Homesickness: 10 Holiday Self Care Tips

The holiday season, a time traditionally spent with family and friends, can be particularly challenging for OFWs. It’s a period marked by festivities, traditions, and togetherness, making the physical distance from loved ones more acutely felt. For OFWs, this time of year can intensify feelings of homesickness and isolation, as they navigate the complexities of celebrating away from home. This situation emphasizes the importance of applying OFW self-care tips when coping with homesickness during the holidays.

Balancing the joy of the season with the longing for familial connections, many OFWs find innovative ways to bridge the gap, maintaining traditions and creating new ones in foreign lands. This delicate balance underscores the resilience and adaptability of OFWs, as they hold onto the spirit of the holidays while facing the realities of their situation.

homesickness holiday self care tips
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Homesickness Among OFWs During the Holidays: A Common Phenomenon

According to a research paper in the Open Access Library Journal, homesickness is not just a fleeting emotional state but can lead to substantial emotional and physical distress, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even physical ailments. This study, which included an evaluation of 850 OFWs from various parts of the world, highlights the profound life challenges faced by these migrant workers.

The findings underscore the importance of addressing the emotional well-being of OFWs, especially during emotionally charged periods like the holidays.

This research holds significant implications not only for the OFWs themselves but also for their families and Philippine agencies such as the Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

These organizations play a critical role in providing support and resources to mitigate the impact of homesickness and improve the overall well-being of OFWs.

Key Points:

  1. Homesickness Impact: It can lead to significant emotional and physical distress, manifesting as depression, anxiety, and physical symptoms.
  2. Relevance to Holidays: Homesickness may be more acute during the holiday season, a time traditionally associated with family and togetherness.
  3. Importance for Families: The research emphasizes the importance of understanding and addressing the emotional challenges faced by OFWs for their families.
  4. Potential for Policy and Aid Development: These insights could guide the development of more effective policies and aid programs to support the mental and emotional health of OFWs.

10 Self-Care Tips for OFWs Abroad During the Holidays

1. Establish Virtual Gatherings

homesickness holiday self care tips
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One of the most important self-care tips for OFWs abroad during the holidays is to plan regular video calls with family and friends. The holiday season is a time for celebration and connection, and even if you can’t physically be together, virtual gatherings can help maintain emotional connections. By sharing in celebrations through video calls, you can still feel a part of the festivities and create lasting memories with your loved ones. So, make sure to schedule regular video calls with your family and friends during the holiday season.

How to Get Started / Action Plan:

  • Choose a regular time that works across different time zones.
  • Use platforms like Zoom, Skype, or Facebook Messenger for group calls.
  • Plan activities for these calls, like singing karaoke or sharing a meal virtually.

2. Create a Personal Holiday Ritual

homesickness holiday self care tips
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Being away from home during the holidays can be challenging, but creating your own holiday traditions abroad can help make the season feel special. You can incorporate familiar Filipino customs or adopt new practices from the host country. Whether it’s cooking traditional Filipino dishes, decorating your living space with holiday ornaments, or organizing a gift exchange with fellow OFWs, developing your own holiday rituals can bring a sense of familiarity and joy during this time.

How to Get Started / Action Plan:

  • Decorate your living space with Filipino holiday decorations.
  • Prepare traditional Filipino holiday dishes.
  • Listen to Filipino holiday music or watch traditional shows.

3. Connect with the OFW Community

Engaging with other OFWs can be a great way to celebrate together and reduce feelings of isolation. The OFW community understands the unique challenges and experiences of being away from home during the holidays. By connecting with them, you can find support, share stories, and create a sense of belonging. Consider joining online forums, social media groups, or local community events to connect with other OFWs and celebrate the holiday season together.

How to Get Started / Action Plan:

  • Join social media groups or community centers for OFWs.
  • Attend or organize meet-ups and holiday gatherings.
  • Participate in cultural exchange activities within these groups.

4. Mindful Remembrance

homesickness holiday self care tips
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Honor the essence of the holidays by creating a small personal space decorated with mementos from home. This can include photos, souvenirs, or items that symbolize your roots and heritage. Having a dedicated space where you can reflect on your journey and remember your loved ones can bring a sense of comfort and connection. It serves as a reminder of your identity and the importance of your cultural heritage, even when you are far away.

