How to beat the loneliness bug

Josie Gawrys, Spartan Editor 

The choice to live on or off campus. In any other semester, that would be an approachable decision. “Off-campus” often meant a short commute from Rutland or a quick jaunt down the road from Sparty Rentals.

But this semester, living off campus could mean living hours away from any of your friends.

Living a smooth 7 hours from campus in Pennsylvania, I have gone above and beyond the social distancing guidelines. And with all my school friends living so far from me, I’m having my fair share of social isolation and fear of missing out—or “FOMO.”

So, I asked around. Friends here in my hometown, friends off at other colleges, and friends at Castleton who decided to live at home like I did. How do we keep ourselves from feeling lonely? How do we even keep ourselves sane?

After countless zoom meetups, phone calls, and Instagram story polls, I’ve compiled a comprehensive list for your benefit—and mine—on how to shake the social isolation blues.

Get involved with extracurriculars: There are all sorts activities that you can participate in on and off campus that have changed up their style to suit those who can’t attend in person. Castleton offers more than 50 clubs—find some that interest you and check them out!

Attend events virtually: The Campus Activities Board still hosts events every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Many events are live-streamed, and this is a great way to feel connected to campus when you can’t be there.

Schedule zoom hangouts: If you’re living far away from your friends and classmates, find a time that you can meet over zoom and catch up or even have study groups together.

Here’s me on zoom with some of my friends.

Try out a new hobby: It’s never too late to jump on the bread baking trend. Learning a new skill or even just doing an activity that you enjoy can have an immensely positive effect on your mood. And creating something like a fresh loaf of bread can really make you feel accomplished!

Multiplayer games: If you like videogames, this one’s for you. Try playing games with your friends online that you can play together. This is a fun, unique way to connect with people and a great way to blow off steam from classes and jobs.

Self-improvement: Maybe you’ve always wanted to run a 5k. Maybe you want to try out meditation or yoga. Maybe you just want to take more time for yourself. Now is the time! No one expects you to leave your quarantine with a six pack, but that doesn’t mean you can’t set goals for yourself.

Talk to a professional: Covid-19 has had an immeasurable impact on the health of our society. This includes mental health. Many of us are struggling, and it is not shameful to reach out to a counselor to talk about how you’re feeling. The Castleton Wellness Center offers free counseling services, and they are there to help.

Throughout my research, I received countless messages from peers about how the pandemic has affected them. So many people told me they were feeling trapped at home, lonely, depressed, and unsure of what to do.

Honestly, it was unexpected. I didn’t realize so many people could relate to me.

Castleton sophomore Emery Benoit opened up to me about her struggles with feeling lonely both on and off campus. She often felt it was her fault that she wasn’t socializing enough. But covid-19 has changed how she views that isolated feeling.

“We can be together in our loneliness, and we can talk about it. It’s oddly comforting to see everybody in the same situation. To know that we’re in this together,” Benoit said.

That really stuck with me. After that conversation, I gave some of my friends a call and asked how they were feeling. With all of us feeling lonely, the most important thing we can do is reach out to each other.

“Loneliness in quarantine is something everyone has, and I don’t feel alone in that anymore.”

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