable, consistent, and stable. So we can actually experience homesickness anywhere. It’s sort of our brains reaction to a different location, to a different place to a different environment. When we feel insecure or uncomfortable, our brain will come online and give us these thoughts like I miss being away from what I’m used to, or this feels really scary and hard to do in the future. What’s interesting to notice here is one of these thoughts kind of is based on the past things that were happening to us at home or in that place that we’re used to. And one of these things is about the future about what we think we won’t be able to do or handle or we have worry or fear or anxiety about the future when it’s based on a thought like I can’t do this. There’s usually some things that we’re told to do with homesickness. I’ve seen this on the mission or I’ve seen it at college. Basically, we’re told to get rid of homesickness, one of the things I saw was to stay busy to find an outlet to distract yourself to go for a walk. Do something to distract your brain. Now, I am all for these options. The reason I think they work is because they get our thoughts thinking about something else. Besides these the past or the future, it kind of can bring our thoughts to the present moment, and help us focus on what’s going on right now.

10:26 But the thing that we need to be kind of concerned about when we just tell someone just stay really busy, if you’re homesick is that sometimes we can use this staying really busy, or, you know, distract yourself as a way to resist our homesickness. What I mean by resist is, it’s a natural tendency for our brain to kind of go into this worry about the future, and be concerned about the past. And then when we resist that, our brain gets even more insistent in wanting us to feel the emotions, and to feel heard and understood. I always think of our emotions, like an alarm system for what’s going on in our brains kind of like, Hey, listen, this could be scary. And remember the past where it was really comfortable and safe. We should probably be worried about the future, it feels a little bit scary there. So we just want to be really careful that when we’re taking these actions and trying to stay busy, that we’re not actually avoiding the emotion. When we avoid the emotion or resist the emotion, it actually gets stronger. So here’s the other thing about kind of following some advice about homesickness, and trying to do something to get rid of it, is that it also sort of insinuates or presupposes that home sickness is bad. And what we’re going to learn here in just a minute, is that homesickness isn’t actually bad. And we’re kind of learning this already, that homesickness is just your brain’s natural response, to change. And to this different environment. Homesickness is not bad. There’s nothing wrong with you, if you feel homesick, it actually shows us that your brain is working exactly the way it should. A couple of months ago, I was teaching a mission prep course with a couple of other gals from my stake. And we were teaching it to all of the preparing missionaries that were getting ready to leave. And someone said to me, Hey, what about that story about President Hinckley where he’s feeling kind of down and he’s feeling a little bit less motivated. And then he gets this letter from his dad that says, forget yourself and go to work. Now, this strategy might work for some of you this stay busy and distract yourself might work for some of you, and you’ll be able to just redirect your brain. But for some of you, this idea of forget yourself and go to work might not be useful. Some of you might need to be a little more gentle with yourself, and a little more kind and compassionate in redirecting your brain. Some of you might actually just need to allow your homesickness instead of telling yourself that this isn’t necessary that this is dumb that we feel homesick, you can just tell yourself, listen, it’s okay. That I feel this way.

