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Coping with Loneliness at University

Oli Ottaway

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Coping with Loneliness at University.

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Studying at university can lead to a rise in a variety of emotional challenges, particularly loneliness and social isolation. While university provides students with the new-found freedom and independence that so many seek, it can also trigger intense feelings of detachment and isolation in many others. Along with this, the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly exacerbated experiences of loneliness, further revealing the need for enhancing the support available for students.

“More than one in four university students have said they feel lonely often or always, a report suggests.” - Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey.

Here at Roehampton, we aim to do everything in our power to ensure that ALL students have the best possible experiences during their time at university and receive the support that they deserve. If you are struggling with loneliness, here are a few tips that you might find helpful:

Join a club or society

While it can feel daunting to get involved in something new, becoming a part of a club or society can boost your confidence, knowledge of the subject and allow you to make new friendships. At Roehampton, we have a variety of fantastic clubs and societies for you to choose from. Click on this link to explore the options: Join a Society (roehamptonstudent.com)

We understand that making the transition to university can be difficult, as well as putting yourself out there and meeting new people. Look out for these fantastic upcoming events and activities that will provide a perfect opportunity to feel part of the Roehampton community.

  • Growhampton Activities such as wellbeing in the garden sessions (Thursday 30th 14:00-16:00)
  • Weekly Walk and talk sessions to the lovely nearby Richmond Park (every Thursdays, 11:30-12:30)
  • Inspirational Talk and Q&A panel about Mental Health and BAME community. This will be a great opportunity to meet new people (Tuesday 26th October, 14:00-16:00)

More events on the way!

Explore your passion

Getting stuck into something that you are passionate about is a great way to spend your time when you are feeling lonely. Whether it’s a book, a TV series or a hobby, do whatever brings you joy and happiness. It sounds simple, but it can make a big difference!

Connect in real life

If you feel comfortable doing so, get involved in in-person events at the university. This allows you to connect with people on a much deeper level and therefore, enables you to form stronger relationships. This could be through societies, RSU events or even eating a meal with your flat.

 

Spend your money on experiences

If you are looking for something worthwhile to spend your money on, it can be beneficial to spend it on experiences rather than things. London is full of exciting places to visit! Have a look here for some inspiration: London in 1 Day - 5 suggested itineraries (visitacity.com). There are also plenty of things to do in London for free!

 

Make the first step

It’s highly likely that you are not alone when it comes to feeling lonely. While reaching out to someone can be extremely nerve racking, it could end up making the person’s day because it fuels one’s sense of purpose. Don’t be afraid to take the first step!

 

Be kind to yourself

It can be easy to slip into the habit of negative self-talk and become frustrated with yourself for feeling lonely. However, feeling lonely is something that everyone faces from time to time. Practicing self-care is more productive than blaming yourself for the way you are feeling.

 

Speak to someone

Speaking about how you are feeling can make a huge difference. It could be your family, friends, flat reps or the Wellbeing team: https://www.roehampton.ac.uk/student-support/wellbeing-support/

Finding the person that will support you the best is key. You might find contacting an external organisation to be most helpful:

  • Samaritans call 116 123 for free or email at jo@samaritans.org
  • The Mix provides free, confidential help for under 25s online and via a helpline. Call 0808 808 4494, text THEMIX to 85258 or use their online chat service on the website.
  • If you are lonely or finding it difficult to cope in these uncertain times, call the free and confidential British Red Cross coronavirus support line on 0808 196 3651, open 10am to 6pm every day.

Online communities you could join:

 

If you want to support others with loneliness, here are a few ways you can help:

  • Make the first move. Start the conversation.
  • Make a gesture – it can be as simple as asking how someone is or inviting them to do something with you and your friends. As long as it feels natural and sincere, go for it!
  • Make them feel wanted – lonely people can struggle with self-esteem and therefore, it is important to let them know that you value their company.
  • Listen to how they are feeling, actively and non-judgmentally!
  • Find out what they enjoy and get involved.

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