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How to Cope With Loneliness at University?

Photo: Ricky Mangala

"Loneliness has been described as, more than just the feeling of being alone, and wishing you had someone there. It is the experience of being alien, and unable to understand others", according to Professor Christensen Ryan.

Loneliness can be caused by a multitude of factors. It affects people in different ways. A certain amount of loneliness is almost inevitable in life. Often, people feel lonely, because of a change in their personal circumstances. Life by it's very nature entails encountering situations that might make one feel isolated or lonely. For example, the loss of a loved one, moving to a new place, bullying, heartbreak, financial difficulty, being a single parent, experiencing discrimination or stigma.

No one escapes the scourge of loneliness, at least for some stage of their lives. Fame or fortune doesn't preclude one from suffering from this near universal emotion. Stars such as Jennifer Lawrence, George Clooney, and Leona Lewis have confessed to feelings of loneliness, and social isolation. A certain amount of loneliness is normal, but when it is the consistent predominant emotion, this is a sign that it needs to be addressed. If it is left unchecked it can lead to anxiety, depression, or social phobia.

Starting University for any student can be quite daunting. On my first day, I remember the dreadful feeling of not knowing anyone. Thankfully it didn't take me long to make friends, being naturally extroverted. Being a social student is about breaking boundaries, reaching out to others and not being afraid. Here are a few tips to nip loneliness in the bud.

Reach out - Talk to someone

'A problem shared is a problem halved.' Talk to someone about any feeling or difficulties. You are not alone. There is plenty of support in your university . Support is available from the Student Union, Chaplain, and helplines.

Burst that bubble with positive thinking.

Loneliness can create an isolating vortex, and a person can become very introverted, or turn to addictions. Burst that bubble by focusing on the world around you. Fill your life with good positive things. Healthy eating, exercise, spend time with your friends, listen to music, read a book, go dancing, take up a new hobby.

Set realistic goals for your college year.

At the beginning of every year I like to set myself goals. Write out a list of things you would like to achieve within your first year of college. Reward yourself with something nice, as the goals are achieved. Retail therapy is my favourite treat!

Why not join a college society or charity ?

Meeting people that have similar interests can really bring one out of oneself.

Try volunteering at a charity to give you a new perspective. Getting involved with the college charity is highly rewarding, and helping others is the key to happiness. Write down all the positive things in your life, and put it somewhere you will see it everyday. Remember the kind deeds and words of others.

Believe in yourself.

Everyone on this planet is special and unique. Confidence gives you the power to conquer the world. The good news is that self-confidence really can be learned, built on, and it's well worth the effort.