• Safah Alazzawi

How I Tackled Loneliness in a New City

Moving or travelling to a new place can be exciting, it is always great to have a change of

scenery, but it is also daunting at the same time. When I moved away to Manchester for University, I found it hard to find my feet and struggled to make new connections and friends. This was emphasised due to the coronavirus pandemic, having interactions limited and for me personally with the majority of the university course being online.

Being alone can get you down. I have experienced it, first-hand. I was always excited to leave home and be my own independent person, only to realise when I was there that I missed home more than anything. I would often call home and check up on my family, more than I usually would have when I was at home.

But this new sudden loneliness caused many nights of crying, recreating the infamous Bridget Jones scene and almost booking the next train home. I was ready to give up new experiences and opportunities for the knowing security of being with my family and having that blanket of protection.

Although you have group chats and the occasional in-person lectures. Making connections have become increasingly difficult. But it is not impossible. One thing I learned is that there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way you do and just want someone to make the first move to create a friendship.

How I got out of the funk

1. Stay positive

Finding anyway to turn something into a positive is a must. I know it is sometimes difficult to get out of the mindset of everything being against you, but sometimes, as cliche as it sounds, you just have to say to yourself head up and look for the positives in everyday.

One of the ways I stayed positive was learning to reflect and giving the new place a chance and learning that it is okay to be alone. Being alone gives you so much awareness about the inner you, which, allows you to reflect and work on becoming better. I realised I relied on other people to make experiences and to make me happy that when I was by myself, I did not know how to function or what to do with myself.

The first thing I did was during the day, I went for a walk around the local area. Now being in a new place can be scary, because you do not know what could be around the corner, this is why I suggest doing this during the day. The optimal time I would say is during the morning or afternoon. This way, you can explore the new city/area with the security cars and people around, so you are slightly safer if anything were to happen.

From that point, I set the goal of trying to do 10,000 steps a day. Not to say you have to do 10,000 steps to conquer loneliness but the idea of having and trying to achieve a goal to focus on.

2. Goal + Schedule = Growth

The goals can vary from many things, but setting yourself achievable goals allows you to focus on it specifically. The time and mentality you spend focusing on achieving this goal, you almost forget that feeling of loneliness.

This may be due to overworking your brain, but allowing for you to be focused and with all the time you have spare, you can achieve your goal. This gives off an endorphin reaction, which elevates your overall mood and allows you to have that experience/growth that you have been looking for.

Personally, I have set the goal of trying to achieve 10,000 steps a day. I wanted to be able to get out of my flat. Having this incentive would push me to go and walk further because there would be nothing else, I would have been doing.

The way I do this is through scheduling. My best tip is that schedules are the keys to success, in every aspect of life. I am not exaggerating.

While living carefree and not knowing what is coming next can be thrilling. This also plays a part in the scheduling process.

I schedule a time frame to get my work for the day done. I work between 11am – 4pm Mondays- Fridays. Sometimes I finish earlier depending on types of work and amount of content I have to complete. Then when I am done, I have half an hour to check my timetable and to tidy my room before going out for my 10,000 at around 4:30 – 5:00pm, before coming back home. Ending my day by making my dinner & then giving myself time to relax afterwards.

My schedule is not strict but allows me to focus on specific sections and get my work done to enjoy my free time.

With a schedule, a day can quickly be filled up & then this allows for you to be distracted from the feeling and idea of being alone. However, do not have the mentality that you need to stick to a schedule by the minute, if you need a day off give yourself that day off, treat yourself to a trip or a break. This is only a guide for those who may have no idea how to deal with being alone.

3. Bumble for Friends –

This may be surprising, but bumble has a friendship section on their app. You can create and form friendships with people who are seeking genuine interaction and not a ‘romantic’ relationship.

Unfortunately, I do not interact much with my flat, this only emphasised my loneliness in a big new city. So, I thought why not download this app & that is what I did.

When I told my best friend from home, she was so surprised. She could not understand my struggle with making new friends or interactions in the very confusing Covid / Uni environment. I knew that people would be in a similar situation and had seen this feature trending on Tik Tok, so I thought why not?

Fortunately for me, I was able to make friends with many girls who were in the same position as me. Newly moved to a new city, finding it hard to make friends. Although it may seem like an unconventional way of meeting new people, I would highly suggest this method. Also, accounts need to be verified if you need to ensure that it is safe. But if you do meet up with someone. Please meet in a public area & both find your own way home. It is better to be safe than sorry.

4. Netflix or Amazon Prime

(My new best friends) Start a new TV show, something you can look forward to watching when you are forced to isolate for 2 weeks or are in lockdown. Having a show to watch during dinner anticipates excitement. However, do not let this distract you from your other work.

My recommendations for movies to cope with loneliness and a fresh start

- Bridget Jones Diary 1/2/3

- Groundhog Day

- Life is beautiful

- Life of Pi

- The Pianist

- Stranger than Fiction

- Anything Adam Sandler

Being alone can be scary. However, you need to remember you are never truly alone, there is always someone out there that will listen to you and that cares for you. Do not be afraid to come out of your shell and to experience new things. Try to say Yes to new opportunities.

Thank you for reading my article, I hope it helps if you are tackling with any type of loneliness and that you enjoy the movie recommendations.

If you are severely dealing with loneliness and need someone to speak to or are struggling with your mental health, please seek out help. I have linked charities and organisations to help with anyone that may be struggling or need someone to listen.

Mind - MindInfoline: 0300 123 3393 mind.org.uk

ChildLine - Helpline: 0800 1111 childline.org.uk

YoungMinds - Helpline: 0808 802 5544 youngminds.org.uk

Papyrus - HOPELINEUK: 0800 068 4141 papyrus-uk.org

Students Against Depression - studentdepression.org

Campaign Against Living Miserably - Helpline: 0800 58 58 58 thecalmzone.net