Tips against loneliness in times of corona

Tips against feelings of anger and depression, caused by corona

Lately I sometimes feel like crawling up the walls of my dorm room, some days I don’t feel like getting out of bed, I wish my plants could talk or I’m ready to toss my phone out the window because all that screen time is making me cross-eyed. Of course, I won’t do it because my main social life is currently behind that screen. Do you feel lonely sometimes? I do. More than once, too. Sometimes more often than not. Do you recognize that? It’s possible, and I don’t believe we’re alone. That’s why I decided to do some research and interview a few students for the student barometer. And I collected some tips against these feelings. For you. And for me. So we know we’re not alone in feeling lonely.

Tip 1: talk about it

It starts with recognition. That’s what child- and youth psychologist Anneleen explains in her conversation with Flo Windey. It’s totally okay to feel like absolute shit some days. You’re allowed to feel that way.  But talk about it, that’s step 2. Share it, talk to someone you trust and just let it all out for a minute.

Would you rather do this with someone you don’t know? Often you can find help at the international office at your college or university. Do you prefer to stay away from school, or do you want to tell your story anonymously? Then you can call with teleonthaal at the number 106 (they’re open 24/7) or you can also chat with them. Aside from that, you can also contact AWEL at the number 102 (mon – sat: 18pm – 22pm; wed 2pm – 10 pm) or you can chat with them.

Tip 2: a healthy mind in a healthy body

It’s not always easy to get ready for a new day when you have to stay inside your room anyway. Still, it’s important to do everything properly. A good night’s rest is the first step. Try not to go to bed too late so you can set your alarm on time. Don’t snooze too long, get up immediately. It’s also tempting to follow your online class in your pyjamas, but it’s best not to do that. “Try to create some sort of structure, set up a schedule and get dressed” is one of master student Anton’s tips.

Sometimes it can sound easy to order a pizza and lay on the couch all day but making this a habit is a no go. Try making your walk to the grocery store a little more fun and buy plenty of veggies you can cook a healthy meal with. Because eating healthy gives you energy! Also try to work out. You can find a lot of yoga, pilates and full body workouts on YouTube (check out this one!). Set up Skype with a friend and you can work out together.

Tip 3: Unwind the thought spiral

Feelings of loneliness can cause a lot of anxiety and unrest. Being lonely also confronts you with yourself and your – not always positive – thoughts. Try to find a distraction from these thoughts. Unwind the thought spiral. Meditating can help with that and really isn’t just a hipster thing. It can be a tool to calm yourself. There’s a lot of websites where you can join online sessions, find audio fragments or find book tips that give you more insight in meditation, and some apps you can download for free for the duration of the pandemic.

Is meditating not your cup of tea? Then there’s plenty of other things you can do to distract yourself. Learn a new language. Linguapolis organises a lot of language courses. Or get a new hobby. Painting, knitting, crocheting, embroidering, … Or you could dust off your old guitar. Reading a book is often too tiresome after a long day of working for school, but comics are a great alternative.

Podcasts can also help you wind down. No idea where to start podcasting? Find some podcast-tips from our editorial team in this article.

Tip 4: A good neighbour is better than a far friend

Bond with your roommates! It’s so important that you get to know them to prevent loneliness. Haven’t met them? “Show some initiative and ask them to cook together or go for a walk”, is freshman Limke’s tip. Some other tips to get your creative juices flowing: pick a set day in the week to cook together, organise a board game competition, organise a poker night in the kitchen or have a theme night: cheese and wine evening, spaghetti Thursday, Christmas party, potluck, pizza night, … The world’s your oyster!

Tip 5: Volunteer work

More than ever, a lot of people need a helping hand. Think about the elderly who can’t do groceries or are too afraid to do so, the homeless who require food and a roof over their heads as it gets darker and colder, shelter animals that need to be let out, … And there’s also a lot of students who really need something meaningful to do in their spare time. That’s why should think about doing volunteer work. Having a pet in your dorm might not be allowed, but that shouldn’t stop you from walking other people’s pets. Call an animal shelter near you and ask whether you can help or get registered at hondenuitlaatdienst Antwerpen. That walk in the park will soon get a whole new dimension.

The website of stad Antwerpen is perfect wen you’re looking for volunteer work, because they collect all opportunities in one big database. You can also find a lot of information on the website Aside from that you also have BEEGO, a company that matches students with elderly so they can help them with technological problems. They’re always looking for volunteers, especially in these times. You can also keep it small: write a note to your neighbours asking them if you could help by doing their groceries. Who knows? The old lady around the corner may thank you forever.

Well, that was quite a lot. But let it be clear: having a bad day is okay. And it’s also okay to say it out loud! So next time, if someone asks you: “How are you” just say: “Not great” en tell him or her all you want to get off your chest. Talk to someone you know or someone professional and I promise you: that will do you good. Or try one of the tips above, maybe they will make your bad day a little better. We’re all in this together and we’re all gonna get out!