Tackling loneliness at University

15th April 2019
A lonely student sat in a university canteen.

Loneliness is a common occurrence that can affect anybody. A study by the Co-op and the British Red Cross found that over nine million people living in the UK are either always or often lonely.

There are many types of loneliness but they all share the same features. They make the sufferer feel upset, distracted and physically and mentally drained.

For university students, loneliness is a more regular occurrence with research showing that almost half of UK students (46%) admit to being lonely during their time at university. This figure shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Most students are leaving home for the first time only to be surrounded by strangers. Not to talk of international students in a brand new environment probably dealing with culture and language barriers or mature students feeling out of place among much younger students.  

All of this is to say, it’s only natural to feel lonely or isolated sometimes. This article suggests some ways to tackle loneliness so that you can enjoy what is meant to be ‘the best times of your life’.

5 tips for tackling loneliness

Whatever your reason for feeling lonely, it’s important to remember that it’s only temporary and that you’re not alone. Almost everyone feels lonely at some point in their life and it can be managed. Talking to people (friends, family or counsellors) can help drastically.

Other ways to manage loneliness include:

  1. Join a society

This opens you up to a new social network of people with similar interests. It could be anything from a running club to a debate society. Most times these societies will have social mixers where members can network with each other. Use this opportunity to meet new people and form lifelong bonds.

  1. Introduce yourself to people 

Something as simple as smiling or saying hello can make all the difference. Try it out with people you see every day – in your lecture halls or the stairway, in your halls or the gym. The best thing about living in student halls is that you’re surrounded by people, you just need to reach out and talk to them.

  1. Part-time jobs

As well as earning some extra pounds because god knows you need it! You’ll also be able to meet new people, work colleagues or customers. If you aren’t too bothered about the money part, you could also consider volunteer work.

  1. Exercise

Not including the physical benefits of joining a gym, there are also benefits to your mental health. It gives your brain a rest from overthinking and re-energises you. Plus, it’s another great place to meet new people!

  1. Talk to someone 

While loneliness is a common occurrence, in some cases it could lead some underlining mental health issues. To prevent this, consider talking to a friend or family member. A majority of universities in the UK provide counsellors that you could talk to about your mental health.

While loneliness isn’t something you can just turn off, there are ways to handle this emotion. If any of the suggestions above don’t work for you, you could also check out our student advice line through Heath Assured, offering emotional, psychological and practical help. Other support avenues available for students include Samaritans, Student minds, and Mind.