How to Get Started / Action Plan:

  • Set up a small area with photos of family and symbols of home.
  • Dedicate time to reminisce and reflect on fond memories.
  • Write letters or journal entries about your experiences and feelings.

5. Stay Active and Healthy

Taking care of your physical well-being is crucial for maintaining mental well-being. Engage in regular physical activities and maintain a healthy diet during the holiday season. Exercise not only helps keep your body fit but also releases endorphins, which can boost your mood and reduce stress. Additionally, eating a balanced diet can provide you with the necessary nutrients to stay healthy and energized. So, make sure to incorporate physical activities and nutritious meals into your daily routine.

How to Get Started / Action Plan:

  • Schedule regular exercise routines.
  • Explore local cuisine while maintaining a balanced diet.
  • Get adequate sleep and rest.

6. Cultivate Mindfulness and Relaxation

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The holiday season can sometimes be stressful, especially when you’re far away from home. Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga can help manage stress and promote a sense of calm. Take a few moments each day to focus on your breath, clear your mind, and be present in the moment. Cultivating mindfulness and relaxation can help you stay grounded and find inner peace during the holiday season.

How to Get Started / Action Plan:

  • Practice daily meditation or mindfulness exercises.
  • Explore relaxation apps or guided imagery sessions.
  • Incorporate relaxing activities like reading or taking nature walks.

7. Pursue a Hobby or Interest

Dedicating time to hobbies or interests that bring you joy and provide a sense of accomplishment is essential for self-care. Whether it’s painting, writing, playing a musical instrument, or any other activity that you enjoy, make sure to carve out time for it. Engaging in activities that you love can help you relax, recharge, and find fulfillment. So, explore your interests and pursue a hobby that brings you happiness during the holiday season.

How to Get Started / Action Plan:

  • Identify hobbies you can easily engage in abroad.
  • Allocate specific times for these activities.
  • Join local clubs or groups that align with your interests.

8. Embrace Local Celebrations

local celebrations
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Immerse yourself in the festive spirit of your host country by participating in local holiday events and traditions. This can be a wonderful opportunity to learn about the culture and customs of your new surroundings. Attend local festivals, visit holiday markets, or join in community celebrations. Embracing local celebrations can help you create new memories and expand your cultural experiences.

How to Get Started / Action Plan:

  • Learn about and participate in local holiday customs.
  • Attend community events or holiday markets.
  • Make friends with locals to gain a deeper understanding of their traditions.

9. Plan for Future Home Visits

Having a future visit planned to your home country can give you something positive to look forward to and ease feelings of homesickness. Knowing that you will have the opportunity to reunite with your loved ones in the future can provide comfort and motivation during the holiday season. Start making plans, whether it’s setting a date, saving money, or making travel arrangements. Having a concrete plan can help alleviate homesickness and bring a sense of excitement for the future.

How to Get Started / Action Plan:

  • Start saving and planning for a future trip home.
  • Set a tentative date to give yourself something to look forward to.
  • Stay in touch with family to coordinate plans.

10. Seek Support When Needed

If feelings of loneliness or homesickness become overwhelming, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional support. It’s important to prioritize your mental health and seek help when needed. Talk to a counselor, therapist, or support group who can provide guidance and understanding. Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources available to support you during this time.

How to Get Started / Action Plan:

  • Identify local mental health resources or counselors.
  • Reach out to OFW support groups for emotional support.
  • Stay in communication with family and friends about your emotional well-being.

Remember, taking care of yourself during the holiday season is essential. By implementing these self-care tips, you can make the most of your time abroad, maintain emotional connections, and find joy and fulfillment during the holidays.

When to Seek Mental Health Support

mental health support
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Recognizing when to seek mental health support is crucial for OFWs, especially when they are away from their support systems. Here are some signs indicating that it might be time to seek professional help:

