Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


Where Do You Feel at Home?

Let’s renew the sense of home in our life.

Key points

  • We all need a sense of psychological home, a space of refuge, comfort, and security.
  • The COVID pandemic has undermined the sense of home for many of us.
  • We can take small steps to strengthen our sense of home.
Kakoivn1. Nha-cap-4-mai-thai. Wikimedia Commons public domain/ used by permission
Kakoivn1. Nha-cap-4-mai-thai. Wikimedia Commons public domain/ used by permission

We need a sense of home to feel safe, secure, and at peace in our world. Research describes home as a refuge, a place where we feel safe and secure, where we find acceptance, comfort, and renewal (Despres, 1991; Mallett, 2004). We need a sense of home to feel safe, secure, and at peace in our world. According to Canadian educator Kim Samuel, “Our sense of home is essential to an experience of belonging” (Samuel, 2022).

For many of us, “home” is where we grew up. But for years, people asked me, “Where are you from?” I didn’t know what to say. I’d moved across the country and around the world with my U.S. Air Force father on his many assignments. By the time I graduated from high school, I’d attended ten different schools.

All that moving made me more resilient and aware of different cultures. But I also felt something was missing from my life. Research has shown that children of military families or diplomats who move frequently can feel a sense of rootlessness, anxiety, and insecurity (Morris et al., 2017; Taylor, 2022).

Research has shown that we all need a psychological home, a haven from the challenges of the outside world where we can find refuge, security, and comfort (Sigmon, Whitcomb, & Snyder, 2002). Czech poet, playwright, and political leader Vaclav Havel (1992) described home as a multidimensional experience in which we’re surrounded by concentric circles of connection from our families and close friends to our neighborhoods, towns, workplaces, countries, and the world in which we live.

But many of us have lost our sense of home. Years ago, I counseled homeless women at a local shelter. These women were literally homeless. Most had lost their homes because of job layoffs and financial emergencies. But as Kim Samuel (2022) explains, many of us are virtually homeless; we’ve lost our sense of belonging and the deep relationships we need with the people, places, and natural world around us.

We lost many circles of connection during the COVID-19 pandemic. My local drugstore closed, as did the coffee shop where I used to meet friends for lunch. Our sense of home is also eroding because of changing corporate practices. Nearly every week, I hear of tech companies laying off hundreds of employees. Deprived of their salaries and workplace connections, their lives are disrupted. They’re forced to seek new jobs, and many move away. In contrast, after a devastating fire at his factory in 1995, Aaron Feuerstein, the CEO of Malden Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts, made the national news by continuing to pay his employees’ salaries and benefits for months while rebuilding the factory.

Our efforts may not be as dramatic as Aaron Feuerstein’s, but we can take steps to strengthen the sense of home for ourselves and our world. We can begin by pausing to mindfully appreciate the beauty in our own living space, neighborhood, and community. We can cultivate a greater sense of refuge and comfort where we live, perhaps by hanging a favorite picture on the wall, putting a comfortable chair by the window, or curling up with a warm blanket.

We can cultivate a stronger sense of home in our community by greeting our neighbors, colleagues, and the people we see each day, creating what psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., calls “micro-moments of connectivity” that benefit both people, dramatically improving our emotional and physical health by raising our mood, relieving stress, and reducing inflammation (2013). Over time, these small acts can spread positively to create a stronger sense of home in our community.

We can also strengthen our sense of home by volunteering for causes we believe in and taking steps to protect our natural environment. And at the end of the day, we can look up at the sky to connect in awe with the universe of stars sparkling overhead.

Can you think of one step you can take this week to cultivate a greater sense of home?

This post is for informational purposes and should not substitute for psychotherapy with a qualified professional. © 2024 Diane Dreher, All Rights Reserved.


Després, C. (1991, Summer). The meaning of home: Literature review and directions for future research and theoretical development. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 8 (2), 96-115.

Fredrickson, B. (2013). Love 2.0: How our supreme emotion affects everything we feel, think, do, and become. New York, NY: Hudson Street Press.

Havel, V. (1992). Summer Meditations. P. Wilson (Trans.). New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, pages 30-31.

Mallett, S. (2004). Understanding home: A critical review of the literature. The Sociological Review, 52, 62-89.

Morris, T., Manley, D., Northstone, K., & Sabel, C. E. (2017). How do moving and other major life events impact mental health? A longitudinal analysis of UK children. Health and Place, 46, 257-266

Samuel, K. (2022). On Belonging: Finding Connection in an Age of Isolation. New York, NY: Abrams Press,

Taylor, S. (2022). Disconnected: The Roots of Human Cruelty and How Connection Can Heal the World. Alresford, UK: John Hunt Publishing.

Image of home, Kakoivn1, Nha-cap-4-mai-thai, Wikimedia Commons Public Domain, used by permission. Nha-cap-4-mai-thai.jpg

More from Diane E Dreher Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today
More from Diane E Dreher Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today