Anxiety Insights: Me, Myself and I, Alone But Not Lonely in a Pandemic
Updated: Dec 20, 2020
I was positive 2020 was going to be the best year ever. The last few weeks of December 2019 I was feeling depressed and unmotivated. I told myself it was okay to just ride it out because next year was truly going to be something special, I could just feel the energy and excitement of the new challenges and opportunities.
I do not think I could have been more on target and yet more wrong at the same time! The past few months have really delivered challenges and opportunities. I never imagined a global pandemic. Before this “allegedly” great year brimming with possibilities barely made it through the first quarter, seemingly overnight I found myself locked in my home, living in fear of getting sick and isolated from family and friends. As the shock has worn off the past few months, I have started to see the silver lining emerge from the cloud of disruption, isolation, panic, and confusion. I am in my mid-50’s, divorced and live in New York. My grown children live in South Carolina and Chicago, so I live alone.
I am an extrovert who loves being around people and going out on the weekends with friends to listen to local bands, explore wineries, take trips to the city to see a Broadway show, going to casinos, or just having friends over for a campfire in the backyard. I also really enjoy my down time. My alone time. But I am sure you might agree, if you are single, that the Coronavirus has taken this “alone thing” a little too far.
At first, I was thinking this could be cool. Work from home, live in my pajamas, plenty of time to do the things I never have time to do. I thought I would eat healthy, exercise, and learn a new hobby. In reality, working from home in my comfy clothes was nice when I thought it was going to be a few weeks, then it became months. I did not eat healthier. I did not exercise. I did not learn a new hobby. They all sounded great, but although I had the time, I did not have the motivation.
I realized I was putting too much pressure on myself to transform my life which led to a sense of being overwhelmed. Resulting in more stress which fueled even less action. It is okay not to do anything if you are overwhelmed, but when you are ready, I recommend you give thought to trying some overdue self-care. This was true for me; it might be for you too. Treat myself with more kindness and compassion.
I asked myself, what would it look like if I treated myself with the same compassion and care I would give someone I love? What would I do for or with that person? Then I did those things. Things I enjoyed, not things I was supposed to do. Not things I had to do, but things I wanted to do. Things for me.
It helped my mental health, decreased my stress and loneliness, and helped me connect with my creativity. Here are activities I tried and some new ideas for self-expression and self-care while living the single life in a once in a lifetime quarantine (no pressure, just suggestions):
· Schedule an appointment with a therapist using Tele-therapy.
· Engage with an on-line life or exercise coach.
· Form a book club with friends and meet on Zoom to discuss the book.
· Plan a ME night. Order a nice dinner to go, get dressed up, set the table, light some candles, and watch your favorite movie or read a good book.
· Take a bath while listening to music; maybe add a glass of wine.
· Start journaling. It is a great way to discover yourself and process your feelings.
· Download a meditation app and set aside regular times to practice.
· Order a home meal kit and make yourself a special dinner (I cannot cook, yet the meals turn out great). You do not have to go to the store, and you get to try new dishes with no hassle.
· Sign up for a Zoom live yoga class. Exercise and meet new people.
· Pursue something you never thought you would – take an online painting class, learn to play an instrument, or learn a language (someday we might be able to travel again).
· Express yourself – write a book, poem, song or a good old fashion letter to friends and family.
· Gather all those photos you love and make a scrapbook for yourself or as a gift.
· Try a home improvement project – my daughter discovered she has a real hidden talent for this.
· Try an online dating app. They are busier than ever and since you cannot meet in person there is a unique opportunity to have actual conversations without the face to face pressure.
· Go to a shelter and adopt a pet. They are great company.
· Plan a home spa day. Paint your nails, give yourself a facial and touch up those roots or dye your hair some new completely different color. Have fun.
· Learn how to make wine or home brewed beer. Practice till perfect, then you can invite friends over to enjoy once that is a thing again.
· Plant a garden or planter boxes. Flowers, fresh vegetables, or spices.
· Take a walk while listening to an audio book.
Taking time to get in touch or back in touch with yourself, your interests and your dreams is a gift you can give yourself. To live your best life, you need to be healthy. Overall health is only possible if it includes physical and mental health. Take care of your mind and body because something tells me 2020 is not done with us yet. Resiliency, compassion and understanding for ourselves and others is the way forward and perhaps the essential lesson for us to carry forward from this experience.