  1. Prolonged Sadness or Depression: If feelings of sadness or hopelessness persist for a prolonged period, especially if they interfere with daily functioning.
  2. Intense Feelings of Loneliness or Isolation: Feeling disconnected or isolated, even when communicating with family or friends, or an inability to form meaningful connections in the host country.
  3. Anxiety or Excessive Worry: Experiencing frequent, overwhelming anxiety or worry about various aspects of life, including work, family, or personal health.
  4. Changes in Sleep Patterns: Significant changes in sleep patterns, like insomnia or excessive sleeping, that don’t seem to improve over time.
  5. Altered Eating Habits: Noticeable changes in appetite or eating habits, such as a lack of appetite or overeating.
  6. Decreased Interest in Activities: Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable, including hobbies or socializing.
  7. Difficulty Concentrating: Struggling with concentration or memory, which can affect work performance or daily activities.
  8. Irritability or Mood Swings: Experiencing frequent irritability, mood swings, or unexplained anger.
  9. Feelings of Worthlessness or Guilt: Persistent feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt, or self-blame.
  10. Physical Symptoms: Experiencing physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or a general state of being unwell that are not attributed to a specific medical condition.
  11. Substance Abuse: Increasing reliance on substances like alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism.
  12. Thoughts of Self-Harm or Suicide: Having thoughts about self-harm or suicide, which is a clear sign that immediate professional help is needed.

Recognizing these signs and seeking help early can lead to better mental health outcomes. OFWs should be encouraged to reach out to mental health professionals, support groups, or even trusted friends or family members when they notice these signs in themselves.

Video: Mental Health ng Mga OFW, Paano Alagaan? | Share Ko Lang

In this episode of Share Ko Lang, Dr. Anna Tuazon engages in a conversation with Rowena Ocado, a former OFW and Assistant Case Officer at the Center for Migrant Advocacy. They discuss the importance of addressing the mental and emotional well-being of OFWs, as it goes beyond the physical exhaustion they experience. Many OFWs often hide their feelings of sadness and stress from their families.

Join Dr. Anna Tuazon and Rowena Ocado as they delve into the topic of how to take care of the mental health of OFWs. Discover the strategies and support systems that can help OFWs navigate their emotional challenges while working abroad. Don’t miss this insightful discussion on Share Ko Lang.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is it important to address the mental health of OFWs?

It is crucial to address the mental health of OFWs because they often face unique challenges and stressors while working abroad. Being away from their families and support systems, dealing with cultural differences, and facing work-related pressures can significantly impact their mental well-being. Ignoring mental health issues can lead to long-term consequences and affect their overall quality of life.

2. What are some common mental health issues faced by OFWs?

OFWs may experience a range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, loneliness, homesickness, and stress. The nature of their work, separation from loved ones, and the pressure to succeed can contribute to these challenges. It is important to recognize these issues and provide appropriate support to help them cope effectively.

3. How can OFWs take care of their mental health?

OFWs can take care of their mental health by practicing self-care activities such as engaging in regular physical exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough rest, and participating in activities they enjoy. Seeking social support from fellow OFWs or joining support groups can also provide a sense of belonging and understanding. Additionally, seeking professional help from therapists or counselors can offer valuable guidance and strategies for managing mental health concerns.

4. How can families support the mental health of their OFW loved ones?

Families can support the mental health of their OFW loved ones by maintaining open communication and actively listening to their concerns. Providing emotional support, understanding, and validation can make a significant difference. Families can also encourage their OFW loved ones to seek professional help when needed and ensure they have access to resources and support networks.

5. Are there organizations that specifically cater to the mental health needs of OFWs?

Yes, there are organizations and support groups that specifically cater to the mental health needs of OFWs. These organizations provide counseling services, mental health awareness campaigns, and resources to help OFWs navigate their emotional well-being. Some examples include the Center for Migrant Advocacy, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO).

6. How can employers contribute to the mental health of their OFW employees?

Employers can contribute to the mental health of their OFW employees by creating a supportive work environment that promotes work-life balance, provides access to mental health resources, and encourages open communication. Offering regular breaks, stress management programs, and employee assistance programs can also be beneficial for the well-being of OFWs.


In conclusion, the holiday season presents unique challenges for OFWs, but it also highlights their strength and resilience. By applying self-care tips tailored to their specific circumstances, OFWs can navigate homesickness and isolation during this time. Whether it’s establishing virtual gatherings, creating personal holiday rituals, connecting with the OFW community, or embracing local celebrations, these strategies can help OFWs find comfort, joy, and a sense of belonging. The ability to balance the longing for home with the embrace of new experiences showcases the remarkable adaptability and determination of OFWs. As we recognize and support their journey, let us celebrate the spirit of the holidays and extend our appreciation to the OFWs who make sacrifices to provide for their families and contribute to the global community.

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