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Siggie psychologist Dominique and a student talk about loneliness: ‘Everyone experiences loneliness from time to time’

The student navigator ‘Find your way’ helps students find their way around the university. Siggie, online coaching for students, can also be found on this roadmap. Siggie psychologist Dominique and a student talk about how Siggie can help if you experience loneliness.

What is loneliness?

Dominique: ‘Loneliness comes in different forms. It is important to know that loneliness is not the same as being alone. There are two types: emotional loneliness and social loneliness. Emotional loneliness means that you lack a close intimate connection with people. You have enough social contact with people, but you miss the depth in these relations. With social loneliness you have less social contact than you would like. Among students you encounter all forms of loneliness. Research shows that one out of four young people between the ages of 16 and 25 feel very lonely.’ 

What are tips for when you experience loneliness?

‘There are no one-size-fits-all tips for what you can do about loneliness. Everyone experiences loneliness differently. Also, everyone feels lonely sometimes and it is a feeling that comes with life. Sometimes it works to just let this feeling be there. If you lack connection with others, you can try to build a deeper connection with already existing contacts. For example, see if you can have a chat with someone in your workgroup. If you want to build more contacts, you can join a club or association that suits your interests.’   

In what ways can a Siggie psychologist help if someone is experiencing loneliness?

‘We can help in different ways. Sometimes a conversation helps to release your thoughts. We also guide students with how they can make deeper connections with people in their own social circle or how to make new connections. We do this, for example, with practical assignments that the student does in everyday life.’ 

How can you see that someone is lonely?

‘Loneliness is difficult to signal because it is an inner feeling, and it is different for everyone. Something you can always do when someone is feeling lonely or when someone is not feeling too well, is to listen. Try not to dive straight into different solutions, or immediately downplaying the other person's problem by a comment like ‘Ah, you have so many friends anyway’. The most important thing is that when someone makes themselves vulnerable, you listen to their story.’ 

Text: Annemieke van Es 

Student talking about loneliness

Why did you contact Siggie? 

‘Two years ago, my father passed away and last year I noticed that I no longer had the ability to concentrate. During lectures, I could not take in information, and it seemed like my body was rejecting all this information. Then I thought ‘hey, that's not like me’. I also had the feeling that I was alone in my grieving process and that no one understood what I was going through. I had enough social contacts, but still had the feeling that I had nowhere to tell my story. A friend drew my attention to Siggie. This looked interesting to me because the step felt less big than going to a psychologist and it doesn't cost any money.’ 

How did the sessions with a Siggie psychologist help you? 

‘It was nice that I could tell my story about what I had been going through. I learned that the symptoms I was having are 'normal' in a grieving process. It was nice to know that what I was experiencing was not weird at all. What I learned during the sessions is to talk to people about how you feel, even though that can be difficult. In my family, when dealing with grief, everyone was on their own little island. Despite that, I learned during the sessions that it is still important to start the conversation. Through the sessions I got to know myself better and I know that talking to others is important to me. Also, I have only recently started talking to friends about how I really feel and what I am going through. I have found that real friends do eventually want to have the conversation with you about this, and in the end, it's beneficial for both.’  

What do you do differently now compared to before you had the sessions with Siggie? 

‘The feeling of loneliness is still there sometimes, of course. I just know now how to deal with it. I have grown socially and am better at setting my boundaries. I have noticed that you don't always have to put negativity first. I have also learned to set my boundaries and that you don't have to go all social activities. Sometimes you are at a party, and you think: I don't really want to be here, because you don't feel good about yourself at that moment. Now, I manage to listen to my gut feeling and say: ‘Sorry, I will not be there’. Then I take a moment for myself and recharge. Another tip I got from my psychologist at Siggie was to write down my thoughts in a so-called ‘worrying block’. On this block I write all my thoughts, lists, what I need to do tomorrow, and more. This helps me get my thoughts back in order.’ 

What is Siggie?

Siggie for students is an online coaching platform for students. Fear of failure, insecurity, stress, procrastination, trouble sleeping, mood changes: Siggie can help you with all these issues. Coaching by Siggie is paid for by the faculty. Your personal information will not be shared. The coaching track consists of five online sessions and Siggie does not have a long waiting list, so you will be able to start fairly quickly.

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