University is typically associated with gaining a whole new world of freedom. Many of us eagerly anticipate the parties, pints and minimal responsibilities which come with moving away from home. Although some students thrive from the get-go, for others the thrill of living in total independence soon wears off. University is full of transitions, from freshers’ week to placements, which can seem exhilarating and exhausting all at once. These changes are also unsettling, leading to feelings of loneliness, vulnerability and uncertainty.
For some of us, loneliness can form a real cornerstone of the sought-after university experience even if it isn’t published in the glossy pages of a prospectus. In fact, a recent survey from Wonkhe found that almost 50% of UK students experience loneliness, with a third feeling lonely on a weekly basis. Perhaps unsurprisingly, anxiety, depression and drop-outs have been linked with loneliness.
Feeling alone amongst the hustle and bustle of a busy university campus can be incredibly isolating and suffocating. To help battle these blues, campuses are coming together across the UK in March to support University Mental Health Day. This year, tackling loneliness is at the top of the national agenda but is also a priority on our campus too. Promoting these conversations is important to shake off the stigma that clouds the topic.
Previous campaigns for UMHD have encouraged students to share self-care tips with each other. Here’s a few tips of my own that might help you to combat loneliness.
Keep in touch…but not too much
A facetime home can really help us to feel less alone. It’s important to strike a balance though. If we’re always on the phone to family and friends from home, we can end up feeling even more distant from those at university. Home will always be there for us especially during the holidays, so putting down our phones and embracing university life could be an important step in feeling part of the campus community.
When in doubt, why not go out?
From essays to job applications, the pressure of deadlines means we can become confined to our laptops and the library. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can be made worse when we lock ourselves away and are consumed by the silence. Next time there’s a deadline why not head out to a coffee shop for a change of scenery?
Cooking up a conversation
Our eating habits are probably first to take the hit when we’re not feeling our best. Following coursework-induced breakdowns, I’m sure many of us have made a few questionable take away orders. Perhaps it’s time to invite some friends over for dinner and dust off one of the many recipe books gifted to us by concerned relatives. Making a meal together is a great way to have a proper catch up and avoid the loneliness that dining for one can bring.
If you’re in need of support, you call the SU Advice and Support Centre using 01225 386906 or speak to a Wellbeing Adviser on 01225 383838.