Here are some tips for students feeling isolated in Cardiff right now
Feeling isolated during Cardiff’s turbulent lock-down? Here are some things that might help
As of the 28th September, Cardiff entered into a local lockdown which restricted, among other things, household meetings, gathering in large groups, and the time us students can stumble home from The Woodville. It seems all the key components of student life have been put on hold. No longer can you have a cheeky brew in the garden with mates (unless it’s with your neighbours over your awkwardly low walls), nor can you have those late night – seemingly articulate – drunk conversations in some random bloke’s living room during a house party.
Therefore, it’s only natural that students may be feeling pretty lonely. The Official Mental Health Foundation have said young people aged 18 to 24 were most likely to experience loneliness since the lockdown began. Before lockdown, one in six (or 16 per cent) said they felt lonely. Since lockdown, young people are almost three times more likely to have experienced loneliness, with almost half (44 per cent) feeling this way. To put it simply: a lot of us are feeling pretty isolated right now.
So, listed below are some things that might help you feel less lonely in a city that’s been put on pause.
1. Start planning for Christmas
Cardiff is overflowing with an unlimited range of shops, from those with high end prices to the ones more friendly to student budgets – my personal favourite being Flying Tiger in St. David’s shopping centre.
If you’re like me, then you are most definitely on a budget. I also like to buy things second-hand where I can, so an ideal option for us students is the millions of charity shops (okay maybe not millions, but at least a good 20) in Cathays. They are a cheap and environmentally friendly way to start getting ready for the Christmas we are all looking forward to.
Obviously we are approaching a ‘fire-break’ lockdown – but really that just gives us time to get our shopping lists in order so that we are ready to hit the high-street (with our masks and plenty of hand-sanitiser) once everything reopens, and boss that Christmas shopping!
Whilst you wait, you could even test your arts and crafts skills by making some colourful Christmas gift labels for friends or family.
2. Try your hand at some baking
Bake a cake. Sounds simple, but it just seems to make time fly by and was a saviour to us all during the lockdown earlier in the year. I am definitely no baking connoisseur – it took me a whole day to make a Victoria Sponge – but the finished result was well worth the effort. It was delicious and occupied a day that otherwise would have been spent doing pretty much nothing.
The only thing I will mention is that it can be pretty expensive to buy to all the ingredients. Your best bet is to find your nearest Lidl and go ham in there! You could also make it a house activity and split the ingredients between you.
If you’re not much of a baker, you could also try cooking a new dish for the first time. Now is the time to attempt all of those meals that sound like they’d take way too long – because, let’s be honest, most of us have the time now.
3. Take a walk through Bute Park (or any park!)
One of the main reasons many of us chose to come to Cardiff Uni was the city’s greenery. It’s no secret that Cardiff is FULL of green spaces and beautiful walks. I love taking myself off into the woody wilderness with a pack of paints and a blank canvas. Now that it’s a bit chillier out, you can whack on a scarf, grab a hot chocolate and enjoy the views – maybe even take a book if you’re wrapped up warm enough! Invite your friends, because parks are one of the easiest places to social-distance. There are plenty of parks in Cardiff, so you could even switch it up week to week.
With the gorgeous array of trees throughout Bute Park, you could even collect some leaves to make those homemade Christmas labels! Plus, the multitude of chestnuts that you can take home for craft or for cooking make a really nice bonus.
4. Structure your week
This is a big one. With the local lockdown that has been happening, and the upcoming ‘fire-break’ lockdown, it’s pretty easy to feel lonely, as well as unmotivated. Set a couple of hours aside to plan out the next few days. Giving your week structure means you have to get out of bed, and means you may feel less overwhelmed and defeated when considering what to do with your day.
Some of my favourite things to do around Cardiff that you should all add to your weeks:
• Cardiff Castle: Free entry to the grounds during the pandemic is a bonus.
• Bike ride to Cardiff Bay: Next bikes are £1 per half an hour and are located all over Cardiff. The Bay has so many great places to eat or get a few cheeky drinks. A visit to the Roald Dahl Plass will knock the uni bedroom claustrophobia right out of you.
• Charity Shops: (Sorry, I am OBSESSED)
• Blue Honey Local: (Thank me later!) It took me until the end of first year to realise this absolute gem existed. Located on City Road, the beautifully minimalistic, bohemian café sells organic drinks . You can sit inside or, my preference, the outside tepee tent.
• Ertha: Located in the same place as Blue Honey Local, this tropical jungle-like café is another must. The rule: any plant you see, you can buy (within reason, maybe don’t buy the whole shop). They provide amazing plates of food and organic drinks and promise to be a ‘not-for-profit community interest company.’ Any money they make goes back to the community through workshops and enterprises
• Cardiff Arcade: Even if you don’t want to spend money, just a walk around the quaint shops and independent stores will make you feel like you’ve travelled back to the 1920s, with its art-deco architecture.
Managing to stick to a daily routine will give you the feel-good factor and will hopefully bring back what Covid has taken from so many people: good old structure.
5. Have a day for yourself
With all the FOMO in the air we really forget to take time for ourselves. This is a reminder that days alone are OK! Enjoy your own company, pick up that book that’s taken you seven months to read, put on that facemask and RELAX. Remind yourself why you love your own company so much.
6. Talk to someone
Probably the most important advice on this list and, although it seems a simple concept, it’s still probably the hardest thing to do. Everyone finds it hard to talk, whether you’re introverted or an extrovert, but it’s extremely important we do.
Try talking to a friend or a family member but if you want someone less personal, here are some help lines for discussing mental health, free of charge:
• Call or email your local GP
• The University Wellbeing and Counselling service: [email protected] or +44 (0)29 2251 8888
• Samaritans: 116 123
• Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC): Advice and support for anyone affected by anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and all kinds of eating distress.
• Beat: Helplines, online support and self-help groups to help people across the UK beat eating disorders.
• Community Advice & Listening Line (C.A.L.L.) Helpline: Mental health helpline for Wales offering emotional support and information for anyone concerned about their own mental health or that of a relative or friend on 0800 132 737 or text ‘help’ to 81066
• NHS Wales Direct: General NHS helpline 0845 46 47
Honestly, who knows when things will get back to normal but, for now, lets just focus on supporting each other and looking after ourselves.