Featured
Loneliness at university
Going to university can be the start of a whole new social life, but it can also be a lonely time. Loneliness comes from the gap between the social life you want and the social life you have. Any unplanned or unwanted alone time can leave you feeling lonely [1], particularly when you’re in a new place, away from all your familiar people. When you’re young and already going through a lot of upheaval, loneliness can be a powerful sensation. You’re trying to map out your future and your social world is rapidly changing. Your friends – even if they’re not be the same ones you had a few years ago – are becoming more important than ever before [1]. How does loneliness happen? The changes you are going through are often linked to some of the significant factors that can cause loneliness in young people: Changes in your social network. Becoming more independent from your parents and family. Exploring your identity [1]. As we grow up and start to figure out who we are, our social circles tend to shift from away from family, towards friends, perhaps because it’s easier to discuss the big issues with people in similar situations. When you leave home and go to university, you’ll be figuring out more about who you want to be. You may make new friends and start to let go of old ones, choosing to spend time with people who reflect your new interests and ambitions, people who can help you feel like you’re working towards the future you’ve just had your first glimpse of. This doesn’t mean that your family stops being important or that they leave your social circle entirely, but you might notice that the centre of your circle drifts closer to your friends. Transitional periods Feelings of loneliness can be exacerbated by any big life transition, including moving out of your family home and going away to study. A strong support network of close friends and family can help ease this pressure [2] but you may not always have access to this. If you’re going to university and you don’t know anyone, take advantage of the social activities on offer. Make plans to spend more time with the people you meet and seek out others who share your interests. And don’t go thinking you’ve got to rush to find a romantic partner to stop you from feeling lonely! Friendships can be just as good for you, boosting your self-esteem and mental wellbeing, and giving you all the benefits of intimacy and companionship that you’d get from a romantic partner [2]. The power of sharing One interesting way that you can deepen your sense of feeling socially connected is to share your possessions [3], which can be easily done in shared accommodation. As well as simple loans of things like books and clothes (if that’s your thing), there are a few other ways to think about sharing possessions. Setting up a TV or games console in a shared area means you and your housemates can enjoy it together. If one of you has a car, giving lifts is a good way to be helpful (in exchange for a contribution towards fuel, of course). Laptops and printers can be a handy loan for last-minute assignments. You can all save money by clubbing together for kitchen staples like salt, oil, teabags and washing up liquid. You can also save space by sharing kitchen equipment. If, say, one of you has a big frying pan and one of you has a colander, sharing these items can help you feel more connected – but do make sure you wash up afterwards! If you do lend and borrow possessions, be clear about what the boundaries are around when things are expected to be returned and in what condition. If you’re worried, a good rule is to avoid lending or borrowing anything that you can’t afford to replace.   References [1] Laursen, & Hartl. (2013). Understanding loneliness during adolescence: Developmental changes that increase the risk of perceived social isolation. Journal of Adolescence, 36(6), 1261-1268. [2] Lee, C., & Goldstein, S. (2016). Loneliness, Stress, and Social Support in Young Adulthood: Does the Source of Support Matter? Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45(3), 568-580. [3] Gentina, E., Shrum, L., & Lowrey, J. (2018). Coping with Loneliness Through Materialism: Strategies Matter for Adolescent Development of Unethical Behaviors. Journal of Business Ethics, 152(1), 103-122.
