Loneliness or feeling socially isolated isn't necessarily just feeling like you don't have any friends. A recent report by Wonkhe (experts in Higher Education) showed that out of the 1,615 students they surveyed, over 15% of students feel lonely on a daily basis and the figures are worse for disabled, BME, international students and students who live at home.* So, what might make you feel lonely?
Ok, you’re the first one from your immediate family to get into uni — everyone is super happy for you. Then you get settled in, and the reality of hard work and living away from home creeps up on you. You might have lots of family to call upon when you’re struggling, but when they haven’t been in your position it’s kind of hard for them to relate. The answer? It’s alright to chat to other people about it. Your family might be amazing for giving advice on money or how to cook a proper meal — but it might be helpful to look for a listening ear about specific uni problems from somewhere else. Try our Advice centre or a friend first, then give your family a call to ask what that funny smell coming from the cooker is.
It might feel like a tricky situation when you’re seen as the party pooper just because you don’t drink alcohol. Actually, by being teetotal means you’ll save loads of money and your time at uni won’t be wasted on the sofa with a hangover. If you find yourself feeling left out or uncomfortable around people on nights out who are drinking, why not consider joining a society? You’ll be able to meet like-minded people and it’ll open you up to lots of non-drinking based events and activities.
Last year, 198 students went to the library on Christmas day. So, if you’re staying in Manchester over the festive period — you’re not the only one. If you find yourself at a loose end on Christmas Day, head over to The Union from 12:00 to catch a Christmas film, do some crafting, play a few board games and enjoy a free Christmas dinner. There’s also loads of great things going on in Manchester at this time of year too which won’t break the bank. Why not try a solo cinema trip, browse the Christmas markets or join a weird and wonderful free walking tour?
The Union realises that everyone has times when they feel lonely, and it’s time something was done about it. Education Officer, Lucy, says “We can’t categorise people as ‘lonely’ and ‘not-lonely’. Loneliness is an emotion like any other and emotions come and go depending on what’s going on for you right now. It’s completely normal and it affects all of us at some point. I feel lonely quite a lot – I miss times when I had my closest people around me, without them I feel there’s holes in me that need filling and sometimes that makes small problems feel huge. I think there’s a pressure as well to look like you’re always having the time of your life — especially at uni, but that’s just not the case, and that’s okay. I think it’s so important to talk about feeling lonely, because it’s a force that works against us. So many people drop out of subjects they’re amazing at, leave cities that they love and put up with friendships with toxic people, just because they’re feeling lonely. Loneliness holds people back, and therefore it’s a political issue. It’s time we started commenting on the world and why it leaves people isolated and stop blaming ourselves.”
*Based on the Wonkhe report: Only the lonely – loneliness, student activities and mental wellbeing at university.