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Loneliness, Isolation & Homesickness

Feeling lonely, isolated and/or homesick is very normal but can be a very painful experience. If you have moved away from home for the first time, it is natural to feel a kind of grief reaction for the loss of familiarity and comforts of home. If you were previously well settled in Cardiff, you may find that social distancing rules mean you cannot access groups you used to enjoy and/or that socialising in general is much more difficult. Those shielding, self-isolating or living alone may not talk to anyone in person for days or weeks at a time. Others may be surrounded by people but feel lonely because they don't feel a connection with them. Whatever the cause, if you are feeling lonely, isolated and/or homesick, there are things you can do to help yourself.

Traffic Light System

Students suffering with anxiety are prehaps more prone to feeling lonely and isolated as a result, and so we have created a traffic light system with a few suggestions of different levels of activity depending on your level of anxiety. You can use this temolate to create your own traffic list system.

Red
  • Do some yoga in your room.
  • Add people from your course on Facebook / Instagram and start a chat.
  • Get in touch with support services at Cardiff University
  • Engage in your favourite 'self-care' activity
  • Join the Socially Isolating Facebook group
Amber
  • Go on a walk of your surround area, (Accessibile Alternative - sit in your back garden or find a bench in a park)
  • Have socially distance cuppa
  • Listen to a podcast or music on a walk
  • Call a friend or family member
Green
  • Cook dinner with a flat mate
  • Call a firend or family member
  • Go to socially distanced / virtual sessions with a new Club / Society
  • Go for a socially distanced drink in a student bar / cafe (when restictions allow)

Look after yourself

The brain is a complex organ that is responsible for how we think, how we feel and how we act. Just like other organs in our body, it can be affected by our environment and behaviour. Feeling lonely, isolated and/or homesick can affect your appetite, your sleep and your motivation to cook, clean and get outside. Not eating or sleeping properly and not getting fresh air, exercise and natural light can make feelings of low mood and anxiety worse. You can try and avoid getting in to this cycle by:

  • Eating well. There has been a lot of research done on diet and its effect on mental health. See Mind, the mental health charity's video 8 tips on how food affects your mood;
  • Getting some exercise. This is one of the biggest lifestyle changes that we can all make to improve our mental and physical health. Exercise reduces depression and improves cognitive function. GPs can even prescribe exercise as a treatment for anxiety and depression.
  • Getting the right amount of sleep at the right time. The impact of sleep on health and wellbeing is well documented. In their report, Sleep Matters, The Mental Health foundation describe sleep as being as important to our health as eating, drinking and breathing. It allows our body to repair itself and our brain to consolidate our memories and process information. Poor sleep is linked to physical problems such as a weakened immune system and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
  • Getting outside. Getting outside and ideally into some form of a green space can benefit both your physical and mental wellbeing. Mind recommends spending time in nature to help with mental health problems including anxiety and depression

 

Make yourself a home

Decorating your room and personalising your space may not stop you from feeling lonely but it can be a great help in easing homesickness. It can also help to make your room feel more like a homely haven, rather than somewhere you feel trapped and isolated.

If your landlord allows it, put up posters and pictures and add some soft furnishings. Bring some of your favourite things from home if you can, anything that can make your surroundings feel more familiar and cosy.

Get involved with your Students' Union

Things are certainly very different at the moment but the Students' Union is working hard to make sure you can still make new connections and get involved in the student community.

