How to deal with feeling lonely

Loneliness among students is hardly visible , which might give the impression that students don’t experience loneliness. . In the Netherlands, however, the Central Bureau for Statistics’ Social Cohesion & Welfare survey showed that no less than 9% of people in the age category 15-25 years are very lonely, and that 25% of them report being somewhat lonely. It really isn’t surprising that loneliness is also a problem that students are dealing with. As a student, chances are that you’ve moved away from home – maybe even moved to a different country – in order to study. In many cases, you will have left behind friends and family. And although you will find yourself surrounded by many other students, it isn’t always easy to make new contacts (especially now with the restrictive measures surrounding the corona virus).

Loneliness functions as an internal alarm

Don’t worry if you’re feeling lonely every now and then. Feeling lonely is normal, as long as it’s a temporary feeling. Being a social animal species is in our DNA. From an evolutionary point of view, belonging to a group had significant advantages: people who feel the need to be accepted and involved have historically had a greater chance of survival. Evolutionary psychology therefore argues that this has resulted in practically everyone feeling this need today. Because our need for having social contact is so fundamental, we experience negative emotions when we feel lonely. Therefore, you could consider your feelings of loneliness as an internal alarm pointing out the importance of having meaningful contact with others.

Types of loneliness

When talking about loneliness, we often immediately think of loneliness concerning social interaction – the current social network being inadequate and social needs not being satisfied. But even having a (large) social network can leave you feeling lonely. Most of the time this occurs when the (many) contacts you have don’t meet the need of having a meaningful connection. This also means that being part of a student association or sports club does not automatically protect you from feeling lonely.

It’s like the chicken and the egg?

Feeling lonely for a long period of time will lead to you feeling worse by the day. Or perhaps you experience it the other way around: you already feeling bad about yourself and therefore withdrawing yourself from your social network and becoming lonelier. Feeling bad about yourself and feeling lonely are feelings that reinforce one another. Knowing which of these causes the other is irrelevant. Have you been feeling lonely for a long period of time and is it causing you problems? Then it’s time to take action. As student coaches, we are more than willing to help! We can help you come out of that downward spiral and help strengthen the qualities you already possess to move forward. Every journey starts with a first step, and before you know it you’re running.

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