Do you know what? It is OK to be alone right now. Being comfortable in your own company can be difficult at times, but especially now during the COVID-19 lockdown when you have no other choice. There are things you can do to make it feel a little easier on yourself. One way is by building a friendship with solitude during the lockdown.
While it can be a huge emotional strain to be social distancing from your friends and family, you are not alone in doing this – and actually, as a solo living alone, you may well be far better equipped to handle the solitude and make the most of it with a greater sense of ease than someone that is not used to being alone.
Be comfortable with being alone
Becoming comfortable with being alone is a valuable skill that anyone can cultivate under the current circumstances. How we frame our thoughts and change our perspective will help us to stay positive and happy in our own company over the coming weeks.
Firstly, let’s make a distinction between being alone, solitude, and loneliness. While there is an obvious overlap between these three things, each will have a different solution.
Generally speaking, being alone means being by yourself, physically. Solitude can be described as being in a subjective state of mind where you are isolating yourself from the input from other people’s minds and distractions. For example, when you use your mind in solitude to solve a problem without any help or suggestions from other people. Loneliness is more of an emotional feeling of social disconnection and that you can experience regardless of whether you are alone or in company.
You have heard the saying you can be lonely in a crowd. You can feel lonely living in a bustling city, or even when starting a new job where you don’t know anyone and have no one to talk to.
Building A Friendship With Solitude During Lockdown
Solitude can be your friend
No matter how lonely we may feel or how worried we are about being alone at this time, sometimes our spirit craves after a bit of solitude. It can be blissfully peaceful to switch off your smartphone, step away from social media and turn off the news on TV to just let your mind be still and allow your head to wallow in a bit of peace and quiet.
At this time you are not the only one trying to figure out how to keep a safe distance from others. Just about everyone is feeling a little emotionally vulnerable, so while it makes complete sense to stay connected with our friends and family through technology, it is still also okay to take a break and escape into your own head-space, effectively isolating your mind.
Prioritising your contact
Keeping up your communications and connectedness with others is important at this time, but try to prioritise the quality of your contact over the quantity. While it can be very cathartic to spend a couple of hours face timing with your best friend over a couple of beers, remember there will always be people to talk to when you feel the need.
It can take up a lot of your time, energy and emotions to stay in contact with the people on your list. However, don’t feel compelled to do this every single day. Instead, it may be worthwhile focusing your energy into deepening bonds with your most established relationships rather than try to catch up with vague acquaintances you rarely speak to normally anyway.
An important part of strengthening your solitude skills is to learn to control your contact with the outside world. You can do this by prioritising space for your mind to feel comfortable alone, in actual solitude, isolating from other minds and away from the constant distraction and chatter of the TV or radio.
Use positive affirmations
A popular article, Living Alone Comes With Luxurious Times Of Silence suggests you can indulge your senses and do exactly what you please, within current lockdown restriction guidelines of course.
Use your time alone to nurture and strengthen your solitude skills. While this won’t happen overnight, you will have plenty of time over the coming weeks to take small steps and achieve your ongoing goals.
We have all heard about the power of positive affirmations, but did you know that science is now helping prove that repeating positive affirmations to ourselves actually work? It’s true!
The Reticular Activating System
At the base of our skull, we have a bundle of nerves called the Reticular Activating System or RAS for short. This system actively works to filter out data, a bit like a bouncer on a nightclub door. The RAS decides what information enters your brain and subconscious.
It will filter out anything that doesn’t fit with your beliefs, so this is why we can easily dismiss information we suspect isn’t true instead of believing absolutely everything we are told or read about.
When you use positive affirmations regularly every day, your RAS will work hard to let in information, experiences and events that are positive, easy and fun! By repeating your affirmations every day, you are telling your RAS to create this positive state of mind for you.
If you really want to learn how to make your RAS work for you now that you have some time on your hands, check out Blaine Oelkers’s Tedx Talk on the RAS. Blaine’s talk explains how repeating your positive affirmations 100 times per day can work to programme your RAS to create a positive state of mind.
Intentionally embracing solitude
Accepting what you can and cannot control in the world around you at this time is important. There is no way around it. While it may take some time and practice to become more comfortable with solitude, it does help to be proactive about taking control of your solitude and deciding to plan for it.
Make a conscious choice to choose a time of day to be alone with your thoughts. To begin with, you can set a specific length of time to practice with. Make it your goal to gradually lengthen this time by a few minutes a day.
Learning some meditation techniques is a great way to help you feel more comfortable with your solitude. The Headspace app is a great way to help you get started if you are new to practising meditation.
Keeping your mind free
Being in solitude doesn’t mean sitting in silence and doing nothing. You can fill your times of solitude time with just about anything you enjoy that is fairly peaceful and repetitive.
For example, if you have always wanted to learn how to knit or crochet, then use solitude to learn these skills. If you enjoy a good jigsaw puzzle or a bit of cross-stitch or painting, then go for it! Whatever you choose should be something that you can do while escaping into your own mind and doesn’t need any input from others or outside sources.
You can make a whole list of things to do in solitude to mix things up a bit. This will help greatly to keep your hands busy and your mind at peace.
Try to remember that this virus will not last not forever and even though you are isolating solo, you’re not alone in this!