14 Tips to Deal with Homesickness for OFWs in Canada

It’s not uncommon that many Filipinos go abroad to countries like Canada for a better life. But being away from home can be hard. Many of them suffer in silence in a condition known as homesickness.

When we leave the Philippines for work or for a trip, there will be a time when we feel homesick. It’s usually due to the people we love and the routines we have in place plus the adjustments to life in a foreign country, no matter how long or short your stay there is.


How OFWs in Canada can Deal with Homesickness

It’s not uncommon that many Filipinos go abroad to countries like Canada for a better life. But being away from home can be hard. Many of them suffer in silence in a condition known as homesickness.

According to researchers, homesickness is a sign of mental distress that occurs when people experience separation from their home. It can be triggered by various factors such as loneliness, lack of communication, and the desire to be closer to their loved ones.

Being homesick is normal, and everybody has experienced it. However, it is different for everyone. Some people get emotional and others are a bit depressed. The good news is that there are several ways to get over it. Here are some practical ways on how you can overcome homesickness wherever you may be in the world.

What are the symptoms of Homesickness?

The symptoms of homesickness include loneliness, feelings of anxiety, depression, and lack of motivation. It can also be hard to maintain a positive outlook on life.

Homesickness affects a person’s entire functioning, and is not only to be considered as low morale or having a bad mood. It can manifest in a variety of ways, such as a disturbed sleeping pattern, feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and even depression – for which, at times, professional help is advised.

So, what are some ways to deal with homesickness while you’re in Canada? Here are 14 practical tips you can follow to cope in a healthy and positive manner.

1. Explore Your Area

Instead of staying at a hotel or a house, go out and explore the places that you are in. Doing so will help you feel at home. There are plenty of places to visit and things to do that will make you feel at home.

When making a new home away from  your home in the Philippines, one of the first things you should do is to visit new places. Doing so will help break down the barriers of homesickness and allow you to enjoy the culture.

Being an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) can experience culture shock when they’re in a new environment. This is normal, and it’s important to maintain a balanced mind when it comes to dealing with this.

Canada is a huge and unique place to visit.  That said, there are plenty of places you can explore, whether with friends or even on your own.  And the places you can visit vary with the seasons – that’s because Canada has four seasons, which make traveling even more fun and exciting!

2. Connect with the Local Community or Make New Friends

It’s important to have the same support system when traveling. Ideally, look for people who have similar interests and are likely to get along well with you.

You can open up and get help from people who are close to you, so that you can feel better about yourself and avoid being homesick. They will also teach you how to cope with situations that might arise.

The good news is that Filipinos are the third-largest Asian-Canadian group, with over 837,130 now living in the country. But this is expected to increase further since Canada has opened its borders to more immigrants thru various programs. If connecting with a community is what you’re after, there’s no lack in Filipino community in Canada! From neighborhoods and churches, to community organizations – there’s likely to be a friendly Filipino face you can find in the area!

3. Maintain Open Communication.

Keep in touch with your loved one through various platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Viber. However, don’t overdo it. You might get jealous of what they are up to, especially if they are not there.

Also, remember that even with the convenience of technology, you still need to keep in mind the time difference of the Philippines and Canada. For this reason, setting a regular schedule of calls can be helpful, as it can help you and your loved ones adjust to the time difference in your countries.

4. Think Positive.

As they say, your thoughts determine the quality of your life. That being said, don’t let negative thoughts get in the way of leading a good life. Choose to be happy. It can take some effort, but you can start by thinking of all the possibilities that can happen to you, and focusing on the bright side of life – such as having people who enjoy your company, or even being with those who can help you become fluent in a language. Not only can you become fluent in English, but there’s also French being the major languages used in the country! How exciting is that?

5. Be sure to let your thoughts out… at least once in a while.

There are people who really feel down when they are homesick, but not everyone experiences this. If you are that person, then it’s okay to talk about it and find a friend. There’s no shame in being depressed or sad when you are feeling this way.

And if talking doesn’t provide the help that you need, you should know that Canada is a progressive country, where topics like mental health and depression can be discussed in the open. Still, if you feel that you can benefit from professional help, don’t hesitate to talk with an expert on the matter.

6. Keep a Diary

If you think this is so “old school”, think again. Intra-personal communication, which involves getting in touch with your inner thoughts and self-identity is completely a normal way to process your thoughts, feelings, and emotions that are typically hidden from the public’s view.

