Hello! One of our great Peer Educators, Melissa Newton, shares an article about how to approach loneliness, especially during Winter Quarter. Enjoy!
Winter quarter, in my experience, is by far the loneliest quarter. If people have to bundle up to go outside, they tend to avoid it compared to warmer months. The sun’s early descent in winter can make the low temperatures and feelings of isolation from others feel even worse.
I am an introvert, and so I rather like to re-energize in the solitude of my heated blanket, but this can make it extremely difficult to make any effort to see people. When this becomes a pattern for too long, I feel lonely, isolated, and depressed—even for the whole quarter! Often, this makes me cycle into feeling unmotivated to do schoolwork, causing more stress in my life along with even more sadness, and I may even spend a good chunk of time crying or thinking that my friends do not want to hang out with me.
Contrary to what movies may show about college life, this is common. Feeling lonely when surrounded by hundreds of peers of the same age sounds ridiculous, but it is far from unusual. So, what can students do to get through this winter quarter funk?
The most important advice I can give anyone who is also feeling this way is to become comfortable with yourself and enjoy your own company. If you can accomplish this, you will always be in the presence of someone who understands you and who cares about you.
Second, staying busy is another wonderful way to avoid feelings of loneliness and sadness. If schoolwork has little power to motivate you, busy yourself with something else too, such as a new interest. You could learn how to weld, take up a new sport, attend cooking classes, or learn an instrument. This can reduce stress, and may allow you to take the time you might normally spend watching Netflix or scrolling mindlessly through Facebook, and use that time instead for something fun and rewarding. There are so many options out there; all you have to do is find one you enjoy.
Lastly—and this for me is the most difficult part to follow—reach out to people when you need to. Ask someone you know to study with you at a coffee shop, call a friend from back home, chat with an Internet friend. Depending on the situation, reaching out to a therapist or counselor is also a great option. Seeing a therapist at CAPS has helped me immensely, and so I would encourage anyone looking for that extra support to reach out: 831-459-2628 or http://caps.ucsc.edu/
I hope my tips are useful, and I am sending love and wishing you a warm and happy winter quarter!
-By Melissa Newton