Create a sense of home from home
At the start of every university term I would unpack my suitcases and boxes, make my bed, line up my books, pin up my posters and photos and put away my clothes the moment my parents drove away. I was baffled by my friends who would take days or even weeks to unpack. It was partly a control thing, having disorganised belongings felt like an unnecessary stress, but it was mostly about wanting to feel at home. Having my familiar things around me created a sense of home in a tiny bedroom that, when empty, looked like hundreds of others in the halls of residence.
When I created a sense of home I was more able to relax, I felt safer, more secure, and it freed up space in my brain because I wasn't trying to make sense of this unfamiliar environment I was living in.
I've realised that in the 20ish years since I've been going through the same routine every time I've stayed at a friend's or relative's home, in a rented apartment, a hotel, and even when I've moved house.
Whatever kind of bad day we're having, however much we have to deal with, and no matter what kind of a mess might greet us when we walk through the door, it's still home that (usually) gives us a feeling of safety and reassurance. It's where we can truly be ourselves and we feel protected from the outside world.
When we're away from home it feels different because we're not in our own surroundings with our own comforts. However nice a place it is we can feel vulnerable because we literally don't have our protective walls around us. And this can create an underlying feeling of stress that can bubble along under the surface or show up as irritability, overwhelm or controlling behaviour.
Creating a sense of home, wherever we are, helps us to feel safe and comfortable, and eases the tension we can feel when we're away from our own home.
While it can depend on where you're staying and for how long, how much space you have and your mode of transport, there are steps you can take to create a feeling of being at home wherever in the world you are, such as:
- unpacking your clothes and belongings on arrival
- bringing along items from your bedside at home such as the book you're reading, a favourite candle or framed photo
- using your favourite pillow or toiletries
- wearing comfy favourites like your slippers, dressing gown or blanket
- bringing particular food or drink so you know you have the flavour of tea you prefer or snacks to hand, for example
- making time to do what keeps you feeling your best such as meditating or taking a walk
This isn't about ignoring the culture of the place you're staying or rejecting what's offered by the host, it's about bringing a familiarity of home with you so that you can create a sense of ease and comfort wherever you are.
How do you you feel at home when you're away? I'd love to hear what works for you, if there's anything that's a must-take when you pack, and how you notice it impacts your peace of mind during your time away from home.
Such a timely post for me. We are soon heading off on holiday overseas with my elderly parents, our elder daughter, her partner and their 5-year-old. So much potential for anxiety and stress! While away I will make sure I get some time alone each day and will stick to my regular routine (getting up and going to bed at the usual times) and meals as much as possible. I will literally walk away if necessary from conversations involving topics I chose not to discuss with some of the people we are holidaying with. I will be packing comfy pajamas and slippers, a favourite cozy cardigan and my kindle loaded with gentle reading – nothing too demanding or thrilling. Not a very glamorous list but hopefully one that will keep me feeling calm and able to relax into this family time. Thank you for talking about this and allowing me to think it through now before we leave. I hope you have a wonderful time away.
Shalagh Hogan says
Simple and yet very wise advice. I have been there, I have seen it in other people. We need to be able to trust ourselves to take care of us first. Intention and proactivity help us feel safer and better.
Have a lovely trip Gabrielle!