Feeling Alone as a College Student? It’s Not Just You
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Have you ever felt lonely in a room full of people? It’s not uncommon, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar environment. Starting college can be an exciting time to meet new people and experience new things, but this drastic change in your surroundings and daily routine can easily lead to you feeling isolated and alone. In one study, 45% of college students experienced feelings of chronic loneliness. It takes time to build meaningful relationships with new people, so the beginning of college especially can feel lonely.

Occasionally feeling lonely isn’t unusual for most people, but if you consistently feel like your emotional or social needs aren’t being met due to a lack of trusted relationships, you might be experiencing emotional loneliness. This loneliness can occur because you feel like you don’t fit in or that you’re disconnected from the people around you. Sometimes, those feelings of loneliness can increase your stress and contribute to increased feelings of depression, anxiety or other mental health disorders. Loneliness is nothing to be ashamed of; learning how to deal with it effectively can help you live a more balanced life.

How therapy can help you feel less alone

If your loneliness is causing you emotional distress, it may be time to seek outside help. A mental health professional can help you not only deal with your feelings of loneliness in a constructive way, but also learn how to seek out those meaningful relationships you need. Here are a few ways mental health treatment can help you deal with feeling alone:

  • Talk it out — Psychotherapy or other mental health treatment options aren’t a replacement for meaningful friendships in day-to-day life. However, therapy does offer you a place to speak to and be heard by a licensed clinical professional. Talking with your therapist can help you express your feelings of loneliness out loud and help you validate those feelings.
  • Get to the root of your loneliness — Loneliness is a very personal issue and can look different for different people. Your therapist can help you determine what may be increasing your feelings of loneliness, such as feeling like you don’t have anyone to confide in or having fewer meaningful friendships than you did in high school. Understanding why you’re lonely can help you address that feeling and take action to fill absences in your personal relationships.
  • Learn tools to combat loneliness — Therapy is a great place to discover actionable ways to address your loneliness. Your therapist can help you identify the negative thinking patterns and social isolation that can lead to loneliness. Things like acknowledging your feelings of loneliness, working on your communication and focusing on improving your social connections are all ways to combat loneliness. These tools can be utilized outside of therapy to help you cope better in your daily life and create meaningful relationships with the people around you.

Your therapist can’t fix your loneliness for you, but they can help you address your needs and learn how to deal with your loneliness in a healthy and positive way. You can learn how to acknowledge your feelings of loneliness, identify any negative thought patterns that may keep you from seeking out relationships, and start making intentional decisions to reach out for the social connections you crave.

How to combat loneliness 

If you can’t start working with a mental health professional yet, there are things you can do on your own to feel less lonely. Here are some tips that may help you when you feel alone:

  • Seek out connection — Meaningful relationships take time to build, but they often begin with a small step. Try asking a classmate to have coffee and study together, or check to see if there are any clubs that have to do with your major or another interest. If you have something in common with the people you’re trying to connect with, it gives you a great way to start a conversation.
  • Get creative — Creativity is a great outlet to express your feelings. Art, writing and music are all wonderful ways to help you visualize how you’re feeling. Expressing yourself can help you acknowledge your loneliness and feel more connected with yourself and your feelings, which can help reduce negative thoughts around those feelings of loneliness. It can also reduce the stress hormone cortisol and increase feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin. 
  • Be mindful on social media — Social media can be a great avenue for connection, but it can also exacerbate feelings of loneliness. Instead of just scrolling, try to make connections with online communities that share your interests and participate in those groups. You can also try taking a break from social media to make some real-world connections, such as joining an on-campus community or attending a local event. 
  • Stay active — Exercise can help you in more ways than one. Studies have shown that group activities such as exercise classes or sports can help improve your physical well-being and decrease feelings of loneliness. Consider trying a group class at your local gym or joining in on a game of Frisbee on the lawn. You can increase your endorphins and might make a new friend, too.

These tools are all good ways to get you to connect with yourself and others. While these tools may be helpful, professional help may be your best option if you’re dealing with long-lasting feelings of loneliness. At Lightfully, our licensed clinical experts want to help you address your loneliness and develop coping skills to deal with those feelings. When you’re ready to take that first step, we’re here to help. Reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team to see how Lightfully U can help you combat loneliness. Together, we’ll figure out the right path toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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