Loneliness occurs when we lack face-to-face social contact, especially when this is undesired or due to factors beyond our control.

The COVID pandemic situation involves health measures that impacts student life and life on campus. This is not a chosen situation and adapting to the circumstances with varying degrees of ease, open-mindedness, flexibility and creativity is necessary to do well in the best possible conditions for the rest of the semester. The first step is understanding what loneliness is and to notice the changes it induces in your behavior or that of those close to you.  

Consequences & impact

This situation requires social distancing measures leading to stay away – at least physically – from classmates and friends, as well as to change certain habits. The lack of face-to-face interactions with other students, coupled to the necessity to adapt to the imposed environment to study online in a demanding academic environment and fewer contacts with the family, can lead to social isolation.

The impact of a lack of social interactions can destabilize students who just started or are already into their EPFL degree programs and make the isolation difficult to live with. The consequences could be higher levels of stress and anxiety, a sense of disorientation, a lack of organization or even preliminary symptoms of depression.

All these are normal responses, as this situation requires facing the unknown. It could take a while for you to adapt and find the right strategies, habits and resources for coping. The important thing is to figure out what works best for you given your personal needs.

Do not hesitate to reach out for help

If you or someone close to you is suffering from loneliness, don’t hesitate to reach out for help or speak with someone you trust. The suffering could manifest itself as a drop in motivation, falling behind in classwork, difficulty concentrating or remaining organized, or feeling overwhelmed. Talking to someone about it usually helps.