For the last 3 months restrictions on exercise, work and how we live our day to day lives have been in place to protect us against the biggest threat currently facing the globe – Coronavirus. Through uncertain times we have seen both the best of people and the struggles many have faced adapting to the harsh realities of lockdown. Amongst our Solo Living Community, there were legitimate concerns about the effects these restrictions would have on our wellbeing and mental health. Over the weeks we have seen that in fact, many Solos who live alone have adapted a little too well and are thriving under the current circumstances.
Recently, the government has laid out its plan to start easing restrictions, allowing for more socialising with loved ones and returning to work. For the last 11 weeks, we have been adapting to our ‘new normals’, and now that strict lockdown rules are slowly coming to an end there is a chance we are becoming protective and hesitant to let go of our newfound normals and accept a rebranded ‘new normal’.
Before we go on, let’s take a moment to reflect back on how far we have come during the lockdown. How many of us spent days after the lockdown enforced anxiously upon us, pondering how our lives would look confined to our own household. Effectively being told we could not come into physical contact with someone unless it was essential. Relying on a computer screen to see family or friends and to top it off; where we lived would now be the place where we would work (unless of course, being a keyworker).
Those of us with office jobs faced an undetermined amount of time within our own four walls other than to exercise for an hour or to buy essential food and supplies. Daunting wasn’t it? As much as we like to think no one is alone within the Solo Living Community, it’s harder to practise than to preach. No doubt, it’s had its moments with both highs and lows but we are hearing more of people living alone who are now thriving during the lockdown. People are developing resilience, building habits and routines to enrich and empower their lives and connecting with themselves on a level they never have done before.
Could it be that those of us who have adapted and accepted this new way of socially distant living, are thriving in ways we may find difficult to give up when social and cultural expectations are resumed?
As lockdown began, questions were being raised over the wellbeing of the nation. How would people cope without feeling connected to others? How would those of us living alone cope with such long periods of alone time? Turns out, for many of us, we are coping pretty well, a little too well. The Huffpost showcased some brilliant examples of how some Solos are making the most of their time in lockdown. With ample time some of us have enjoyed, we’ve taken steps to live in happier, healthier, or more sustainable and environmentally friendly ways. People have made positive changes to their lives that were once before considered simply pipeline dreams. Take Curly Girl Living In Paris. The House of Wellness reported on how she started her own cookery show whilst living alone in France.
Now that life is slowly beginning to return to normal are we ready to go back to how it was?
With headlines coming out almost daily informing us of new social distancing measures, guidelines for meeting up in public spaces and the go-ahead for businesses to start warming back up again – people are likely to slowly start slipping back into their old habits. This is great… if it is what you want to do. However, for some of us, the sudden expectation to start showing up to social meetups, to liaise with colleagues or to work the Monday – Friday 9 to 5 pattern is reigniting a similar anxiety felt when we were sitting watching the Prime Minister’s broadcast back in March.
So what can we do to ease anxious feelings about the restrictions and continue to thrive as lockdown eases?
Define your own boundaries
Now you’ve made positive changes and are reaping the benefits it can be hard to think about letting some of them go. Spend some time thinking about the elements of your lifestyle you definitely don’t want to give up, the parts you’re happy to change and everything in between. Defining your own boundaries will help establish some key parts of your day or week where you can start to factor in things like when you want to catch up with friends and loved ones. Identify areas that you know are ‘no change’ zones. If you have to return to the office it may be worthwhile writing out a rough structure to how you want your weeks to look – blocking out work time, no change times and times when you can be free for others.
Seems quite simple, but planning ahead can be really effective in helping to soothe some of those worries meeting up with people post coronavirus lockdown can bring. If you’re meeting someone out in an open space be realistic about how busy it might be, if the weather is good and the times when places like parks and beaches are likely to be busy. Have a think about some alternative ways that you can see people without worrying about the crowds. Consider a social distancing walk on some trails or meeting up outside of peak times such as early in the morning or in the evening.
Be kind to yourself
Don’t feel you have to jump in feet first to the easing of restrictions. At the end of the day, they are guidelines, not instructions. If you do not feel ready, or simply, do not want to start meeting up with friends or opening up your social calendar you don’t have to. Look at starting to meet with immediate family and friends once or twice a week. During lockdown you have built up some incredible self-resilience, spending time connecting with yourself or just learning to become ‘accountable to you’ rather than what you think others expect of you. It can be difficult when faced with the pressure to uphold the expectations of others, especially when they know you. Take things slowly and at a pace you are comfortable with.
Some of us may have already started to build mindfulness into our daily routines, but if you haven’t, practising some guided meditation can help to not only notice and observe worries but meditation also provides an opportunity to put things into place to alleviate them. With news and social media platforms continuously reporting on the effects of Coronavirus, it is easy to take on some tension without even realising it.
Remember you’re not alone
Lots of people are feeling uncertain about the easing of restrictions, maybe even distrustful of the decision to ease them at the rate they are occurring. It is more than likely people you know are going through the same thoughts and feelings that you are and would be understanding about waiting a little longer before a face to face catch up.
Just because lockdown might be coming to an end doesn’t mean we have to stop thriving at living alone. We might just need to redefine our newest normal and make decisions over what it means and how important it is to us.
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