Loneliness can be tough...
You are far from the only student who dabble in loneliness. In fact, one out of three students miss someone to be with sometimes. During the Covid-19 pandemic the feeling of being lonely has increased even more. Research also suggests that loneliness leads to more symptoms of depression.
Loneliness is in other words not just a bummer in itself, it can also have consequences for your health.
…but you can do something about it
Taking social initiative can be both awkward and difficult. Often it is our self confidence that holds us back. But it is important, and it works. What if you turn the gloomy statistics to your advantage? If more or less half of the students miss more social contact, the chances for a positive respons should be high for the one who actually takes the initiative!
Here are our tips:
1. Dare to be visible – look up social arenas
The pandemic requires that we act and think differently, but it is possible to hang out together while sticking to the infection protection rules.
There are lots of associations for students, and all of them want you as a member! By joining a student association you automatically get included in a social group. It’s a great platform for building friendships.
What kind of unorganized activities for small groups can you think of? Cook a nice dinner with your flatmates, invite fellow students to go hiking, have a coffee between lectures, ask around if there are others who enjoy knitting or gaming. You can contact the student hosts to find exisiting student associations, or get help to start up something new.
Also, remember to take care of the relations you have, as far as possible. Call home, or call an old friend every once in a while.
2. Lower your expectations to yourself – you don’t have to be great at everything
If you don’t do or plan what you «should» do, you may see yourself as a failure and a loser. Or if you don’t get the grades you «should» have, or don’t go to the gym as often as you «should».
Adjust your efforts according to what you like to do, not what looks best in social media.
3. Reveal «thought errors»
You can turn thoughts around. Remember, they are just thoughts, not reality. Start by identifying the thought errors. Do you recognize any of these?
- «If only I was more fit, everything would be fine».
WRONG! This is selective attention. Don’t let one negative detail get all of your attention.
- «If I don’t perform well on the exam I am a complete failure.»
WRONG! This is black and white thinking. Life is not either/or, all or nothing.
- «He didn’t want to date me, so I will never get a boyfriend».
WRONG! This is generalization. Don’t draw a general conclusion based on one singular incident.
- «I was not invited to the party, so there must be something wrong with me.»
WRONG! This is personalization. Don’t take incidents you cannot control personally.
- «If I fail the exam I will never ever get a job.»
WRONG! This is catastrophic thinking. Don’t let one small worry become a major problem.
4. Don’t try to have the perfect leisure time
There is not a perfect way to spend your weekend. Consider what you want to do, and what’s good enough for you. Don’t compare yourself with «the popular ones». Remember, what matters is what YOU thing about yourself.
5. Dare to say how you are really doing
It is easy to pretend that everything is okay out of fear of being viewed as weird or different. But by pretending we only create a distance to other people.
Try: «I have noone to hang out with in the weekend. Can I join you to the student pub on Friday?» When we dare to be vulnerable, we also get closer to others.
If you want to start in a safer environment you can contact a «Peer supporter» for a good and confidential chat with a fellow student (Bodø), a student counsellor in Studentinord, or house contact / house committee at your student home.
6. Practice gratitude
To feel okay you must be able to be present in the moment. To get there it is important to switch focus from what you don’t have to what you do have.
Try this exercise: Write down three things every night that you are greatful for. It can be something completely ordinary that you usually take for granted but you are happy to have, and that is valuable to you.
Poulsen, Carina og Egeland, Rebekka T: «Psykologens ti råd mot ensomhet»
Brekkhus, Mona, von Soest, Tilman og Fredriksen, Eivor: Psykisk helse hos ungdom under Covid-19 - Ensomhet, venner og sosiale medier