Tips for Students Tackling the January Blues

January especially can be a lonely time for students, but here is some advice and resources to help you through

The university experience promises nights out, making new friends and trying new activities, rocking up to your 9am with a hangover and (hopefully) a degree to be proud of by the end of it all. While the empty bank account and debates about who’s turn it is to take out the rubbish is all part of the fun and adventure, one thing I feel like no one talks about is how incredibly lonely university can be. Sundays can be full of beer fear and dreading the week of seminars ahead and let’s be frank, January always feels like a month of Sundays.

If you have been at home for Christmas, January can be full of winter blues and the end of term assessments at this time of the year really do not help with that. However, January does not have to be full of wishing you were back on the couch with a hot chocolate and Christmas film. It is a time for getting back to routine, no matter how hard it is to find the motivation, and the excitement (pressure-free) of trying something new in the new year. 

When I first moved into university halls and my parents had left me to crack on with my new journey, the silence was immediately noticed.

This is something me and my housemates discussed was the weirdest thing to get used to. You no longer have the hum of your siblings in other rooms, the clatter of your dad tidying the kitchen and popping on the kettle, or your mum listening to The Chase aggressively loud. Something I do when the house feels a little too quiet is put the TV on my laptop in the background of whatever else it is I am doing. Not Netflix, but TV, even if I am not watching it, but to maintain a home comfort that is so easily taken for granted.

Also, simply opening your bedroom door is such a small detail but makes all that difference to not feel secluded. It reminds your housemates they are not alone too. Admitting you feel lonely or homesick is scary, and you may just want to try to feel and overcome your emotions on your own. If this is the case, doing something small and meditative like simply putting on music can drown out the silence, and override the thoughts in your head. Listening to the radio or a podcast means you have company you do not have to entertain. Remind yourself what calming things you would usually do at home whether it is art, playing a video game, practicing a musical instrument, and get used to this independent enjoyment from the comfort of your new home. 

January is the most popular time of the year for falling back in love with an old hobby, so let that keep you company.

You can distract yourself from the blues by crafting a project or setting goals to ground and focus yourself. Having just come out of a festive period, there may be little excitement or motivation in your body, so celebrating little accomplishments like reading a book for pleasure or cooking a big meal for yourself can make you appreciate the little things. Take January slow. ‘New Year, New Me’ can start in February. 

It cannot be ignored that January is also the assessment period for a lot of students. Who decided that we have to revise and write essays over the Christmas holiday?! Remember to take breaks by going on walks for fresh air, and make time to rest and socialise, no matter how busy you feel. You and your housemates are probably all in the same boat, so asking if someone wants a quick ten minute cuppa break in the kitchen may make their day, and be exactly what you need no matter how much you convince yourself you’ll “power through”.

Getting out and going to the library or a coffee shop to work can also feel a lot less isolating, plus leaving the house in the January cold is a form of productivity to be commended in itself! 

Overall, January can be an extremely fun time of year. The winter festivities do not have to end just because Christmas is over. Have a movie night with your housemates, cook a roast together, go ice skating, or grab the reduced minced pies in supermarkets while you still can! Feeling homesick after you have spent a long time at home with your family can be the worst – trust me I know – but your best friends and family are only a phone call or text message away. Arrange the next time you can see them again so that you can start counting down the days, or ask if they can visit you. 

This January get yourself out of bed, give yourself things to look forward to, and embrace your usual home comforts if you’re struggling with the dark mornings and cold nights. Before you know it, it will be summer again. 


Useful Wellbeing Resources for Students: 

University of Sussex Buddy Scheme

The University of Sussex Buddy Scheme helps Sussex students connect with other students. 

It is an informal peer to peer support scheme consisting of members and volunteers, run by the Student’s Union to help students settle into life and make the most of university. 

Read more about the Buddy Scheme, become a member, or a volunteer at: https://www.buddyscheme.com/apply

University of Sussex Societies: 

For a full list of societies you can get involved with to make new friends and be a part of the university spirit, see https://sussexstudent.com/sport-societies-media


Tea and Talk Peer Support Network 

Tea and Talk offers an informal space for Sussex students to talk and be listened to, as well as an opportunity to find out about other sources of support. The sessions are run by friendly trained Sussex students between 1pm-3pm on a Wednesday afternoon, and you can expect free tea, biscuits and mindful activities.

To be confidentially matched with a Tea and Talk facilitator, please email the service at residentiallife@sussex.ac.uk. Or, find out more at http://www.sussex.ac.uk/wellbeing/studentlife/peersupport

FOR MORE MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL HELP FROM UoS:

http://www.sussex.ac.uk/wellbeing/mentalhealth


University of Brighton Self-Help Resources 

If you do not want to speak to anyone about your emotions, the University of Brighton has created some self-help packs with advice looking after your mental health which are readily available for everyone online to read. There is a pack on Managing Homesickness, or how to Combat Stress through Relaxation. 

https://www.brighton.ac.uk/brighton-students/your-student-life/my-wellbeing/self-help-resources/index.aspx

Student Support from BIMM Institute: 

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