Article | university, loneliness
“Long distance relationship tips”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Don’t sweat it. Most people think their long distance relationship will fail because they fear their partner will replace them with someone else. In an attempt to protect themselves from this fear, their brain highlights their partner’s most negative traits. This is a common defense mechanism which prepares for the emotional pain of a break-up. However, couples who establish that they have a trusting, committed relationship, and work on their own individual mental health report greater intimacy in their long distance relationships. Lower levels of psychological distress in each individual also has positive effects on commitment, communication, and satisfaction in the long-distance relationship. Healthy daily activities such as running, yoga and meditation can all contribute to a greater relationship with one’s self, which in turn results in more positivity and optimism in the relationship. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. The scarcity effect is a technique successful marketers use to increase the value perception of their products. If a product is less available, people view it as more desirable as a certain status applies to the exclusive few who have it. The latest iPhone must be amazing if there is a long queue of people waiting at the store opening to acquire one of the scarce few, right? In long-distance relationships, the demand almost always exceeds the supply. You love each other deeply but cannot see each other as much as you would like. Due to this, couples perceive each other – and their time together – as more valuable. Planning frequent visits ahead of schedule provides anticipation and excitement. It also shows a willingness to invest in the relationship, which promotes security within it. Those who continue to arrange special and thoughtful dates once committed to each other have reported much more relationship satisfaction than those who see each other when it’s convenient. Communication is key. Although physically seeing each other may be a scarcity, speaking with each other should not be. Communication really is key as it results in less loneliness, greater feelings of intimacy, and lower levels of jealousy. Try to make it a mixture of planned and spontaneous communication to keep the relationship both comforting and filled with excitement.
User article | long distance, communication
Helping your partner find their dream job
Being in an unsatisfying job can have a negative effect on your overall happiness, and your personal relationships. Your feelings about your working life are closely linked to your relationship quality. If your partner is in a job they don’t enjoy, you will probably hear about it a lot. Your partner may find that your partner is more irritable, and complains a lot about their job and their colleagues. Your partner may also be too tired from long, stressful shifts to spend quality time with you. So how can you support them and help them get the job they’ve always dreamed of? Set aside time to help your partner apply for jobs. If your partner is still working, it might be tricky to find time for jobhunting. Set aside some time in the evenings or at weekends where you can help your partner apply for jobs. Plan in some time to search for jobs online, through newspapers, or at your local Jobcentre Plus. Encourage networking. If your partner doesn’t know anyone in the industry they want to get in, encourage them to join sites like LinkedIn where they can join groups for industry professionals and meet people in the field. If there are relevant events happening nearby, you could offer to go along with them for moral support. Make financial compromises. To get their dream job, your partner may have to take time out to study or go on a training course, which can affect your household income. Sit down together and work out where you might be able to afford to cut down on spending. You might find it helpful to read our article on talking to your partner about money. Be supportive. One of the worst parts of applying for jobs is the rejections. When you’ve spent ages preparing your CV and writing a killer cover letter, it can feel pretty disheartening to receive an impersonal email from the recruiter saying that your application was unsuccessful. If this happens to your partner, you’ll need to be there for them. What if the dream job is in another city or country? Some jobs may require your partner to relocate. If this is the case with your partner’s dream job, you will both need to discuss how this will affect your relationship and if you both want to move. If you have children together, you will need to discuss how it will affect them too. Think about whether you would both move, or just one of you, and have this discussion as a couple. These questions might help you get the conversation started: Where would you live? What is the cost of living? What opportunities are there for you in the new location? What are the pros and cons of relocating? What else is in the new location? If you have children where will they go to school? What is your shared vision for the future?
