You may have noticed that Government guidance during lockdowns is about enjoying entertainment and having connection within social bubbles. But what if you are living alone in your very own social bubble during lockdown restrictions?
Over the summer, we saw news footage of outdoor concerts and music festivals where groups of social bubbles were spaced out in areas apart from one another. These were events very much designed for family bubbles or social pods.
It may have been a welcome change for festival-goers to have the opportunity to sit down and have their own space instead of being crammed shoulder-to-shoulder. However, for someone currently riding out the lockdown during winter with no social bubble and no outdoor events running, we have to look at other ways to make connections and keep active in both body and mind.
Physical distancing doesn’t mean social distancing
Most Solos are fine being alone. We are okay about going out and doing things on our own. We are used to being on our own, but this pandemic and the lockdown may be placing an extra layer of aloneness on us that we were not feeling before.
On the positive side, we have seen some amazingly creative attempts at bringing back events for people to enjoy and have a shared experience as a collective.
One very clever idea in the USA was the Haunt ’O Ween LA event in Woodland Hills. They took the concept of a drive-through plan that you would see in wildlife parks and made a spooky Covid-safe Halloween event, by having people self-drive through a course of elaborately designed show sets.
The creators said they wanted solo drivers to feel welcome, but wanted to restore a sense of imagination into their lives. They said, “Even if you’re alone in the vehicle, you’re still in a moment with hundreds of other people at the same time. Just because you can’t touch them, see them or be close to them doesn’t mean you can’t feed off that energy.”
Get social on social media
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more can be a helpful antidote for those of us in a solo social bubble. Due to the pandemic lockdown, there has been a huge spike in people spending time online.
Social media sites have proved invaluable to catch up on the news headlines, visit favourite brands and hang out with friends because we are unable to do that in real life at the moment. Connecting virtually across all platforms has seen a 46% increase compared to the same period last year, according to ComScore. Zoom and Skype user numbers have also skyrocketed since the pandemic began.
During the lockdown, we are likely to see more solo people without a social bubble utilising social media channels to stay in touch with their family and friends and to feel connected more than ever before.
A couple of sites we recommend you join are our own, Solo Living Facebook Groups – Super Solos Living Alone Community and Solo Dining and a Table For One. They are fabulous groups to join and share great conversation with like-minded Solo’s who may also be in their own social bubble.
Join in with live-stream events
Even if you are staying at home, the sense of life going on around you is still there, even if it is physically distanced. Our connection to the arts and entertainment still exists, and it’s just as powerful as it was before the pandemic.
Although most of this year’s major concerts and events have been cancelled, it doesn’t mean you can’t watch events online from the comfort of your own home – in real-time.
Entertainment creators have now realised that they need to meet their audience where they are instead of drawing their audience to a physical venue. The level of live-stream events during lockdown is expected to explode once again, which is hopeful news for Solo’s at home because you can still be part of the crowd without the need to be present at the event.
With many live-stream events, you have the opportunity to join in with the conversation. You can jump in with your comments at any time, and strike up a conversation with people, have a debate or get answers to questions that you have always wondered about.
Events you can live stream from home include classical concerts from the London Symphony Orchestra, live podcasts and Q&A sessions from The Cosmic Shambles Network, and even online wine tasting where you can have the wines sent to you. Then you partake in a live wine tasting event in real-time with others.
Organise a virtual fundraiser
This is an extraordinary time for most of us, but especially for our favourite charities where their fundraising efforts are going to be seriously impacted by the lockdown.
So why not organise a virtual fundraiser from the comfort of your own home? Doing so will not only help raise much-needed money for your favourite charity but will also give you something positive to do with your time at home as well as maintain and strengthen your social connections with others.
The possibilities are endless, so why not choose something that is fun and inclusive that your friends and family can join in with online, such as a virtual pub quiz for example – a great way to stay in touch with your loved ones while raising money for a good cause.
The Mental Health Foundation have created quiz sheets you can use for your virtual pub quiz, for example, if you fancy a movie theme quiz, a music theme quiz, or fancy challenging yourself with a decades quiz theme, the hardest part is already done for you!
If pub quizzes are not your thing, then how about a virtual Tea & Talk event where you can sign up online with MHF and invite friends, family and colleagues to join you for a cuppa. Each person can donate a set amount or whatever they can afford.
If you fancy something stronger than tea, then why not host a drinks fundraiser where your guests can donate the price of their favourite drink to take part. If you are missing your favourite curry night and gossip with your friends, why not hold one of those and let your guests donate what they feel like.
Are you missing the gym? Set up a plank challenge with your friends where you join together online each day and attempt to hold a plank for a little longer each day. You can virtually warm-up and stretch with your friends beforehand and catch up with a bit of gossip.
The challenge could be to reach 30 days and be able to hold a plank for three minutes by the end of the month. Your friends and family can sponsor you a set amount for every minute you can hold a plank at the end of 30 days.
Get better at being alone
The lockdown can actually be quite cathartic for a lot of us. It gives us a welcome break from our busy and often exhausting daily routines. Why not take this opportunity to use this time of solitude to allow yourself to develop personally and get better with being alone.
Use the free time you now have on your hands to get to know yourself better. Without the need to please others around you, or be influenced by someone else’s opinions, this is the perfect time to get to know your likes and dislikes.
If you have always eaten scrambled eggs because your BFF loves them, now is the time to find out if you prefer your eggs poached, boiled or fried. Time alone can also tell you a lot about your friends and which ones are your true friends who value you for who you are and what you like, rather than forcing their views, likes and dislikes onto you to and influence your decisions.
You can also use this time to record your true thoughts about what you have learned about yourself during the last lockdown and the current one by writing in a diary each night. Journaling is a great way to help you process your emotions and give yourself some clarity about what changes you may want to make in your life, free from any influence from others.
Work on your self-care
Dealing with the dramatic change to your world can be difficult during this time. However, your outlook can be significantly improved by working on your self-care. If you have been previously sceptical about trying something like meditation, then now is the perfect time to try it out and see how it makes you feel.
There are plenty of guided meditation courses you can follow online, either streamed for free or to join in real-time. While both options are good, real-time guided courses give you an added sense of unity as you will be sharing your time with potentially hundreds of people taking part from around the world.
Meditation is an excellent way for you to learn to accept how you feel, how your body feels, and understand the thoughts that pass through your mind. It is a very calming and grounding experience that is both relaxing and energising at the same time.
Meditating before you go to bed can help you wake up with a great sense of purpose in the morning with a clear head and sharper mental focus.
Doing some meditation or deep breathing exercises can be very motivating and will help you to focus on tasks to help keep you busy during the lockdown.
Be kind to yourself and others
Remember that you are not the only one that may be in a solo social bubble. If you have any single friends in your network without a social bubble, or friends that separated from their family or regular social bubble due to travel restrictions; then be compassionate towards them as they try and mentally navigate this extraordinary situation.
While you are living alone accept that you may need a bit more social connection for your own mental and emotional health right now, so reach out to others in the same situation so you can help each other through these times. This will help you to get through winter with better psychological health.