  • Associations. The Campaign Officers also have Associations that they are part of. These are students from the same minority groups. Each Association is different, some are used to facilitate and arrange socials and events whereas others are seen to be more political and a sounding board for campaign ideas.
  • Athletic Union. The Athletic Union are the home of student sport at Cardiff University. They facilitate over 65 student-led sports clubs and offer 5000+ students the opportunity to represent Cardiff regionally, nationally and beyond.
  • Cardiff Volunteering. Cardiff Volunteering offers a wide variety of different and exciting projects to choose from which you can fit around your University schedule, as well as loads of one-off events and summer volunteering opportunities.
  • Cardiff Student Media. Student media is always on the look-out for new recruits. There's no typical member - those involved are from a very diverse range of backgrounds, studying everything from physics to philosophy, and as long as you've got passion and enthusiasm, you'll be welcomed aboard.
  • Give it a Go. Give it a Go’ is a Students' Union initiative which aims to showcase opportunities and taster sessions available from Clubs, Societies and Student Groups. It allows students to try a club or society for a one off cost, before they commit to membership. The vast majority of clubs and societies will run an introductory session and brand it as their 'Give it a Go'.
  • Jobshop. The Jobshop is a free student employment service which aims to find paid work for registered Cardiff University students.
  • Skills Development Service. The Skills Development Service (SDS) provides a range of training courses and sessions designed to build confidence, improve transferable skills and increase employability to learners interested in developing for their future after graduation with the added bonus of gaining certification.
  • Societies. Society memberships are available throughout the academic year so it's never too late to join any of our Societies. With over 200 Societies to choose from, there's something to suit everyone.
  • Student-Led Services. Student-Led Services are student groups that run similarly to societies and sports clubs, but have a specific purpose that they campaign for. SLSs are at the heart of the Students' Union in providing support for students with wellbeing needs. You can apply to join or get information and/or support from the Buddy Scheme, Mind your Head, Cardiff Student Minds, Housing Action, STASH, SHAG, Eat Well, Cardiff Nightline.
  • Student Voice. The Student Voice team work with Academic Reps and PGR Reps to ensure that the student voice is heard at every level of the university. You can be a Rep too, just get in touch with us at StudentReps@cardiff.ac.uk. You can also be involved in the decisions made by your Students' Union by becoming a student senator, a member of the scrutiny committee or part of the Officer's Executive Committee.Get in touch at Elections@cardiff.ac.uk to find out more.

Reach out to the University

If meeting new people in person feels too difficult at the moment, or there restrictions in place preventing you from doing so, you can take a look at some of the online support pages and communities you can join, such as the University’s multi-faith Chaplaincy and Browzer, the Residence Life Team’s platform aimed at building a sense of community for students in halls of residence. Of note, during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Chaplaincy are running weekly 'Walk and Talk' social activities with the chaplains and their dogs.

Keeping an online blog or sharing experiences on social media can be another way of making connections online. You can follow the Residence Life Team’s Instagram page too, which is full of tips and videos on a variety of topics.

The University will also be running the Wellbeing Champions programme this year, with opportunities to get involved and meet like-minded peers, as well as deliver valuable peer support to fellow students.

Open up

Talk to friends and family about how you are feeling. It can help to talk things through and work out ways of overcoming these feelings with somebody you know and trust. If you feel able to talk to a housemate or a friend at University, you’ll probably find that you’re not alone in how you are feeling; shared feelings and experiences can be a really effective way of connecting with others.

During times of restricted physical contact, be sure to utilise free to use online platforms such as Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp to contact friends and family. Consider trying to arrange regular online conversations among friendship groups or family and try something like organising a quiz to ensure that everyone is as engaged as possible and the time is well spent.

If you are looking for an online platform that can offer 24/7 support, in addition to being a friendly, social environment, you can download the TalkCampus app at any time. You will be connected to someone who you can talk to and the app will also give you access to a social network in which you can anonymously express how you’re feeling and receive support from fellow students.

Be present

When we feel lonely, we may spend more time thinking about the past and worrying about the future. This can leave us feeling low and anxious. Focusing on the present by bringing our attention to the here-and-now is an effective way of moving away from negative and unhelpful thoughts.

Practicing mindfulness can be a good way to focus on the present, though it may need some practice to work properly. You can view the University's pre-recorded Introduction to Mindfulness workshop on their Events page. If you are interested in mindfulness, you can visit the Mindfulness for Students website and/or download the Headspace App.

The University have also produced two videos to help you get started:

Mental Health

If loneliness, isolation and/or homesickness are affecting your mental health, you may need to consider getting some help. Further information is available on our Mental Health page.

Student Advice

Student Advice is a free, confidential and independent service available for students of Cardiff University. We are independent of the University and our role is to give you impartial advice and guidance and help you understand the options available to you.

If loneliness and/or homesickness are impacting your wellbeing and/or ability to study and perform at your usual level, we can

  • advise you on how to report Extenuating Circumstances to the University;
  • advise you on how to submit and Academic Appeal if you have missed the Extenuating Circumstances deadline, or you circumstances have been refused;
  • advise you on how to take an Interruption of Study and what you need to think about when deciding what to do;
  • signpost you to other support services.

Sources of Support

University Support Services: Intranet and SU Website Links

Student Led Services

Cardiff Based Support

Contact Student Advice

Advice@cardiff.ac.uk

+44 (0)2920 781410