Article | work, finance
Relationships and going to university
Starting college or university is a big life change. If, like many young students, this is the first time you are leaving home, it might be an exciting and daunting time. The prospect of studying, living, and partying in a new place with new people could fill you with a powerful mix of emotions.But nothing dampens the excitement of a new start like an existing relationship. If you’re in a long-term relationship, or even if you’ve just started seeing someone over the summer, it can be hard to know how to handle a move to college or university.If you’re both moving away to study, you’ll be meeting new people; if one of you is staying at home, it could bring up a whole other set of challenges. The impending change might force you to assess the relationship. You might start wondering what they future holds, and if you can cope with a long distance relationship. Talk it out If you and your partner haven’t talked about your plans, it’s worth initiating a conversation. Have a think about your hopes and worries, and talk to you partner about how you’re feeling. Ask them how they feel about the situation– their answer might surprise you, so be prepared to listen to whatever they have to say. Try a long distance relationship If you and your partner are confident that your relationship is strong enough to last, then you can try having a long distance relationship. Many couples manage this successfully, staying in touch by text, phone or email during the term and catching up in the holidays. Depending on how far apart you are, you may be able to visit each other more frequently.How often you communicate is something you’ll have to work out together. Some couples choose to have set times, which can help avoid conflict about who’s turn it is to call whom. When you are studying in a new place, you will need to take time to pursue new interests, make new friends and, of course, study. It’s important to make the most of these new experiences, but it can be difficult for your partner. They may feel left out or worried that you’ll forget about them.It may take a few goes to get it right, but once you start communicating with each other at long distance, you’ll find there’s a balance that works for you. If you can’t visit each other during term time, plan something special for the holidays so you’ve got something to look forward to. Think carefully before making any big decisions It can be easy to get caught up in the passion of the present. You may be tempted to choose a university that’s closer to your partner, or even give up your studies altogether. It’s important to remember that this stage of your education could have profound consequences for your future. If your relationship is strong enough, it will survive the distance. Your education may not be quite so forgiving. Stop think about which matters most to you before you commit to a decision.
Article | big changes, long distance
0 3 min read
How getting married affects your finances
Getting married doesn’t affect your credit rating, but it may have some financial implications that you haven’t yet considered. If you have a joint account or a shared mortgage or bank loan, your credit rating will be tied to your partner’s, and affected by any changes. Most couples have at least one of these financial ties before tying the proverbial knot, so the act of getting married is unlikely to change any of this. Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of money.co.uk, says: “Your credit record won’t be affected just because you say, ‘I do’; it’s not until you apply for joint accounts that you become financially linked. It will impact your entitlement to Tax Credits though, and you may also get tax back if you qualify for Marriage Allowance; so, it’s worth telling HMRC [and] insurance providers – this is definitely worth doing because it could mean you pay less for cover!” Marriage Allowance was introduced by the government in April 2015. What this means is that if you earn less than £11,500 and your spouse or civil partner earns more than that (but less than £45,000), then you may be eligible to transfer some of your tax-free allowance over to them. This guide will help you learn how to take advantage of this. You can also make tax-free gifts to your partner. For example, if one of you receives a financial inheritance, you can give a portion of this to your spouse without being taxed. You may also be able to cut the tax you are charged on your savings interest. When you earn interest in a regular savings account, you are charged tax according to your income tax bracket. If your spouse is in a lower tax bracket than you, or if they aren’t a tax-payer, storing your savings in their name can save you money on the interest you earn. Of course, it’s very important that you trust your partner before taking this on! If you have a will, it will become invalid as soon as you get married, so you will need to update it or write a new one. Hannah Maundrell says: “Tying the knot doesn’t mean that your every worldly possession is half your partner’s… while you’re alive at least. The situation is very different if you die, so you need to update your will as a priority because your old one will be invalidated. It does mean that you could earn more interest on your savings if you trust them with your money and they’re in a lower income tax band than you”.
