Friday 24 February 2017

Coping with Loneliness at University

Lottie gives her top tips for those struggling with feelings of loneliness or homesickness during their studies.
- Lottie Thomas

Everyone becomes lonely or homesick at uni at least once, and most try to struggle through it because they think they are the only one. Coming back from a long break like Christmas can make returning to uni tough. So, here are my top tips for coping with those feelings of homesickness:

Start the day and take it one day at a time
When you wake up in the morning it can sometimes seem impossible to get out of bed and face the world, but the best thing you can do is just start the day. I used to find setting an alarm (not too early!) would really help me to do this. Getting up and jumping in the shower freshens up your mindset and washes away that groggy sleepy feeling. Teaching yourself to not think too far ahead and just focus on the day in hand is an important part of keeping those feelings at bay.

Treat yourself
Working yourself into the ground can make you feel even worse, so take time out of your studies to do something you really enjoy. Watch a film, bake a cake or just chill out and listen to some music. It’s really important to take the pressure off and allow yourself some time to yourself, or with friends. You deserve a reward for persevering when times are tough!
Tell people close to you
An important factor for me was telling my housemates how I was feeling. Although not everyone will feel comfortable doing this, it’s a good idea to tell someone just so you don’t feel like you’re suffering in silence. Once I told my housemates, they even shared the occasions that they struggled, and it made me feel less lonely. Just knowing that it’s on their radar is comforting, as you don’t have to explain why you might be quiet sometimes, and they might be able to help.

Allow yourself a bit of home
Buy your favourite food you only get at home or bring photographs to put up in your room. Don’t completely disconnect from home – it’s still where you spent most of your time before coming to uni. Get someone from home to send you something occasionally; my grandparents used to send me chocolate in the post sometimes which always put a smile on my face because I knew they were thinking about me.

Exercise/get outside
It is well known that exercise releases that concoction of endorphins or ‘happy hormones’, but sometimes a hard workout isn’t for everyone. I recommend getting outdoors in the fresh air and reminding yourself that the world holds so many possibilities. There’s adventure out there for everyone – you just have to find it.

Nothing lasts forever
It may not feel like it at the time but these feelings won’t last forever. Things are constantly changing, and as long as you keep this in mind you’ll be fine. If you find these feelings are continuing for long periods of time, and especially if you think they are affecting your studies, don’t hesitate to contact the support services at your university. It may be something else that’s more serious than homesickness, so letting someone know is very important. Universities know that many of their students are living away from home for the first time and are equipped to deal with people struggling.

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