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.