As this university year comes to an end, there’s probably a pretty big mix of feelings going on. For some of us, this is the end of a chapter – the degree is over and we’ve got to go out into the big wide world. For others, we’ll be returning in just a short few months. Both of these positions mean some quite abrupt changes. Either way, we’ve got to pack up and go home for at least a month or two, leaving the people we’ve lived with for a year (or more in some cases) and that often means being removed from the support system we’ve developed. Those support systems have probably been relied upon even more so than usual in the last year. So, uprooting and going home might be a bit scarier now than ever.
Our environment absolutely affects our minds, there’s no denying that. There can be a pretty even split between home comforts being either at uni or home, and even if you’re perfectly happy in both, the abrupt change in environment can have an equally upsetting affect. That is completely normal. I promise. As it’s the end of the academic year too, you might be a little burnt out after exam season – we’ve all done all-nighters, had the anxiety, and drank a little too much coffee to power through. So what I’m saying is that these environment changes, post-exam recoup, and uncertainty about the future can all (completely justifiably) contribute to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Feeling a little more alone than normal can affect a lot of physical parts of our lives too.
Feeling perhaps more alone than normal can affect a lot of physical parts of our lives too – feeling that little bit lower, can make the simple things seem that little bit harder, including cleaning, cooking and eating.
So, what I wanted to cover here are some little things you can try and tackle to make those underlying feelings of loneliness or isolation a little easier to deal with, by making the area around you as comfortable as possible and also tackling the mindset itself.
One thing at a time
We can get ourselves into a bit of a mess sometimes. Try and take everything bit by bit when you go home. Take a little task one day at a time, you really don’t have to make it all better right away. Unpack one day. Visit a supermarket another. Tackle half of the mess in your bedroom the next. Honestly, those small things will add up, and before you know it life back in your family home, or in your new student accommodation, or your new graduate home will start to feel familiar - and being familiar in your environment might help to squash any feelings of being an outsider.
Next, comfort is key. It sounds really cliché – but if you’ve got a comfort film, put it on. Light a candle – honestly, I fully have convinced myself that I have my life together if there’s a candle lit in my room.
Have a think about what your home comforts are and immerse yourself in them; whether that’s a book, music, films, candles, bubble baths etc, let yourself feel nice and cosy. Speaking of books, I’ve started using Goodreads and keeping up with what my friends are reading as a way to get back into it – 3 years of the law degree really does put you off reading for fun for a while – so would 100% recommend getting involved with that if you can! In the absence of housemates or uni friends, this is yet another way that you can build a digital community.
Then, if you’re able, get outside. I bang on about this in most blogs, but in this one let’s put a spin on returning home. Things might have changed a bit, or be a bit different to where you’ve live previously, so what you can do in the community might be slightly different than before.
A great start is to get into those Facebook Community chats or pages – they’re a fab way to get back up to speed with some of the stuff going on in the area.
Another thing to get stuck into might be a sport or activity that you liked before you left for uni – now that things are opening back up again you can head down to the football club(?); tennis court(?); riding stables(?) - whatever it is that keeps you sane. Again, I know I sound like a mum, but you will feel so much better for the fresh air, and you’re more likely to bump into new people or old friends by revisiting your nostalgic hobbies.
Lastly, get a routine going. Make yourself a plan one day with really small tasks on it (and I mean small). When we get into a rut, even the most simple of tasks can seem huge. So when I say small, I mean teeny tiny things that can be ticked off and give you a real sense of achievement for completing.
Routine also relates to sleep – definitely allow yourself a few days post exams to have lots of lie ins and rest time, before negotiating a new normal. Once you’re feeling rested, try to establish a sleep pattern. Having a regular sleep routine may help you to feel rested, more social, and creative.
It goes without saying that all of these feelings are a bit icky, and as much as these steps might ease it a bit, you might need some extra support. If so, please do reach out to the Student Advice Team on the contact details below. You can also find some more support here on loneliness, isolation and homesickness, or here for some mental health and wellbeing support too. As always, the Team are here to support you through whatever is on your plate right now – whether you’re in Cardiff or not, you’re still a Cardiff student and can access the support whenever you need it.
This blog has been written by Charlie Mallinson from the Student Advice Team in the Students’ Union. If you would like further help and support with the issues raised in this blog, or any aspect of your student experience, please get in touch using the following links:
Contact Student Advice
+44 (0)2920 781410