Dealing With Homesickness as a New Travel Nurse

Written by Health Providers Choice on Thursday, March 09, 2023 Posted in Travel Nurse Tips


Remember when you were a kid off at summer camp or away from home for the first time? We all know that feeling of homesickness, which can creep into the pit of your stomach or lurk in the back of your mind. It can leave you feeling nervous, unsettled, anxious, or even downright depressed.

While homesickness subsides on its own for many people, the period when it lingers can take a toll on mental health. Worse still, some people can’t shake the feeling, and it sticks with them for days and weeks at a time. Homesickness can be a real problem for travel nurses. Thankfully, there’s more than one way to deal with it.

Depression and homesickness as travel nurse

Homesickness can cause sadness, loneliness, and anxiety in the short term. These feelings can be fleeting and may improve as a person becomes more accustomed to their new surroundings. Unfortunately, homesickness can linger for some individuals, significantly impacting their mood and mental health. It can lead to isolation, depression, and difficulty adjusting to the new environment.

From a mental health standpoint, homesickness can be considered a form of distress or depression and can lead to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and vulnerability. These feelings are detrimental to a person's overall well-being, potentially triggering a decline in physical health if left unaddressed — even more so for caregivers, who are already accustomed to putting the well-being of others first.

As a travel nurse, you aren’t always in a facility long enough to fully acclimate. This can cause homesickness — or even just the feeling of being displaced — to stick around longer than it might for others. Be kind to yourself as your mind and body try to catch up.


Homesickness is common; so is seeking support

Homesickness is a normal and shared experience, but it affects every person differently. It can have short- and long-term effects on a person's mood and overall health that manifest in different ways, from general melancholy to an unceasing on-edge feeling. Regardless of how it manifests, it’s important to understand homesickness as a normal experience you can both manage and treat.

Talking to a therapist or counselor can help you identify the underlying causes of your homesickness and develop coping strategies to manage it. Additionally, staying connected with friends and family through using technology, journaling, and engaging in activities you enjoy can alleviate homesickness.

Above all, bear in mind feeling isolated at your temporary workplace — and uneasy or lonely in your hotel or apartment — is normal. You’re always the new kid in town, and that isn’t easy.


Tips for combatting homesickness and depression

Working as a travel nurse is a grueling but rewarding career. Whether you’re a beginner or an old pro, taking care of yourself as you travel and work is important. Making small changes can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health.

Here are some tips to help if you’re feeling homesick:

  • Maintain a routine and regular communication with friends and family
  • Develop new, but familiar and comfortable, routines
  • Engage with coworkers or local activities to keep yourself busy
  • Talk to a therapist or mental health professional if things don’t improve
  • Take time between assignments to go home and recharge
  • Take assignments with a friend or in areas where you know people

As is the case with many things, homesickness gets easier to manage with time and experience. The more adept you become as a travel nurse, the easier it will be to acclimate to new assignments in new places. And in time, you’ll come to feel less homesick and more at home wherever your travels take you.

For some, homesickness takes time to overcome. For others, it’s quickly resolved. No matter how it affects you, Health Providers Choice is ready to help you find your next travel nursing assignment whenever you’re ready to work. And of course, we’re always here to support you while you’re on assignment. Contact us online or call us today at 888-299-9800.

About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.