The pandemic has taken many things from us, including our ability to reunite with our family and friends in other countries freely. For many expats, this loss has felt even more keenly. While some flight paths may be opening again, others remain closed, and travel restrictions still prevent many from even securing a flight.

In May 2021, the insurance firm William Russel conducted a survey of 1,100 expatriates worldwide. Participants were asked to share their feelings about how the COVID-19 pandemic had affected their mental health. More than one-third felt that their mental health had worsened, and 44 percent said they wished they were in their home countries during the crisis.

Far from a passing or temporary feeling, homesickness can have some very real mental and physical manifestations. According to the BBC, it can be debilitating and lead to anxiety and depression in its worst forms.

Staying on top of the funk of homesickness is tricky at the best of times, but these tips on staying connected to the home may help.

1. Beware the victim mindset

When things start to go wrong in one’s life, it’s all too easy to blame external factors, or worse, others around you. Falling into a victim mindset can exacerbate the problem, though, and ultimately make you feel worse.

Allegra Stein, a relocation coach, based in New York, told the BBC that owning where you are and what choices led you to that decision can help mitigate this situation — a lo hecho, pecho .

2. Stay in touch with home

In 2021, it’s never been easier to stay in touch with loved ones. From WhatsApp to Signal, the choice of digital communications platforms is expansive. While Zoom fatigue might be real, if you’re feeling homesick, it’s still an excellent way to see and speak to people back home. Granted, it’s not quite the same and speaking in person, but it’s a decent second best.

Remember that staying in touch doesn’t necessarily mean long phone or video calls, though. Even sharing a few memes or jokes with friends back home or writing in your native language can make all the difference to your day.

3. Connect to your nation’s cultural productions

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with American television. In fact, a lot of it is great, but it’s never quite the same as watching shows and movies from your home country.

Cultural productions aren’t born in a vacuum, so it makes sense that your country’s TV programs, for instance, are uniquely informed and speak to your own sense of humor and outlook. Try using a VPN to skirt geo-blocking restrictions and connect to on-demand television from home.

4. Cook up a storm

Missing empanadas, sopapillas, and/or tostones? Source some ingredients, get in the kitchen and cook up the kind of storm that transports you to home. Gather a group of fellow Latino expats and make a party of it (with any self-distancing rules in place, of course).

Can’t or won’t cook? Luckily there are plenty of excellent Latin restaurants in the US, so either order in or book a table for the night and gorge to contentment.

Being homesick is hard; being homesick in a pandemic is arguably even worse. Try these four tips to stay connected to home as best as possible under difficult circumstances.