As we already know, being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely, and in 2020, the year of the pandemic, our resilience has really shone through. After months of social distancing, 2020 has been challenging for many people, yet everyone’s situation can look very different. For a realistic perspective, Solo Living wanted to ask Solos, what has it been like living alone during a pandemic?
While quarantining can feel especially isolating for those of us who enjoy being in company – which can also feel quite overwhelming; others have relished their time living in splendid isolation.
For those placed on furlough, for example, pandemic life has given some a chance to rediscover themselves, learn new skills, an opportunity for self-growth and to reach a heightened level of mindfulness.
Okay, so a lot of us may have taken to the sofa to binge-watch shows on Netflix while drinking gallons of tea, but we can be forgiven for our choices while living through such an extraordinary time in our history.
Are solo households overlooked?
What does tend to be an issue are Government guidelines over lockdown and the inability for those guidelines to consider those people who live alone. Public health authorities tend to get lost in the nuclear family dynamic of two parents with two kids. Solos are grateful for social bubbles and in Scotland, the chance to meet with friends during the day in cafes when it is allowed.
For example, in places like Canada, single-person households have become the most common type of living arrangement since 2016, according to Statistics Canada. Yet most public health messages are still based on families – overlooking single households. In the UK, around 8 million of the 27 million households are one-person households; while around a quarter of households are single-parent led.
Yet in many ways, Solos can be naturally more connected to others than couples. Solo dwellers make up such a diverse group; you will always find singles who want to remain living alone and those who don’t, who are divorced or widowed but still wanting some form of companionship.
You will also find introverts prizing their solitude, others who are natural extroverts thriving when socialising with others; and those in the middle who like to have fun but also relish the fact that they can retreat alone to their nest to rest and recharge in peace.
Naturally, forced isolation is affecting people living alone during the pandemic in different ways.
Living alone during a pandemic
With such a diverse membership, who better to ask about what it has been like to be living alone during a pandemic, than our merry band of people living solo, from our Super Solos Living Alone Community Facebook group?
We asked a few questions, and we left it to our Super Solos to respond how they wished:
- What has the experience of living alone during a pandemic been like for you? E.g. What have you learned about living alone? How have you managed and what’s been keeping you going?
- What have you done to make life a little easier for yourself?
- What have you been most grateful for in the past year? What has been precious to you?
Here are what our wonderful members in our Super Solos Living Alone Community had to say. We include their comments as they were written so you can experience the real feelings within their words.
I’ll preface this by saying that I got dumped in February. Then had a week’s holiday (was meant to be a romantic getaway) alone. So a lot of my time has been emotional.
What have you learned about yourself over the last year through living alone during a pandemic?
I’ve learned how inadequate I am with regards to living alone. I can’t cook, I’ve got no cleaning schedule, and I have no hobbies. I’m learning to stand on my own, discovering new things and starting to appreciate my freedoms.
What has the experience of living alone during a pandemic been like for you?
It’s been necessary, if not for the pandemic I would have jumped straight into the next relationship and not taken the time to look at myself.
What have you learned about living alone?
I’ve learned just how hard it can be, but also how liberating. I don’t need permission to go for a walk, etc…
How have you managed and what’s been keeping you going?
I’ve not coped well. My mental health has really suffered. I’m carrying on because I’ve got kids, I can’t stop.
What have you done to make life a little easier for yourself?
Joined a few Facebook groups like this one (Super Solos Facebook group), it’s my only real social outlet.
What have you been most grateful for in the past year?
Online shopping and the wealth of entertainment options online. I’d hate to imagine going through all of this when I was growing up.
What has been precious to you?
The kids. Simple as that. I’m sorry if my answers aren’t overly hopeful. I’m just not there right now.
I’m looking forward, having good and bad days. The bad days are still more often than good, but the good is starting to be more often.
It has really affected me negatively at times. The loneliness is sometimes hard to bear. But on the positive, I have learnt to survive on my own (for the first time, I was truly alone) and couldn’t do all the things that would help me in my grief journey.
I learned to navigate through all the problems I faced with the house, etc. It has been one problem after another. It has made me feel I am stronger than I know. Facebook has helped a lot as has online Zumba and Mindfulness. Also walking. It has also made me cook for myself. I am not great, but okay to get by.
My family have helped by phoning me meeting up for walks etc. and also neighbours have helped to get shopping when needed. This year has been particularly difficult and has had its share of highs and lows.
1. My self-preservation ability means I’ve built myself a little fortress over the years and that maybe I should start trying to build some closer relationships where I’m not on the periphery.
2. Loved the first lockdown, played to all my strengths, I still went out to work 2 days a week, so I had some normality. The sun was shining; I was in the lucky position of being able to sit in the sun and relax and take up a hobby (crochet) and felt like the rest of the world had slowed to my pace. I haven’t however enjoyed subsequent lockdowns and the tier system.
3. Being on my boat, (it’s not always an easy ride – storms etc.) My ability to find things to do ‘poddle around’… a few people around me on the marina that have really helped on the occasions I’ve seen them, and the little gifts they leave me which reminds me I am thought of by others a little bit.
Pleased to have my boy and having a support bubble has been invaluable. Like many, it’s given me time to stop and think and tune into myself. I am also far more comfortable with a day or two alone, and I’m pretty resilient.
I do believe that our Super Solos have coped waaaaaaay better than our married/couples counterparts. I think we are more resilient generally. We don’t have a partner who isn’t pulling their weight and who is disappointing you. We can flow with our own emotions without having somebody else’s emotions to deal with.
Swings and roundabouts, but I’m pleased I’m locked down on my own rather than with some of my friend’s husbands.
