Q: I like to spend a lot of time alone (hey, I need to study!), but my roommate thinks I'm getting too isolated. Who's right?
A: Here's what might be going on. Typically, college students become isolated for one of three reasons: anxiety, stress, or depression. Trouble dealing with an academic workload, discomfort with a new environment, struggling to find like-minded people, and trying to adjust to college life can stir up all of these feelings. But balancing a social life with academic obligations and time to yourself is important to overall mental well-being.
"Claire" (her name has been changed to protect confidentiality) began her sophomore year in high school eager to make new friends and committed to doing well in her classes. Then, as winter approached and the days grew shorter, Claire noticed that she needed more sleep than usual. Even after sleeping more, she had no energy and felt fatigued, moody, and depressed.
When she tried to write articles for the school paper, something that normally came easy for her, Claire had trouble concentrating. She...
To figure out if you're "too isolated," ask yourself: Do you spend any time with others? Do you feel as though people just don't "get" you? Are you balancing school obligations with an exploration of the world around you? Does the thought of trying to start new friendships make you so uneasy you feel socially paralyzed?
If your answers are mostly "yes," try to force yourself to be around others. College campuses are full of clubs, associations, study groups, and activities where you might find people similar to you. If the thought of interacting with strangers is overwhelming, try for an activity where you can just observe. Simply being out and about can help elevate your mood.