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Feeling lonely at University

by Shreya – 2nd Jan 2024

Packing my bags and moving to university to live on my own has been one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever had by far. It was both exciting and terrifying. From living on my own to having a bit more independence, I was so excited to get started. However, moving four hours away from home meant I had a lot of time to think and wonder what my university experience would be like, and this also allowed me to worry and spiral. I was concerned about not finding any friends, the workload, and not being able to live on my own. But I had to remind myself that these thoughts were normal.

After a long journey, we finally reached our destination and began to unload all my stuff into my new home for the next year. I also met a few of my flatmates, which put me at ease. I got along with them almost straight away, which was reassuring. Eventually, we unpacked everything, and my parents left to check into their hotel. It was at this point, sitting on my bed, that it all started to sink in. I would be living here on my own, without my best friends, knowing absolutely no one. It’s fair to say that it freaked me out.

That first night was one of the hardest as feelings of loneliness and fear began to creep towards me. What if I don’t make any friends? What if no one likes me? These thoughts crowded my brain for a long time, but what made it easier was attending social events set up by my university and speaking to as many people as I could. I said hi to anyone and everyone I possibly could, and the comforting thought was that everyone was in the same boat. Everyone moved to university and wanted to make friends, and that idea helped.

Alongside this, speaking to my friends and family about how I felt massively helped. They made me feel like I wasn’t alone, and that made me feel a lot better.

Loneliness can take a toll on mental health, leading to feelings of anxiety, depression, and a sense of worthlessness. It can also affect academic performance, as you may lose motivation and find it difficult to concentrate. Recognising the impact of loneliness on mental well-being is extremely important as it allows you to take steps to manage these feelings.

My top tips for dealing with loneliness:

  • Reach out for support: Don’t be afraid to initiate conversations with classmates, flatmates, or people in your accommodation. Attend social events and join clubs or organizations that align with your interests. Building connections takes time, so be patient and persistent.
  • Use your universities resources: Most universities offer counselling services that provide a safe space for students to discuss their feelings. Seek help from mental health professionals who can offer guidance and support tailored to your individual needs.
  • Stay active: Physical activity has been shown to positively impact mental health. Join a sports team, attend fitness classes, or simply take a walk around campus. Exercise not only improves mood but also provides opportunities to meet new people.
  • Embrace technology: In the digital age, staying connected has never been easier. Use social media to connect with friends and family, schedule regular video calls, or join online communities related to your interests. Virtual connections can be just as meaningful as in-person ones.
  • Practice self-compassion: Understand that feelings of loneliness are common, and you are not alone in experiencing them. Be kind to yourself and focus on personal growth. Engage in activities that bring you joy and cultivate a positive self-image.
  • Establish a routine: Creating a daily routine can provide structure and a sense of purpose. Attend classes regularly, set aside dedicated study time, and allocate moments for relaxation and socialization. Consistency can contribute to a more stable emotional state.

Feeling lonely at university is a shared experience for many people, but it’s essential to recognise that it is temporary and manageable. By proactively seeking support, fostering connections, and prioritising mental well-being, you can navigate the challenges of loneliness and come out stronger, both academically and personally. Remember, you are not alone, and there is a wealth of resources available to help you on your journey.

Read Ellie’s blog on moving away for Uni 

More on University support if you’re studying in Leeds

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