Feeling Lonely in College
By Kelly Burch
Building a new social life in college can be harder than you may expect. First-year students usually find themselves surrounded by hundreds—or even thousands—of other people their age, but nearly two out of three college students say they’ve felt very lonely during the past year.
It can feel like everyone else has it all figured out and you are the only one struggling, but most students experience at least some awkwardness building their new social life when they go to college. There’s nothing weird or wrong about feeling unsettled or lonely in the first few weeks or months at school. It’s actually perfectly normal.
Here’s what may help when those feelings of loneliness strike.
Name Your Feelings
Research suggests there’s power in putting a name to the emotion you’re experiencing. If you’re able to turn things around from “what’s wrong with me today?” to “I’m feeling lonely today,” you may be able to better manage the feeling. Practicing that kind of emotional awareness can help you make choices about effective ways to deal with it.
Feelings of loneliness can grow when you’re holed up in your room, so gently push yourself to get outside. You can try taking a walk, napping on the quad, or going for a bike ride.
Research suggests that being in green spaces—even in a city—may reduce feelings of loneliness. In general, spending time in nature may have a positive impact on social interactions and help you feel happier, which can help ease loneliness.
Taking a moment to acknowledge the people and things you’re grateful for can have a positive impact on your emotions and social relationships. Practicing gratitude can even be a form of self-care because it boosts your sense of overall well-being. Here’s how to get started.
Build Yourself Up
Sometimes loneliness feels like a failure or rejection from other people. Remind yourself why you’re so wonderful. Remember you deserve rich, loving relationships, and that the closest friendships can take time to develop. If you put yourself out there in ways that are meaningful to you and make you feel good about yourself, friendship usually finds you.
Join an Activity
Join a new club on campus, introduce yourself to a classmate, or volunteer for an organization you care about. All of these things may feel awkward at first—and that’s OK—but eventually, they can lead to the connections you’re craving.
Call Your Friends or Family
When you’re feeling lonely on campus, a quick call with your friends or family back home can perk you up. Be honest with them about how you’re doing. They’ve probably felt the same before, and they would understand.
If you want to reach out to someone right now you can text home to 741-741 for a confidential conversation with a trained counselor any time of day