When we live on our own during pre-pandemic times, many do not think that much about it as there is time for activities and sharing with friends, colleagues at work, and those we meet during normal interactions at restaurants, plays, the gym or other planned events. But when COVID hit and people had to “shelter in place” … work at home, tolerate lockdown or quarantine … those living alone had a particular cross to bear.
All of a sudden symptoms arose for many who normally tolerate living alone … a loneliness and upset that was unusual … or vague feelings of being distressed and not even knowing why. Many started experiencing edginess and irritability, a sense of being lost, or blue, anxious or hopeless.
The first thing one needs to recognize is living alone during the time of COVID-19 is truly stressful.
And identifying loneliness as the cause can be helpful. To begin with there are some things individuals can do to help alleviate loneliness …
1. DEVELOP HEALTHY ROUTINES
Lockdowns and shutdowns can remove the boundaries between days. If you find yourself losing track of time or feeling a reduction in your motivation and purpose, it can be helpful to establish daily routines that help you maintain a sense of productivity.
Whether morning exercise, time for reflection or meditation, or an afternoon walk outdoors — set intentional moments that you can count on to add structure to your days. As routine-based creatures, humans thrive on routine and schedule. Add a bit of consistency to your days with activities that can help you feel a sense of accomplishment and rest.
2. CONNECT SOCIALLY
COVID-19 has illuminated the importance of having connections with other people. When being alone and wearing masks and social distancing prevent individuals from spending time together readily, and openly, it is essential to put in place opportunities to connect and speak with others.
Having time outdoors socially distanced but sitting with friends or family can be very helpful. The increase in digital access to others through video conferences and social media has opened the digital doors for sharing with friends or finding community. It is vital to be intentional about finding time to connect with others. Finding a therapist to connect with can help as well.
3. PICK UP A NEW HOBBY OR SKILL
If you are living on your own during shutdown or quarantine it can be a fine time to learn to master new skills or hobbies you have been wanting to pursue. Are there projects or skills that you have been wanting to get around to accomplishing but haven’t had the time? Take advantage of this isolation and focus on the silver lining of increased personal time.
Living on your own — especially during quarantine and shutdown — can increase the struggles you may have with feelings of isolation, anxiety, depression and others . When you lose access to the support system vital to living a thriving life, it is easy to lose hope. As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to linger on— and in some cases worsen to the point of new lockdowns — it is important to put in place habits, routines, and connections that can encourage health and wellness physically and emotionally. If you feel you need some assistance in this regard you might also consider contacting me for Teletherapy services that allow us to spend time together from the comfort of your home.
EFFECT OF TRAUMA
Some of you may have deep-seated experiences of isolation, loneliness, and abandonment feelings from childhood.. when perhaps you were abused and/or neglected. When the isolation from COVID came along, you might have found yourself feeling deeply upset with very strong feelings and experiences. One thing that is most important to know is that if your feelings feel overwhelming, you may be re-experiencing your childhood as well as the loneliness prompted by COVID. This may be a good time to connect with a therapist well versed in such conditions such as myself. We really are all in this together.