Above is the Oxford dictionary’s definition of loneliness. People’s understanding of loneliness usually includes all of the elements in this definition. The truth is that if any of those elements is present, a person can find themselves feeling awfully unhappy.
Any of the following typical uni experiences can make us feel lonely:
When getting ready for life at university, you were bombarded with advice, checklists and tools to help you plan. For things you couldn’t plan for, you were told to serve up some good old-fashioned resilience. While resilience can help you cope, it needs to be accompanied by solutions.
While it’s important to learn that hard times pass, it’s also crucial to acknowledge that that no one deserves to be lonely. None of us could really plan for loneliness, yet 46% of students are finding themselves feeling lonely at university.
We can be tough and put up with loneliness, but we also need to start looking out for those welcoming people who will include us. My experience is that when we start looking, we notice they were already trying to get us to join in.
Who you mix with and how often you do so will always be up to you. Some of us are lone wolves and like lots of alone time, but we all get lonely sometimes! If you do feel lonely, when you’re ready to address this, then remember that lasting changes come in individual small steps. If you need someone to talk to, see our Getting Help options below and when you’re ready, look for solutions in the guide we’ve prepared.
We’ve put together this guide of people-loving-people that you can join in with if you’re finding yourself in a lonely place. You can try as many or few things as you like and be as committed or casual about your involvement as you want.
Some of you might find that you’ve been suffering with loneliness for so long that it has caused you anxiety or depression and you’re now struggling to cope. This is completely normal and one of the most common reasons people get help from the counselling team at uni.
The university’s Wellbeing team offers a range of services and resources that we encourage you to make the most of.
Mind has some great resources with very useful tips and links.
Finally, I want to make a plea to all students to use the festive spirit to get into the habit of looking out for one another. We shouldn’t shy away from talking to students we don’t know at the bus stop or in a lecture or from inviting new people along to events and activities. Don’t give up just because someone declined an invitation in the past or wasn’t very talkative. Some of us take a bit more time to come out our shells, but when we do, who knows what we could bring to your life!
With 20% of students meeting the ‘loves of their life’ at uni, there’s plenty of motivation to expand your network. Ask a person in the queue how they are today, invite a class-mate for a coffee or ask someone sat alone if you can sit next to them in a lecture.
Finally, with Christmas coming up, look out for people who might have to stay behind during the holidays and stay in touch with them.
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