Everyone has been affected by the global pandemic. Many people are experiencing energy slumps and difficulty focusing, as well as feelings of isolation. If you’re socially distancing and living alone, you might be struggling with the lack of human contact and feelings of loneliness. There are some tangible steps you can take to support yourself during this tough time.
I live alone, and have been working from home and socially distancing since early March. That means it’s been about two months since I’ve touched another human or seen my partner face-to-face, as we live separately in different areas of a large metropolitan city. It has definitely been a challenge being by myself that whole time.
Of course,distancing with a spouse or significant other at home, or with school-age kids or even roommates, has its own challenges! But here, I’m specifically going to address ways to assist with feelings of isolation and the emotional impact of COVID-19 while living alone.
My favorite way to utilize the amazing technology we have right now to help with loneliness is seeing other people “live,” or doing activities live, through video calling. I taught my tech-illiterate mom how to watch Instagram Live so we could take a great live yoga class together! Look to your local communities for options.
You can also organize streamed activities with friends and family; r one group of my friends is doing a bi-weekly video brunch, and I know others who have organized evening socials online over a glass of wine. Take the step to organize something for your circle!
Confide your feelings and worries in loved ones, friends, and family, over video chats or the phone. Big stresses are a lot less overwhelming when they’re shared and out in the open. If you are able, you can also hold space for your dear ones to express their concerns and experiences in return. Listening and supporting others can be as valuable as being heard, in a different way. If it’s safe to do so in your area, you might even be able to have a socially distanced visit to talk in-person with them.
Try to have some time away from computers, television, and smartphones. Your screen usage may have increased, and that’s okay, but it’s still important for our brains to spend time away from screens and focus instead on something else, like reading a book, spending time (safely) outside, or baking. Also, too much blue light from our screens can interfere with falling asleep, so it’s a good idea to put them away at least an hour before bed, every night.
If you already have a pet, spend some extra time bonding with your furry friend. (My cat has now mastered the treat-induced high five!) Pets can seriously mitigate loneliness, especially if you’re able to snuggle with them. If you’ve already been considering adoption, this might be a good time!
Or, you can connect with your local rescues to offer to foster if you’d like a cat or dog without wanting to adopt permanently. My cat has been so helpful for my emotional balance right now, although I probably talk out loud to her more than ever before!
This is the perfect time to pick up an old hobby or try something new. Simply enjoy the activity without putting pressure on yourself to make something perfect. Creativity can induce a “flow” state where you are completely absorbed in your activity, which can have positive mental health benefits. There are many options for creativity, like writing, fiber arts, and even cooking! I picked up a neglected painting practice and got some exciting new watercolor paints to inspire myself, and even learned how to make homemade candles!
Find some green
Depending on the restrictions in your area, getting outside while maintaining a safe distance from others can have physical and mental benefits, especially if you can get into some wild spaces like a beach or forest. Fresh air is a great change when you’ve been cooped up, and getting some vitamin D the old-fashioned way - sunshine! - is an excellent boost for your body and mood. If you can’t distance safely outside or access nature, try to find a grassy space and do some grounding. Even opening your window can be helpful!
Curating your space
keeping up your standards for tidying has loads of benefits. The feeling of loneliness is closely associated with a loss of control, and finding ways to assert yourself over your environment can be very helpful at a time when you aren’t able to change the isolation restrictions. Taking on doable home projects like rearranging furniture, painting the walls a different color, or bringing some new plant friends into your home are accomplishable goals!
Support for stress
My go-to calming herbal tea blend is getting a workout right now! Soothing herbs like chamomile, lavender, and passionflower are a good place to start. Another great way to help remedy tension is through adaptogens, which are plants and medicinal mushrooms that help our bodies better adapt to stress. Ashwagandha is a great option for pandemic-related mental or emotional struggles; you can use it either on its own, or in supplements with other beneficial components that harmonize together to provide relief for stress and feelings of anxiousness.