13:45 And so along with some of the strategies of staying busy, of distracting yourself of finding an outlet, I want to just offer you a few other strategies that might be useful. I’m all for you always having an outlet to kind of manage your homesickness as long as we address it and don’t resist it. And don’t try to push that homesickness away. So I have three strategies for you that might be even more useful. If you find that it doesn’t work for you to just distract yourself. Number one, we can normalize the homesickness. Number two, we can just feel the homesickness and then number three is we can create new connections. Let’s talk about normalizing homesickness. This is kind of what I tell myself is this is the part where I feel blank and you can do this too. You can fill in the blank. This is the part of the mission where I feel homesick so even as we’re coming into Christmas, and some other like New Year’s and these other holidays were You’re used to being with your family. Just tell yourself oh, this is the part of the mission where I feel homesick. Okay. Let’s do that. Tomorrow, chance Ki is a psychologist and the author of freeing yourself from anxiety. She likes to emphasize that homesickness is a very normal part of the human experience. She said that many times, it could be about missing home. But it’s also about not feeling comfortable where you are. I love that so much because we think of homesickness as being away from home. But it just shows that our brain is not comfortable with where we are. And it’s fine. When we get out on the mission, or we’re in a different environment that we’re not used to that lower brain that caveman brain starts to freak out. Remember that lower brain is in charge of keeping you safe, it’s in charge of keeping you small and warm. And in the cave, it’s in charge of protecting you and keeping you alive. So listen, it’s completely normal. For you to experience homesickness, it is is just totally normal. Again, you can just say this is the part of the mission where I feel homesick. And oddly enough, when we just acknowledge it and just normalize it. It makes it a lot easier to manage your brain. Remember things it’s very important that it tells you this, all of the information it’s giving you about home being better and about the future being scary. Your brain thinks is important for your survival. Okay? So we can just love our brain thinks brain. This is the part where I feel homesick, and it’s totally fine. Number to feel the feeling. Did you know that our feelings are called feelings, because we actually feel something in our body. We can process homesickness this umbrella of emotions, the same way we process any emotion. And if you’re confused about what I’m talking about, go back and listen to episode number three, all the feels, and I walk you step by step through how to feel any emotion how to allow those emotions. We can give it a name, we relax into the feeling. And then we describe that emotion with adjectives. So when we are feeling happiness in our body, it feels different than homesickness. Most people say happiness is kind of a beaming feeling around their heart, that those rays are moving outward, that they’re yellow, that they’re kind of transparent. Homesickness just feels a different way. I like to say there’s no good or bad emotions. Emotions that we feel are just actually a different experience. Now, some of them aren’t fun to feel like homesickness, fear, overwhelm, anxiety, stress, none of those are super fun to feel like you can. They’re also just another vibration, another sensation inside of your body. The other reason that we can tell that there’s no good or bad emotions is notice that your desire to be with your family and want to be with your family is a good desire.

18:42 It is it makes total sense that your brain wants to be there with your family and that your heart wants to be there with your family. That’s not a bad thing. So don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you’re not an effective missionary if you feel homesick. This is the way I think about it. I can let homesickness be in the back seat of my car, or on the back seat of my two tandem bicycle, like a grumpy toddler. And that toddlers in the backseat being like, well, we missed the family. This is so different. This isn’t how I’m used to doing Christmas. And we can just be like, listen, it’s okay. I know that this feels uncomfortable, but I got you. And I will keep whining and fussing and we can say listen, I’m gonna take care of you. I want you to play with the idea that feeling homesick doesn’t have to make you a less effective missionary. Homesickness doesn’t have to keep you from feeling the spirit. You can think thoughts that create the Spirit in your life while your caveman brain your lower brain is kind of freaking out a little bit and sitting in that up the backseat. We don’t have to let that grumpy toddler get in the driver’s seat, and run our lives and, and suck us all the way into homesickness. We can just notice it, we can allow it, we can give it a name, we can relax into it, and then describe that emotion with adjectives. Sometimes I think of it like I’m carrying that homesickness around with me, like a heavy backpack. Actually, I grabbed my daughter’s my high school age daughters backpack out of the school today, and it was heavy. And she carries that around all day. And it’s okay for you to feel that homesickness. Let it kind of be with you. And also feel the spirit at the same time, it’s not one or the other, we can just carry it like a heavy mission side satchel. Like, oh, I just noticed there’s the homesickness. And we describe it with additive. While we’re teaching the lesson, while we’re talking to our companion, while we’re doing all of the things that we want to do, it doesn’t have to be one or the other, just feel the feeling, I promise you, Heavenly Father made our bodies to allow for emotion. And if we just relax into it, and normalize it, it will cycle on out, it won’t stay as long, we’ll actually move through the emotion, our brains will feel heard, our brains will be like, okay, they got the message. And then they’ll move on. Number three is create connections. Now, this is why I think some of these things like staying busy, or finding an outlet, or distracting yourself can be useful. Because connection is a feeling. And if connection is a feeling, it’s created by a thought. Now what a lot of these activities do is they get us into different thought processes. We create new thought connections. When we’re in a new environment, actual synapses start to form in our brains, which will create new emotions. So when our brains like oh, what about the past? What about my home? What about my family? Or if it goes to the second bucket? And I was like, oh, no, what about the future, this is going to be really scary. We can get intentional. And we can bring it back to the present to your new environment. And we can think, what do I want to think about this place? What do I actually want to think? What connections do I want to create here? Meaning, what thoughts do I want to think that create connection? Maybe it’s as simple as I love this tree outside of our apartment. Or maybe it’s as simple as I love how light it stays at night here. Or maybe it’s as simple as oh my gosh, this word is so kind and loving. So when our brain and it will want to go back to the old environment.

