Learn how to look after your mental health if you are isolating on your own
Living alone, even if it’s what you normally love the freedom it brings, can occasionally feel lonely. During the lockdown it presents particular challenges as the usual groups and activities that keep us social have been suddenly taken away. So, in these very testing times, whether you have chosen to live alone, are in quarantine or self-isolating, how can you make sure you stay happy and healthy?
Stick to a routine
Human beings are goal-driven – and even if the goal is simply to get to work on time each morning, it still motivates us. Now that so many of us don’t have this, it’s still really important to try to stick to a routine. Without it, we can easily descend into bad habits. So get up at the same time, maybe do a workout first thing to raise your mood, eat meals at regular times and write a plan at the end of each day for what you are going to do tomorrow day.
Reap the benefits of exercise
If you’re not in quarantine or self-isolating, make sure you get outside for exercise every day: walk, jog, cycle, hula hoop, whatever you prefer. If possible, get to a green space with trees – research has shown that being with nature helps to stave off depression and exercise releases endorphins in the brain that raise mood, not to mention keeping you fit and healthy!
Use the time to get creative
Think about something you’ve always wanted to do more of and do it. Most interests and activities can be catered for with online courses, social groups, and any necessary materials can also be ordered online. So whatever it is, painting, knitting, learning to play an instrument, learning a language, now’s the time! There are even online dance or karate classes.
Look into volunteering
Nothing makes us feel that we are doing something worthwhile quite like volunteering to help others. So if you are not self-isolating or in quarantine, have a look online to see what charities need help near you or sign up as an NHS Volunteer Responder. You can help with grocery and medical supply deliveries or just make phone calls to isolated people for a friendly chat. To find out more go to goodsamapp.org.
Technology has really come into its own during this difficult time, and helps us to stay connected and to feel less isolated. You could create a Whatsapp group for your street or apartment block. Drop a note through everyone’s door and ask them to message you if they want to join – you can all support each other and look forward to a time when you can have a big community celebration! Early days I know, but you could even start planning it together. It’s great to have something to look forward to and a project to work on.
You could even have a theme, like “ Beach Party” or “70’s night” and dress up to meet online. And hey, why not bring a bottle of wine if you fancy! Another idea is to log in to online pub quizzes – there are lots of these running now; many raise money for charity. Get a team together with friends if you can.
Limit your viewing time
Naturally, most of us want to keep up to date with what is happening at home and around the world, but this can make us feel quite down and even induce feelings of helplessness or panic. So limit the length of time that you spend watching the news and other programs about covid-19.
Take it one day at a time
When we live alone, it’s easy to get into a pattern of negative thinking, but try not to dwell on how long the lockdown might last and take one day at a time. Congratulate yourself for doing the best you could at end of every day.
Finally, if you are really struggling, reach out and ask for help. Whether this is from a neighbour, a friend, a family member or a charity like Samaritans, there are many people who are there to help you.