Hacks to Help Singles Boost Quarantine Resilience

Try these coping strategies for navigating the new normal to be alone, but not lonely.

Courtesy of Emily Kasriel

Staying home for an extended period is hard enough, as this recent study from medical journal The Lancet shows, but there are extra challenges for people living on their own without others for company and to help them navigate quarantine. The good news is that there are several hacks you can rely on to help you optimize this situation.

Living alone in normal times can feel like a sanctuary from the demands of work and social life. Single living is a growing global trend; this study shows there are over 36 million single-person households in the U.S. But when your friends and co-workers are all on the outside, living without human contact, plus all the unsettling news, can chip away at your wellbeing. But we need to remind ourselves that we are not really alone, but experiencing the pandemic together, that this situation is temporary, and to focus on the emerging positive news.

These strategies aim to help you optimize your resourcefulness. Journalist Francesca Specter is one person who wants to show that solitude doesn't have to equal loneliness. She has coined the word "alonement" to describe valuing the time you spend alone, now a podcast too:

Continue with your routine
Reminding yourself that some things in your life are still the same, can help keep your brain organized and soothed by the rituals you've used to feel anchored.

Some singletons keep their alarm on as if they're commuting to work, or make a to-do list of the things they want to achieve each day to create a sense of normality and productivity. Scheduling regular meet-ups can help. Arrange a virtual happy hour with friends to discuss worries and hopes, and be reminded of how funny and supportive your friends can be.

It's important to take care of your health by sticking to sleep routines and working out regularly. Use your time wisely. Fitness athlete, Kirsty Godso told Marie Claire about keeping some form of routine:"Are excessive Facetimes or 1pm live-stream Instagram workouts something you'd normally do on a workday? No. Keep some boundaries in place - time is energy."

Work on making meaningful connections on your phone or video apps
Though you can't meet family and friends, don't always reach for a video call, a simple phone call can be best. Why? Research suggests we might be better at detecting someone else's emotions just by listening carefully to them. Value the power of periods of silence when you can feel close to the person on the line.

Although, as the above BBC article suggests, increasing eye contact can secure the attention of others, video calls have their own challenges. One is that the camera is positioned at the edge of the screen on many devices, forcing us to choose between looking someone in the eye and reading signals that are nonverbal, like a curious face. Workarounds include hiding your self view so you don't get distracted by your own face.

Listen to fellow home alone people telling it like it is
A problem shared is a problem halved, so it makes sense to listen to the experiences of others going through quarantine on their own, and to tell your story too. Singer Rita Ora has shared her delight that her new single, How To Be Lonely is helping people home alone.

UK singer and actress, Emily Atack, has been open about the challenges of being single in lockdown. She misses human contact,  and would give anything to have a row with a husband right now, and has felt a "crushing anxiety" at times. Her advice? Accept that Instagram-perfect isolation is not a reality, and stay upbeat.

Journalist and single mom, Tanzina Vega, told the New York Times about her struggles isolating with her newborn. But Vega has become more open to accepting help from others, whether its "shopping or lullabies sung over the phone to calm her crying baby AND her frayed nerves." She also shares that "being alone with my son has let us bond in ways that I couldn't have imagined. We've visited family via video chats and shared lots (and lots!) of snuggles and smiles."
Reach out to others
Thinking about others can take the focus away from your own challenges. Be more proactive in reaching out to friends, co-workers and members of your family needing a break from their stress.

Tech offers multiple ways to socially connect. You can commiserate with other single people in quarantine on social media or meet over meals using platforms like Skype or Google Hangouts, and even join a virtual singles event. Netflix Party is a Chrome extension letting you stream movies and TV shows in sync with friends, sharing jokes in its chatroom while you watch.

If you're not in strict isolation, offering to help people in need by running errands can give you a sense of purpose and remind you that you're part of a community.

There's an app for that!
Most of us have seen the power of social media with friends and families staying connected thanks to apps like Zoom and Houseparty recently.

But some new apps are here to help people on their own. Free app, QuarantineChat is one of these. Its founders say it fills a gap as the experience of spontaneously talking to a stranger is now missing from many of our lives. Quarantine Buddy is a website with a similar goal set up by Cornell students struck by how many people were posting about their loneliness.

Several dating apps have reported increased usage from people in quarantine with some saying that the longer conversations in lockdown help weed out people who aren't seeking a real connection!

If you need psychological support, there are helplines staffed by mental health pros. In the UK, mental health charity, Mind, offers an online peer support community, Elefriends. The Talkspace app matches people in the U.S. with a licensed therapist at discounted rates.

And do things that make you happy!
This is also the time to prioritize self-care. Enjoy ice cream for breakfast and dance around the living room to your favorite music. Seek out comedies, GIFs and memes to add joy to your life and if WFM, be sure to unwind.

Artist Max Siedentopf offers a comical Home Alone Survival Guide to help you shatter the quiet as you LOL!

Think about activities you can do from home as part of planning life after Coronavirus. Admit that your hobbies were just eating out and spending money on non-essential items! Now's the time to learn a new language or upgrade your cooking skills.

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