February 20, 2016, by International students

How to cope with feelings of loneliness

Yes, it’s OK to feel lonely. It’s OK to feel isolated and distant from your current place. Everyone has been to the point where they felt like the world was against them and nothing seems to be in place. They can’t figure out what has happened and how it happened. They detach themselves from the people around them. They tried to distract themselves by learning new things and meeting new people but at the end of the day, they still felt lonely.

It is fairly normal for a student to feel this way. Many of us have left our family, friends, hometown and our dear country to be where we are now. Some of us are not used to being away from home. People would say that being a student is the best time of your life, the phase that you discovered yourself. But some students have felt that they could not make any friends (good and true friends) or struggled in achieving pass grades in their studies. And I am one of them.

First, let me explain the terms ‘lonely’ and ‘alone’. The state of loneliness is when you feel that you can’t even be happy with the presence of yourself. You feel defeated, low self-confidence and that you need a presence of someone to make you feel content. However, the term alone means being comfortable with the presence of yourself. We are often alone while waiting for the public transport, walking to lecture or before we go to bed. It is a normal situation but it means we need our space and does not mean loneliness.

After a while, I learn how to turn my loneliness to being comfortable with myself. It’s okay to feel lonely. Humans are not expected to feel accepted all the time – even we are selective in who we accept in our lives. There are points in our lives when we feel sad and maladaptive to the environment, but giving in to the feeling of loneliness in a long run is unhealthy. It took a long time for me to learn to love myself to reach the point where I feel comfortable when I am alone. Here are the following steps that helped me and I hope to help you, abolish loneliness:

  1. Understand the cause of your loneliness

Are you feeling lonely because you are home sick? Is it because there are personal problems in your life that you think will never resolved? Do you suffer from low self-esteem? Think about the cause of your loneliness and repeatedly tell yourself “I can overcome this and I am in control to change this”.

  1. Do an act(s) of kindness

Uni Park

Fight your sadness of being lonely by giving back to someone. Give your smile to someone and see them smiling back at you. Open the door for a stranger. If you’re driving, give way to the other person/car. If you want to go a step further, why not join a volunteer activity. The act of doing good to someone has been proven to making you feel better about yourself. Eventually, the kindness will overcome the loneliness.

  1. Enjoy being alone


You need to be comfortable with the presence of yourself. While waiting for the bus or lectures, enjoy your “me time”. Take this opportunity to read a book, organize your tasks with a to do list, listen to feel-good music or simply attend to your random thoughts. Think about what you can do to improve yourself that makes you happy and productive.

  1. Stop worrying about what others think of you


You can’t please everyone. When you keep on thinking on how to impress someone, more socially acceptable, you will lose yourself in the process. Why not, show the best of yourself. Soon the right people in your life would turn up and love you for who you are. And your friendship will build itself automatically. Love yourself in a way that portrays you being a strong, independent and confident person that doesn’t need the assurance of others to feel good. Become unshakable, stand on your own feet whether it is with friends or alone.

I hope you now understand that loneliness is not permanent. Apply the steps and you will be on your way to a happier life and saying goodbye to loneliness. Good luck! 🙂

Eleena Ab Rahim, an international student studying MSc Psychology (Conversion) at The University of Nottingham.


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