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How to manage loneliness as a student
How to manage loneliness as a student

How to manage loneliness as a student

The rose-tinted view you have of uni may involve meeting like-minded people, having a rich social life and even making friends you’ll be close to 30 years from now. While that’s definitely all part of the experience, it’s also worth acknowledging head-on that there are times where you may feel lonely.

Loneliness is something we all experience at one time or another, and it’s perfectly natural. It can be challenging to deal with though, especially if it’s your first time being away from home and the family and friends you know and love.

What to do when you're feeling lonely

Developing ways to manage and cope with loneliness will mean you’re prepared for those times when you do feel lonely. Here are some top tips on how to combat loneliness as a student:

1. Start with hello

If you’re finding it hard to adjust and make friends, remember that many other people will be feeling the same way as you and will appreciate you reaching out (even if it feels scary!) as much as you’d appreciate it back. So, say hi to people before and after lectures, meet peers after class to plan group work, and spend time in shared living spaces with flatmates doing everyday activities like preparing a meal or watching TV. Hopefully, you’ll begin to build a rapport but if it takes longer for you, take your time and try not to catastrophise – check out our guide for introverts at uni for some more advice.

2. Connect online

Maybe you find it easier to forge connections in a virtual space before meeting face to face? If so, check out The Neighbourhood app, which allows you to connect with other residents in your Student Roost property from the comfort of your own room – that way, you can head down to the communal spaces to hang out after initially chatting online. Forums and online communities (e.g. gaming) are another good way to reach out to future friends virtually, but beware of spending too much time scrolling social media as FOMO may make you feel more isolated.

3. Look for opportunities

From joining a society formed around one of your biggest passions (whether that’s musical theatre or real-life Quidditch) to checking out what’s going on at your Students’ Union, keep an eye out on ways to keep busy and potentially form quality connections. At Student Roost, the combination of our generous social spaces and bustling events calendars mean you should always have options on the horizon.

4. Look for the positives

It’s important to recognise that being alone and feeling lonely aren’t always the same thing. You might revel in being alone and enjoy your own company, which is great. If you’re not quite that comfortable spending an evening alone with a good book or Netflix show, then try to look for the good in the situation. Shifting your perspective slightly might make you rest a little easier; just because you’re lonely this evening or this week doesn’t mean you’ll be lonely tomorrow or a week from now. And just because you spend one Saturday in your room, it doesn’t mean that will be every Saturday forevermore. Use it as a chance to catch up on some studying or try to enjoy the simple comforts of a duvet day.

5. Find a new hobby

Filling your time by learning a new skill or doing something you enjoy might make you forget you ever felt lonely in the first place. It might be something that lends itself to meeting new people, like picking up an instrument or baking goodies for your flatmates and neighbours. Or it might be more private and just for you: journaling, coding, even zoning out with Lego. If it’s something you enjoy and that brings you a sense of calm, then keep it up.

6. Reconnect with the familiar

If you’re feeling homesick, a phone call or Zoom quiz with your nearest and dearest might be just what you need to break a particular spell of loneliness. Words of encouragement from those who know you best can be a great tonic. Reaching out to your loved ones may have the knock-on effect of making you miss home even more, though, so try to balance reconnecting with your family or friends with positive affirmations and goals; for example, if you speak to a family member today, aim to chat to one other person at uni or in your accommodation tomorrow. Think of a time when you were lonely before, and then all the times you weren’t after it – it helps to frame your current situation, knowing that this period of loneliness will also pass.

7. Speak up

If you feel like nothing is working and you’re struggling to cope with your feelings of loneliness, then don’t stay silent. It may surprise you to know just how many of your peers are having similar feelings, but if you’re finding it difficult to open up to fellow students then reach out for support at university or in your accommodation. Remember that you can call the Samaritans for free, day or night, on 116 123 or you can text 'SHOUT' to 85258 for a free, confidential and anonymous text support service.

At Student Roost, our friendly teams are available 24/7 so you can start a conversation AM to PM, and we’ll be able to signpost you to relevant, tailored support. We also make a good brew, if a chat over a cuppa is what you need in the moment. We really do want you to feel at home with us, which means knowing we’re there when you need to talk. 

We're teaming up with BreatheUni founders Jeremy Lyons and Louise Lyons-Appiah on 19th May for an online Q&A session on topics related to mental health. If you're a current resident, check your emails for more info and keep an eye on socials for details too. In the meantime, don't forget to check out our 7 tips to boost your mental health.