23:29 We can just and be like, Yeah, but that word, our home word is so much nicer. We can just talk back to our brain. We can say yeah, no brain, that was awesome. But what do I want to think about this place now in this present moment. And our brain will want to go to the future and be like, Oh my gosh, this might be terrible. And it’s scary. And I don’t know about this new companion or I don’t know about this new semester. We can be like, Yeah, I know brain. Yep, it is. It can be kind of scary. But what do we want to think right now about this new companion or this new semester, and we get intentional, and we decide on purpose, what we want to think, to create connection. I also want you to notice that the thoughts you had in the past about your family, you can also use now. So you can maybe even make a list of some of the things that you thought about calm, like my family gets me my family will always have my back distance can’t separate us. Did you know that those thoughts are as true on your mission as they were when you were at home? We can just adopt those thoughts and think them now and create connection now. So I love this idea number three of creating connection and remembering that connection is a feeling created by the thoughts we choose. I’ll never forget the moment when I realized that I could feel just as connected to my son living on a mission in Australia as I could, with him living in my home under my roof. It’s because my thoughts about him didn’t change. My thoughts were still the same thoughts like, I love him. He gets me, distance can’t separate us. I have his back. Family is everything. See how thoughts like that create connection, despite the distance that separated us. And this can be true for you right now. But you’ll have to be intentional, your brain will want to run on default and feel homesick, which is fine. If it does remember. That’s why we have number two, to just feel the feeling. But we can when we’re ready and done feeling the feeling we can create the feeling of connection with how we think. I love this analogy that Tamar Chatzky, the author of the book that I mentioned earlier, freeing yourself from anxiety. I love this analogy she shares. She says, I always share the analogy of a swimming pool. It doesn’t feel good when we get in at first. Right? And can we all relate to this? We get in the pool and we’re like, ooh, that’s cold. She says if we immediately get out of the pool, right, that moment, we would think why do people like swimming pools, this feels awful. But if you stay in that swimming pool a little bit longer, you start to see that you do adjust. And then you start to feel good. So homesickness you guys is an adjustment. It’s your brain trying to create new thoughts, and create the feeling of connection in a new environment. And it’s totally fine. Be patient with yourself and give yourself so much love and compassion through this process. Again, I’m all for you guys, like taking a walk and staying busy and doing all of those things if you need to, if you need to do service or whatever you need to do. But let’s not use those things as a way to not feel our feelings. Instead, let’s do those things and incorporate these useful strategies of number one, normalizing homesickness, it is totally normal that you feel that way. Remember, it’s just your brain freaking out a little bit. It’s totally fine. Number two, just feel the feeling. Give it a name, relax into it, describe it with emotions. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you’re not an effective missionary, you can feel homesickness and feel the spirit. Just love yourself and take care of yourself the whole time. And then number three, creating connection. But remembering that connection is not something that you do is something you create with your thinking. All right, you guys, I

28:23 hope all of this has given you something to think about and some stuff to consider when you start feeling homesick. Just remember, I’m sending you all the love. And you can create that same love and self compassion. With your thinking. Don’t judge yourself for feeling homesick. It’s totally fine. It’s just your brain. Give yourself all of that love and self compassion. All right, it was so good to be with you guys. Have an amazing week. Take care. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast today. If you want to learn more about the mental and emotional tools I teach young adults so they can overcome worrying anxiety serve the successful missions they’ve always dreamed of, and navigate their post mission experience with confidence. Go to Jennie dildine.com. Or just come hang out with me on Instagram at Jennie dot, the LDS mission coach. And until then, remember, no matter which part of the mission experience that you’re involved in Jennie, the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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