This year has actually been one of the best of my life in a lot of ways. I started living on my own two months before the pandemic began, so pretty much my entire experience of living solo has been during the pandemic.
It has given me the space to learn to make time for myself and love myself. I took time to heal from my last relationship without feeling the pressure to meet someone new, and I started writing my blog and my novel. This made me realise writing is what I want to do with my life, so I’m going back to uni in 2021 to get my masters in literature.
For the first time in my life, I know I need to fight and be responsible for my own happiness without always relying on others.
The second half of this year, I turned a corner with my anxiety and depression which has been hard as this time last year, life was challenging and with the help of my therapist, GP and support network, I managed to turn a corner and started doing photography.
I have learnt I am stronger than I think, and I can cope being at home on my own by doing creative stuff, reading or watching box sets which I couldn’t have done before.
I am grateful for my family and friends and living in the present and enjoying life. I really love photography, especially taking the camera on my walks. I love the escapism and the joy of seeing the photos you have taken.
It may not seem like much, but I have been grateful for the weather during the lockdown, without the sunshine, I wouldn’t have been able to spend as much time outdoors growing fruit and veg this year. I wouldn’t have been able to stand outside and chat with family/friends.
I have discovered that I really don’t need as many ”things” in my life (except gardening stuff lol) I haven’t bought a single thing that wasn’t necessary (wine is necessary) I have spent precious time with my staffy who is fighting cancer… I have been less stressed in general, which is always a bonus.
It’s a shame it took a pandemic for me to appreciate these things when the choice has always been mine to make!
I got dumped unexpectedly, so have spent 2020 alone. But I have learnt so much about myself and now would recommend living alone to everyone, at least for a time, because you have no choice but to reassess everything!
I did “couch to 5k”, cut way down on booze and sugar, and in my panic at how life seemed to be turning out, sought out all the positive things instead. Focusing on my adult kids’ needs really kept me centred.
But one thing I will say – I have found it so hard to deal alone with techie things going wrong and breakdowns of my boiler, car, electrical goods, computer, etc. especially during the lockdown. It’s a steep learning curve, but I can now repressurise a boiler, bleed radiators, etc. lol. Forgive me, I know it’s slightly pathetic but I’m proud of myself!!!!
I have learned that the few friends I have really matter more than anything. I have learned that I am resilient and have learned how to do my job in several different ways.
I’ve lived alone for some time, so perhaps I was more ready for the isolation than some. I realised I was happier locked down alone than with the wrong person. And I realised I am not alone. I may have few friends but those I have care, and they are infinitely precious.
I have eaten too much; I have drunk too much. I have enjoyed outdoor walks and re-discovered the magic of nature, and the calming, healing effects of the sea air. I have been grateful for the technology that has kept us connected in a way that would not have been possible in past ages.
I’ve enjoyed learning. I’ve enjoyed hearing the birds sing. I’ve enjoyed books, music, and online shows. I have now seen every Shakespeare play. I’ve learned overall that whatever plans we have, anything can happen. I’ve learned the value of good health. And I am so grateful to be well.
I’ve learnt to be grateful for the smallest most meaningful things in life, the value and benefits of getting out in nature (birds, sunshine, flowers) the true meaning of friendships, taking up hobbies like reading again and cooking good wholesome food.
My experience so far this year has not only been coping with being more alone than usual but also dealing with grieving for the loss of my mum, whom I cared for 7 years with dementia. I’ve felt a massive void in my life, then getting Covid myself and being really poorly and in October being diagnosed with Ovarian cancer and having major surgery.
Through all that, I would not have coped without the amazing friends I have. It’s good to talk about how you feel to people you trust and have your back and not to suffer in silence…there is always someone to talk to be it friends or Samaritans. So I’ve learnt a lot about emotional resilience and looking after me for once.
I’m a nurse and always looking after the needs of others, and we often forget ourselves in the process. Self-care is important and necessary, and to come out of the rat race now and again. I get enormous benefits from reiki as well.
On the other hand, I’ve become less tolerant of people who just moan for no reason, I think maybe because of what I’ve had to cope with! Trivial things in life we can cope with and just get on with!!
I’m most grateful for happy memories, true friendships, love of my dogs, appreciative of good health and now wanting to fulfil my bucket list of travelling more and making the most of my life (when restrictions lift of course).
Ultimately, when we look back on 2020 and the impact of Covid-19, we will think of this as an extraordinary time, and our experience of living alone during the pandemic, as a time when we are hopefully gaining a better sense of ourselves.
Many of us are coming out of this stronger for the experience, and we should feel proud of the positive steps we are taking during this time. No-one is saying it is or has been easy. It hasn’t by any manner of means, and we cannot nor want to generalise about individual experiences. We have all found our own ways of coping and navigating through difficult times.
Many of us have been able to keep ourselves busy and focused with a new sense of freedom, while still complying with lockdown rules – all of which will come in very handy now that we are going into another lockdown. It wouldn’t be unfair to say our new found self-awareness has been a consequence of the restrictions placed on those of us living alone during a pandemic.
We are giving ourselves time to explore our passions or discover new ones, whether learning a new language, taking up a new hobby, making over our homes, discovering the nature on our doorsteps, improving our mindfulness or taking up meditation and yoga.
Living through the lockdown has enabled many of us to re-evaluate our lives and declutter our living spaces as well as our minds. We may have said goodbye to a lot of physical and mental baggage and realise that we don’t need so much ‘stuff’ in our lives as we first thought.
Going into 2021, while we cannot say when pandemic days and restrictions will be over; this is where we are now, and all we can do is look forward to and plan for better days, for our better, selves.