Writing down your feelings helps you feel better and keep track of what’s going on in your mind. It can also help you release negative thoughts and keep you positive.

7. Do Things that Remind You of Home

When you’re away from home, it’s okay to do something that will remind you of it. You can eat Filipino food, go to places that are related to our culture, and even talk to Filipinos. Be sure to check out the Philippine foreign posts in the country to see whether they have community events for Filipinos in the area.

Getting involved in local groups and events can help you recharge. It can also help you find the best places to visit in the city.

Having fun with other people is important. It can also help you get to know your neighbors and the area’s various neighborhoods.

8. Have a Friend Come Over

You can also arrange for a family member or close friend to visit you while you’re staying in your new home.

Even if there’s no special occasion, having a friend over can be the therapy that you need to get over a difficult time in your life or at least get out of your head every now and then.

9. Don’t neglect your “Me-time”

Being alone is beneficial, as it allows you to reflect on what has happened to you and what is important to you. It is also okay to be homesick. This does not mean that you are, in any way, weak. You just need to process things properly, sometimes with others. Sometimes, by yourself. So, don’t feel bad when you treat yourself every once in a while. Think of it as small steps to get you through in the long run.

10. Pick up a New Skill.

Your destination may have different cultures and cuisines, which will keep you occupied and help you avoid wandering aimlessly. Learning helps us reach our goals and keep us motivated.

Even if you don’t want to go out to mingle with a lot of people at a time, you can learn new things even from the comfort of your home – thanks to digital technology. So go ahead and maximize this by enrolling in a local or online course for self-improvement. Your future self will thank you by doing this!

11. Love Yourself a bit More

This can mean different things and not just simply splurging on yourself. You can focus on improving yourself, taking care of your body or investing on yourself in ways you could not back when you were in the Philippines. Invest in new experiences and continue to grow as a person even while you are away from family and loved ones. This is possible and something you can achieve!

Regular exercise can help migrant workers feel better and reduce their stress levels. It can also help control their weight and improve their mental health.

On the other hand, eating unhealthy food can affect a person’s mental health. It’s tempting to eat at fast food restaurants after a long day at work. However, it’s important to remember that being alone can make it hard to take care of yourself.

If you are working, treat yourself by going out for dinner or to a different part of the country. If you are traveling, indulge in a lavish hotel or a spa to get away from it all. Being happy helps keep us mentally healthy.

12. Recognize and Acknowledge your Feelings

Getting used to a new life is the first step to overcome the feelings of nostalgia. Set realistic expectations and accept that homesickness is part of the journey as a migrant worker.

Putting aside feelings is not an ideal way to go about dealing with a situation. It can make matters worse.

13. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to seek help.

There is no shame in asking for help when you’re abroad. If you’re alone, you can always ask for support back home.

Missing your family doesn’t mean you made a mistake. It’s natural to want them back, and it’s also important to know the root of your problems.

14. Reflect on your Purpose

If you are thinking about going back to your country, remember why you came to the first place. It’s important to know what you want to achieve in life.

There are times when homesickness makes us give up on our goals, but we should never surrender. Instead, don’t allow loneliness to stop you from reaching out to those around you and making dreams happen.

VIDEO: How to Deal with Homesickness for New OFWs

Here are some useful tips as shared by an OFW-vlogger, Duds Miranda, for new OFWs or those who are planning to leave the country and work abroad. He emphasized in this video that even before you decide to work abroad you don’t need to only be physically ready, but also mentally prepared for it. This is one of the first things you need to prepare for before working abroad. Add up everything mentioned above and you should have more than a handful of ways to develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the mental, physical, and social distress caused by homesickness.

Final Thoughts

Everyone has their own way of dealing with homesickness. It can take a while to get used to the new environment, but it’s also a reasonable reaction to a change.

Being homesick is okay, don’t judge a person for it. The world is big, and there’s always a place for you to explore. Your loved ones will always be there for you, even if you’re not there physically.

Being homesick is okay, don't judge a person for it. The world is big, and there's always a place for you to explore. Your loved ones will always be there for you, even if you're not there physically.

Embrace your new destination and remember that there’s a greater reason behind it all. You will get through it just like the many Pinoy dreamers before you did! Follow this guide and be grateful for the opportunity to experience new and challenging things – it means that you are growing!

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