How I dealt with loneliness and anxiety at university
Up until I started university I have never really felt lonely or overly-anxious to a point where I would begin to worry that my mental health was suffering. However, moving to a new city without my family and friends was a huge change which took me half a year to get used to. In the beginning I struggled with feeling really lonely and towards the end I began to feel overly-anxious about situations. In the middle I had the time of my life so I suppose the whole experience balances itself out but I wish I had known what I do now when I started.
These are the things that have helped me to cope with loneliness and anxiety at university:
Join the gym
Even if you do not plan to be the most athletic person when you get there, it has been such a form of escape for me. I have a really light course where there are often lots of days off and if I spend too many of them not doing anything I end up feeling very restless and unable to sleep. Going to the gym gives me a reason to leave the house. It makes me feel as though I have accomplished something. As a student money can be tight but you can get a monthly membership for about £15 which will work out cheaper than a lot of other hobbies, I imagine. The exercise itself releases serotonin and endorphins to make you feel happier.
Work in the library
When you have lots of work to do it can be easy to just stay at home in order to get it done. But staying in can lead you to feel restless if you do it too often or for too long. I find it helpful to walk to the library so I have gotten some fresh air and exercise on the way to getting some work done. For me I am more productive in the library because I don’t get tempted by distractions like Netflix or my bed! I also find it helpful to be around others who are working hard and this can give you a feeling of being around people and socialising more. It can be even better to go to the library with house mates or course friends to have short breaks where you can chat but ultimately still get work done as you are in a work environment.
Try out a society
Every university has loads of different societies to choose from. Whether you want an active or relaxed one you could choose from hockey to baking. Just choose something you enjoy and will look forward to. It gives you a reason to get out of the house and do something productive. You will also meet people with similar interests to you and might make some good friends out of it. Remember if you do not enjoy it you can always try another one or stop, there really is no reason not to try one to begin with at least.
Get a part time job
You may already have one but if not it can be really easy to get one. Your university most likely hires students for part time jobs. The pay is often really good and they are aware of your situation so are often super flexible about hours. Additionally, most of the jobs the university offer are mainly for term time so won’t get in the way of your holidays if you are wanting to return home. Having set times where you will have work helps to make you more efficient in the time you have free, encouraging you to work more productively.
Make exciting plans
With a long onslaught of work, it can be easy to become buried in it and start to feel stressed and down thinking about the long period of time you need to work really hard for. I find that planning to get a reasonable amount of work done during the week helps me to feel as though everything is under control. You must have time off though so set plans to look forward to. I reward myself with a Netflix episode and maybe a chocolatey treat on an evening for after I have spent the day working hard. I also mark weekends off as time to visit friends and family. Short day trips to new cities can be really exciting and help you to have a real break from your work.
Have dinner or watch a film with friends each evening
In our house we have started to meal plan and each be responsible for cooking on different nights of the week. This adds variety to meals and helps to ensure you’re eating a freshly cooked meal each evening. We eat together so have that social interaction every evening without fail even if everyone has lots of work, we still eat dinner together. If you have accomplished all the work you need to do for the day, it’s nice to watch a film as a group to unwind.