Article | finance, marriage
0 3 min read
Moving house with a disabled child
Moving house is one of the most stressful things a family can go through. When you have a disabled child there are many extra factors to consider, on top of the usual expense and logistics of moving to a new location.  One of your biggest considerations will be your child’s support network, which includes not only schools, medical care and other local services, but also the support you get from family and friends. Even if you’re moving specifically to be closer to family, you may be moving away from other support that you’ve learned to rely on. When moving to a new location, you can help make the transition smoother by setting up as much as possible in advance. You may find it helpful to consider the following areas of support [1]. Access and information Find out where your new local services will be and how to access them. You should be able to find information about services and support for disabled children on any local authority website. If you are receiving services and support from the local authority where you live now, make sure you talk to them about transferring to your new local authority, as you may have to undergo a new assessment. There’s an expectation that the local authority where you live will at least liaise with the new authority about your child’s needs and support in the interim. You may also want to find out about what any registration processes and what you will have to do. If there is a waiting list, find out how long you are likely to have to wait and, if appropriate, get on the list as soon as possible. Cost Affordability is one of the main barriers between parents and services. Check if there are cost differences in services between where you live now and where you are moving to. Unfortunately, if you are receiving payments or funding for certain services now, your new local authority is not under any obligation to provide the same level of support or help in the interim while waiting for a new assessment to be carried out. Seek advice about this from the Contact helpline on 0808 808 3555, helpline@contact.org.uk. You may wish to factor this into your budget if you are able, and, if necessary, work out where you can make savings. Schools One of the biggest challenges you are likely to face is how to integrate your child into school and the wider community. How easy or hard this is for you will depend largely on where you are moving, and the age of your child.  Many parents find it difficult to push back against the status quo, concerned that they might be thought of as a ‘trouble parent’ [1], but it’s important to find a balance. Your child’s school experience is an essential part of their wellbeing and will help them to develop social skills for forming relationships as they get older. If there’s anything you’re not happy with, ask for something to be done about it, or consider other options. You’ll probably have started looking at schools as soon as you started considering the move. It’s also worth investigating community activities and other social opportunities for your child. If your child is receiving extra help at school, for example they have a statement of special educational needs, Education, Health and Care plan or Coordinated Support Plan, speak to the teacher responsible at school, and find out how the move to a new school will be managed. Again, seek advice from Contact’s education advice line about this on 0808 808 3555, email helpline@contact.org.uk Family support The work that goes into parenting a child with disabilities can take up so much of your time and energy that friends and family end up taking a back seat [2], but it’s impossible to put a value on having people living nearby whom you can rely on. Support from friends and extended family support can help you cope with the additional time demands and unpredictability of parenting [1] and, most of the time, it doesn’t cost anything. If you haven’t yet decided where to move, consider areas that are near supportive friends and family. They may even be able to offer advice on local services. Don’t assume they’ll always be able to support you though – other people shouldn’t be the only reason you move. Remember that if they decide to move away in a year’s time, you’ll still have to live in the new location.  It’s important to access whatever support is available, as it can allow you to spend quality time with your other children, and with each other as a couple [1]. If you are moving somewhere you won’t have family locally, make sure you check out options for respite care and other support such as counselling, sibling support and childcare. If funded support isn’t available, calculate the likely costs of any support you would have to pay for, and factor this into your moving plans. General tips Moving is stressful for everyone. These general tips may help to take some of the pressure off once you are ready to make the move. Look after yourselves Remember that you and your partner will also be affected by the upheaval of the move. During the build-up, eat well and try to get enough sleep. Don’t forget to think about activities that you can do in your new place, and make plans to explore the new area together. Clear your schedule During the week of the move, take some time off work and arrange for someone to look after the children, so that you can focus on getting everything else sorted. Let yourself off the hook You’re probably going to feel anxious and stressed for a bit, so don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect. Give yourself some space. Do some slow breathing. Talk to someone. Accept help If anyone offers practical support with your move, say, yes! Hand over a copy of your to-do list if you have to – just let people help. Focus on the positives Remind yourself of why you are moving – better job prospects, a nicer location, or perhaps just a home that suits your family’s needs better. Whatever it was that led you to make the decision to move, keep it in mind, and look forward to the things that matter most. References [1] Resch, J. A., Mireles, G. Benz, M. R., Grenwelge, C., Peterson, R., & Zhang, D. (2010). Giving Parents a Voice: A Qualitative Study of the Challenges Experienced by Parents of Children With Disabilities. Rehabilitation Psychology, 2010, 55(2), 139-150.  [2] Brannen, M. A., & Heflinger, C. A. (2006). Caregiver, child, family, and service system contributors to caregiver strain in two mental health service systems. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, 33, 408 – 422.
Article | parenting, disability
0 7 min read