Here's how to cope with loneliness at university 👇
Lockdown loneliness starting to kick in? Struggling with the monotony of day-to-day student life? At times like this, it's incredibly important to remember you are not alone.
Boredom and loneliness are rife across the UK right now. There are countless students in a similar situation to you, and they're more than likely just as eager to find some companionship.
Robert Waldinger, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, says: “Research has shown that human connection is a big way we get through tough times. We don’t do nearly as well isolated as we do together.”
We’ve compiled our best tips for dealing with student loneliness below.
🃏 Find your people through clubs and socs
Clubs and societies are the lifeblood of the Student’s Union. As a fresher, you more than likely attended a clubs and socs fayre in the search for a society that felt like somewhere you could call home. But, did you follow up on any of the invites? From media societies to the craft beer soc, K-Pop soc and baking club, most universities have something for everyone.
If you didn’t sign up back then, there is no time like the present to join a community of like-minded individuals. Clubs and socs come in so many different shapes and sizes, your chances of finding people who share your passions are high - so just take the leap. The more you put in, the more you’ll get back - in fact, many students call their chosen club or soc their 'second family!'
⚾️ Join a sports club
If none of the clubs or societies on campus take your fancy, it may be worth looking into subscribing to the camaraderie that a sports club brings. Teammates are a hybrid of friends and family, and sports teams at university are typically welcoming environments for people of all skill levels! 🤼
Not only will your newfound teammates help lift your sense of loneliness, but exercise is an excellent weapon to use in the battle for a sound mind and a healthy body. The post exercise glow is real, and there are few better feelings than the accomplishment of a good workout.
👩💻 Schedule regular virtual hangouts
From Mario Kart championships to head-scratching Zoom quizzes, or even crosswords with the family, we tried everything in the first lockdown to stave off the feelings of loneliness and boredom. But how many of us have actually kept up these awesome routines that gave us something to look forward to at the height of the pandemic? 🥂
While virtual hangouts may not compare to mingling with your friends and family in person, they really are the next best thing. Put some feelers out in your network, and you’ll likely be surprised just how enthusiastic people still are about meeting up online and sharing how their day, week, or even month has been.
🎮 Get into the world of gaming
Video games were once derided as an anti-social pursuit, but in the 21st century, they are anything but. The gaming community has escaped the arcades and burst into the mainstream, with publications like the BBC regularly praising them as an escape from lockdown loneliness. 🎮
Titles like Animal Crossing & Fortnite have proven to be incredibly popular throughout the pandemic and have fostered huge communities that are ready to be tapped into. Not sure where to start? Join the r/gaming subreddit and see if you can find a digital escape!
👋 Reach out
Sometimes, you have to take the first step before you can bear the fruits of sweet human interaction. Dr Weissbourd, a senior lecturer in Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, suggests battling lockdown loneliness by making sure to check in with friends and family once a week.
“A lot of people are so depleted right now that a simple hello can be really meaningful,” he says.
So, take a scroll through your phone, or dive into your digital address book and start firing out texts, emails and calls. You never know how much a conversation could mean to someone who is also struggling with loneliness right now.
🖥 Find and join online communities
One small positive that has come out of the coronavirus pandemic is that online communities are totally thriving. Gone are the days of constant stranger danger - say hello to mass pub quizzes, digital book clubs and online beer tasting - the internet has it all.
Popular social media apps like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram have huge communities, but can at times be toxic with negativity that could make your student loneliness worse. We recommend searching for an online community that is well suited to your core interests. Most importantly, remember to keep safe when communicating with people you don’t know online, and to never share personally identifiable information.
❣️ Make the most of dating apps
Dating apps have been absolutely booming in lockdown as a place for students to connect with one another, both romantically and platonically. All over the world there are stories of people coming together via dating apps throughout the pandemic. While we don’t advocate breaking restrictions for a physical date, online dating is a great boredom buster.
Whether by Zoom, text-based conversations or phone calls, meeting new people and sharing stories, interests and experiences is a sure fire way to battle feelings of loneliness and boredom.
📣 Seek help
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's COVID-19 technical lead, encouraged those who are struggling with poor mental health to reach out and talk to people they trust.
“Find someone who you can talk to, who you trust and someone you can be vulnerable with,” Dr Van Kerkhove said.
“I think all of us want to project a very strong and together persona, but it's important that we can express concern and express vulnerability and talk through that.”
If you feel like your loneliness is overbearing and everything you have tried hasn’t made any difference to your overall mood, it may be worth seriously considering seeking some professional help. There is no need to suffer in silence and taking the brave first steps to feeling better can be made easier with the help of another person.
Over the last decade, universities have made a concerted effort to increase the level of support offered to students. This can come in a variety of ways, including telephone/on-site counselling, altering your course schedule or even approaching the Student’s Union to get stuck in on that side of your university career.
How do you tackle loneliness? Help fellow students beat the isolation blues by sharing your tips on Instagram.