making it easier and even fun!
Lockdown’s back and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be going away soon. If you are living alone it is understandable that things are tough right now. The current situation is so hard for you. I get it. And I want to make it easier for you.
In my last Facebook live (Which you can see here) I talked about how to stay sane in isolation. We have been here for 10 months and counting and doing an okay job of dealing with it. However, one of my audience asked for some specific tips for people living alone. So without further ado here are a few of the tips that have been working for my clients living alone in lockdown.
Let’s cut the blah blah and get straight down to what you can do to make this time easier and maybe even fun!
This is not going to be popular so let’s get it over and done with. First and foremost you have to accept this is the way the world is right now. If you spend your time thinking about how much better it used to be or how it will be when the world goes back to normal all you are doing is increasing your frustration and negative mindset. Life is still going on even though you are home. You are still alive. This situation will change, life is funny like that. However, before then you are still alive. So don’t exist. Live!
Try this thought shift.
Instead of thinking when this is done things will be better, thinking being at home gives me the opportunity to do/feel/have ………………………… that I didn’t have before.
Be realistic in your expectations about when this will end and you can come out. My Mum used to say plan for the worst, hope for the best. With this virus so much is unknown it is hard to manage our expectations of what is going to happen and when. What I have found it really helpful to add a month or two to when I expect to be able to do things. So for example the projection for me getting the vaccine before Christmas was March so I set my expectation to April or May. Now it’s been confirmed that I will get the virus at the end of March. Which has really raised my spirits. It’s like a surprise gift. It works for me, it might work for you.
Change your environment
Looking at the same four walls is driving us all bonkers. Especially if you are living in a one room flat. Something has worked for my clients is to designate areas for certain activities and points in the day. In day to day life we change our locations based on tasks and activities. We also change our clothes due to the same. Think about your activities on a daily bases. What do you wear and what do you need to do that activity. Then designate areas in your room to do different things. In my office I have a place for work, a place for yoga and a place to chillout and have snacks. It helps me to attach a mental state to the location. The same with clothes. When I am at work online, I have work clothes, when I am not at work I change my clothes. These subtle shifts help us to change our mindset. Another simple trick to change your environment is to air out the room every day to clear the mind and give you some fresh oxygen!
Identify your key people
Knowing who you can count on and who boosts your energy is always important, even more so during isolation. Make a list of your 10 key people who are not only people you would like to be able to spend time with but will also give you the emotional support you need during the isolation period. It is good to have a few people in the mix that are great at distracting you and making you laugh.
Be proactive in connecting on line
We need to connect, Covid has underlined that for us all. And we have this great technology that allows us to do that. Phone. Facebook. Skype. Zoom. Discord. Slack. Whatsapp. The possibilities are endless. And many are free. If you are living alone you will need more contact with people. It’s a fact. As much as we love each other we are all of us often living in our own little bubble. Which means people might not think to initiate contact or organise video chats or events. So be proactive. Organise an event, create a lunch date online, ask a friend or colleague to have a zoom room open so you can work simultaneously together online as you would in the classroom or office. (In this scenario you can both be on mute and then un mute if you want to brainstorm or have a coffee break). You can even have a walk with someone on video. (Just keep an eye open to be safe of course).
I know that for introverts this can be a challenge. My advice is still to be proactive and keep it simple. Make a video chat date with someone you really trust and plan an activity. Crafting, eating, a game. Having a planned activity makes the communication easier.
Here are some ideas of activities you can do online:
Make online connections sensory experiences
When we meet in person it is a full sensory experience which is one of the reasons an online experience can feel 2d as it limits our sensory input. However we can amplify the experience to involve the senses more in a virtual meeting. For example when I take online client calls I put on perfume, it makes me feel professional. When I was having a chill out pampering session with a girlfriend lighting candles and her background music set the mood, despite the fact we were sitting in our own homes with facemasks on a call. Think how you can stimulate your senses to enhance your virtual meetups.
Do a daily mental health check
This situation is putting undisputable pressure on our mental health. It is so, so, so important that we check in with ourselves on a daily basis to maintain our mental health and boost our resilience. Use this checklist to help you check in with yourself every day
- Did I remember to eat 3 meals yesterday?
- Have I slept well?
- Am I remembering to have a shower, brush my teeth etc?
- When did I last talk with a friend or loved one?
- Have I been moving my body?
- Have I been binge watching ?
- Have I cried?
- How motivated am I feeling from 1-10?
- How lonely do I feel from 1-10?
- Have I taken a walk this week?
- Have I laughed this week?
- Have I cleaned my house in the last week?
For any of the questions if you have answered no then try to make that your focus. You are answering no to more than 6 of these questions. It may be a sign that you need to reach out to get some help for your mental health.
You can also use a well being checklist to help you do activities that will boost your mental health. Here are some for inspiration
Keep a routine and standards
When lockdown first happened we all rejoiced that we could finally wear pjs to school or work. However, as time went on the novelty wore off. With the amount of changes and uncertainty in the world right now we need things we are able to control to help us feel safe. Our standards of living are one of the things we can control. Get dressed for work. Lay the table for dinner. Make keeping your living space tidy (and clean). You will need these habits when life changes back to the new normal so keep practicing them now. A week in lockdown is not one long sunday. It is the normal week in a different location. Standards will help you feel proud and that is going to help you feel happier.
Know what you can and can’t control.
There is a lot we cannot control right now. In order to calm the worry down, get clear on what you can and can’t control. On a piece of paper draw two circles as in this picture. The central circle is what you can control and the outer what you can’t. Focus your energy on the things you can control.
Simplify life and planning
Going back to what we can control and can’t long term plans are pretty much out of the window. It’s time to simplify in life and in goal setting. Simplify your planning with simple time management techniques and take one day at a time.
With the vaccine coming out gods willing we should hopefully have more certainty by Summer. In the meantime make 2 month plans instead of 6 months or a year. Make a daily todo and simplify it to the most important tasks only.
Homemade adventures and projects
One of the things that makes life lovely is having something we feel passionate and excited about. I love adventures but obviously going out and about is not possible right now. So this summer I made travel evenings by decorating my dinning table as a different country and tried recipes from spain, china and france, with music in the background. It help lift our spirits. Another thing that helped was pillow forts. And visiting local nature in walking distance with a picnic. Little adventures but just as fun as the big ones!
And projects. Lock down is giving us ample time to really try something new. Thank gods for the internet and google. Give yourself a lockdown project that you can achieve in 2 months. I have completely redecorated a few rooms at home and spent time learning new NLP skills during lockdown. A sense of achievement creates happy hormones and we all need those right now! Homemade adventures are fun and it will unlock your inner child. Their imagination is way better than our adult brains so let your inner child and a sense of play guide you in your projects and adventures at home.
Reach out if you need it
And of course I cannot end without reiterating the importance of reaching out for help if your mental health is deteriorating. It can be tough to ask for help. But right now EVERYONE gets it. We are all in this together. So albeit a loved one, a friend, a colleague, a stranger or an organisation please do reach out if this is all too overwhelming. Here is a guide to asking for help if you struggle with it.
There really is alot you can do to make this situation easier to bear and maybe a little fun. Remember you have control of your actions, don’t you?
What have you been trying to make lockdown bearable and happier?
Please let us know in the comments below so we can inspire each other
Take care, stay safe and remember we are in this together and we will see each other on the other side of this.
Big virtual hugs
Here are some more links that might inspire you