What can I do if I feel lonely?
Find out how we're working to tackle loneliness in Staffordshire University students at startotsuccess.co.uk.
Loneliness can be a common feeling, especially amongst students starting at University. You might not be sure of the best way to meet new people, you might be nervous about breaking the ice and starting a conversation with someone on your course or maybe you've tried to make an effort, but not clicked with anybody yet.
It's important to remember that whilst social media can give the impression that everyone is having a great time, people only tend to post when there's something positive to share - just think, all the time inbetween posts, that person could be feeling just like you.
Find what works for you
If you've ever played The Sims, you'll remember that part of the game is to make sure you fulfil the needs of your Sim so that they can get on with their day.
One of the needs you need to fulfil is "social", so if your Sim doesn't speak to any other Sims (or in later versions of the game, their pets or plants) for a couple of days, you'll find it more difficult to get them to do things like cleaning or studying for their career.
The same sort of thing applies to you. If you feel lonely for a long period of time you might find it more difficult to do certain things because you've lost confidence or find it difficult to concentrate on things you need to do because you're focusing too much on how you're feeling.
What might build up your "social" bar could be completely different to someone else. So remember that there's no right or wrong way to prevent loneliness, the most important thing is to do what makes you feel better.
Start thinking about what you're most comfortable with... would you prefer to start a conversation online or in person? Would you feel okay jumping straight into a society taster session or would you like to just go along and watch for the first time? Is there somewhere you could go where there's people but you're not expected to interact or with more structured interactions first?
Once you've worked out what you're comfortable with and what you're most enthusastic for, research what there is to do.
There's loads of opportunities to meet people at University, even with blended learning, you will have the chance to socialise with other students in real life and online:
Some of these may be more successful for you than others so try a few things out.
Here are some suggestions from current students on how they coped with loneliness during lockdown:
Tuesday: "I wouldnt say mine are top tips, I'm not great at being social in person [...] My mum and I set a time for us to call each other, (6pm on Sundays) So that I can see her and my nan. Not that my mum has forgot to ring me 2 sundays in a row haha!
I know some people regularly hold quiz nights on discord/zoom and they love it! I've also taken a lot of the time I would've spent socialising as a chance to learn new skills, be creative or educate myself in areas I've taken an interest in."
Carter: "Regularly video calling friends and family - set nights for game nights and stuff"
Emily (Pokemon Society): "Watching lots of anime and playing games online with friends, kept me good during lockdown."
Jamie: "Runescape. No joke.
The reason being, you're constantly doing something so you forget about the isolation and the rewards that come from it will promote the secretion of dopamine in the brain - the reward chemical. You can normally also find a decent amount of people to talk to which kills hours. The baseline idea is just find something that you can do that keeps you busy."
Make a list
If you find you're missing some of the opportunties during the first couple of weeks of term, try not to worry, there's still time to get involved. Try writing down some of the things you're worried about when it comes to meeting new people with an additional BUT that puts a positive spin on your fears and anxieties.
Here's an example for someone worried about going along to a social:
- "The people there already know each other so me being there will be awkward... BUT I have been invited so they might be expecting me to come"
- "People might not like me... BUT I won't know if I could find someone that likes me if I don't go at all"
- "I might be too anxious to speak to anyone when I'm there... BUT I will have tried something new and could have a fun time anyway"
You could apply this to any social situation you're in.
An important reminder
Everyone truly is in the same boat when they start at University, and even returning students and staff will understand how you're feeling so don't be afraid to reach out and talk about it.
You might be suprised by the response you get.
How do you feel about starting University? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or have your say: