The cost of combatting loneliness – how to stay connected on a budget
The Student Advice Service supports Mental Health Awareness Week and we’d like to share some practical and accessible ideas to help you connect with others without blowing the budget.
Talking can be a really good way of building positive relationships with others. Life can get hectic and you may feel like the people around you are too busy to talk, but you may be pleasantly surprised once you take the first step and reach out to them. Whether it’s knocking on your housemate’s door, picking up the phone or sending a message on social media, you may find that they’re feeling the same way as you and you reaching out to them has made all the difference to you both.
It may sound silly, but just saying “hello” to the postman or your neighbour on the way out the door can have a positive impact on how you feel about yourself, or just start with talking to yourself in the mirror – it may feel a bit odd to start with but it can be surprisingly effective!
You may not live close to family and loved ones, but fitting in a weekly chat by phone or online can really help to give you a boost. Sharing how you are feeling (the good and the bad) with the people who care about you, can really help clear some headspace and it’s often helpful to hear another person’s perspective on things.
You can also reach out to your Student Support and Guidance Tutor (SSGT), who is here to support you with any issues that might be impacting your studies or overall wellbeing.
If you feel like loneliness is affecting your mental and physical health, it may be a good idea to seek some professional support. Talking therapies, like Counselling allow you to explore and understand your feelings and help you develop positive ways of dealing with them. You can access Counselling by registering with the university Wellbeing Service or making an appointment with your GP.
Connect with likeminded people
It can be a lot easier to connect with others if you have common interests or shared experiences. Whether you’re a board game fanatic, a film buff, or have a passion for baking, there’s bound to be people not too far away that are into the same thing.
There are over 100 clubs and societies at Brighton Students’ Union, why not take a look to see if there’s anything of interest to you, or you could even start your own.
Platforms such as Meetup are another great way of finding local community groups and events to get involved in.
There are also online communities that you can connect with to talk about issues such as mental health and gain support from people who are going through the same kinds of challenges as you are. Side by Side is a 24 hour, online community set up by the charity Mind to provide a safe space for people to share their thoughts and experiences, offer and receive support, and get to know new people.
Try something new
If you’re not sure what you’d like to get involved in, why not try something new – take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. If it feels too daunting to put yourself out there and sign up for a class or workshop straight away, why not start with something smaller – take on a DIY project at home for example – watch some Youtube videos or borrow a book from the library and upcycle a piece of furniture with your housemates (as long as it belongs to you and not your landlord), or perfect some signature meals from cheap online recipes and build up to inviting friends round to sample them.
If you’re able to, volunteering is a great way to learn new skills, whilst connecting with other people and the local community. Acts of kindness are often linked to increased feelings of wellbeing and more positive mental health. Just remember that if something isn’t working for you, or doesn’t feel possible right now, you can always try something else, or come back to it another time.
Look after yourself
Combatting loneliness isn’t just about interacting with other people, it’s just as important to look after yourself and prioritise hobbies or activities that make you feel good and promote a more positive outlook – whether that’s something creative, immersing yourself in a good book, listening to music or podcasts, or going for a run.
Research has shown that people who exercise regularly not only have better physical health, but also better mental health and emotional wellbeing, with exercise helping (amongst many other things) to increase self-esteem.
Try to get out of the house every day, even just for a half an hour walk. There’s loads of great outdoor spaces around Brighton and Hove to exercise alone or meet up with friends, or you can connect with one of our student bloggers for great tips about getting out and about on the east side.
Sports teams are another way to keep yourself fit and a good option if you are keen to expand your social network. There are lots of clubs to choose from at the University, all run and organised by the student community, but if you don’t see anything you’re interested in, why not start your own meet-up, set up a 5 a-side league in your Halls of Residence or a kick around in your local park.
There’s also a huge variety of online workouts available on platforms like YouTube, and the NHS have launched an online suite of exercise videos – from Strength and Fitness classes, Yoga and Pilates, through to Belly Dancing for Beginners, so there really is something for everyone.
Practicing mindfulness is another great way to clear some headspace, help to enhance self awareness, reduce stress and boost overall well-being.
When you wake up in the morning, rather than reaching straight for your phone, take a moment to stretch and breath and enjoy the silence before the chaos of the day takes over. If you want to take it a step further, why not start your day with some meditation or yoga. There are some great online yoga classes, and apps like Headspace or Calm that can help guide you if you’re unsure. You could get together with friends to share you practices, or if your budget allows sign yourself up to some in-person classes at your local gym or sports centre.
Talk to us about your money worries
Here in the Student Advice Service we’re very familiar with the negative impacts money issues can have on mental health, and vice versa. Struggling with your finances can often make you feel overwhelmed, or cut off from your peers. If this sounds familiar, please get in touch with us to have a chat about your circumstances and we’ll try our best to support you. You can call us Monday – Friday (excluding Wednesday) between 9am – 5pm on 01273 642888 or email email@example.com
Student Advice Service