As we live during unprecedented times, for those of us living alone, it is more important than ever to take control of the things we are able to, and at the same time, self-care over our physical, mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus lockdown. The Covid-19 pandemic is something we have never encountered before – so it comes as no surprise that many of us may grapple with our mental health because of it. With the sudden change in circumstances, others may find it easier to wrap their minds around the impending impact. We all have different abilities and ways of coping with change. Undoubtedly for many of us, our ability to cope and adjust will be challenged in the weeks and months ahead.
With current measures in place, and a third of the global population living under social distancing measures, recent news tells us not to be surprised that lockdown may be extended even further. For solos and singles living alone during lockdown, we have to be aware of the possibility of being emotionally affected and the triggers which may induce stress, anxiety and depression – even though we are in the knowledge we are doing something positive to help contain the virus. While many of us may be accustomed to extended periods of time spent alone, this time in our lives feels different.
One way of taking control of our wellbeing is to actively step up and devise a self-care routine during the lockdown – helping us keep on top of things while safely spending time at home alone.
IDEAS TO INCLUDE IN A SELF-CARE ROUTINE – LIVING ALONE DURING LOCKDOWN
Here are some self-care ideas you can introduce to create structure and routine around your daily life during lockdown.
1 Add structure to your day
As the Coronavirus will be with us for a while, it can make us feel uncertain and out of control. This is why it is more important than ever to take care of your mental and physical health.
In normal times we are used to going through the motions of an everyday routine, so now is the time to set up a ‘new type of normal’ daily routine to follow whether we are working from home or not. This will help you to focus your mind on something other than checking the daily news and spending too much time worrying about it.
Giving yourself a daily routine can instil you with a sense of positivity and direction and a sense of hope that you will come out on the other side of this mentally stronger, and all going well, with a healthier body!
2 Stay connected to your support network
Just because you cannot visit your family and friends does not mean you cannot connect with them! Take some time each day to settle down with a large mug of tea or coffee and check-in with your family members and friends for a daily chat.
Use modern technology to messenger chat, video-chat or Skype with your family and best mates as often as you can and want. Being stuck at home doesn’t stop you from finding plenty of ways to chat with your nearest and dearest, and they will also benefit from a dose of your daily smile and positive messages.
3 Play together to stay together
Even if you are not particularly fond of gaming, some of your friends and family will love it if you spend some time with them playing their favourite games. Play FIFA with your cousin, WOW with your best mate, or simply organise a Google hangout with your sister so you can share a beer together and swap some gossip.
Zoom and the Houseparty app are proving very popular ways of connecting just now. Many online quiz groups are popping up online which you can take part in or if you’re feeling decidedly keen to interact, create a quiz and invite friends to take part. Take the lead and host in the knowledge you are bringing people together, will have and will be revealing all the correct answers!
No matter what activity you choose to share, it is the connection, checking how others are doing and creating good times that is what is important right now. Sharing together can maintain your social bonds and ease your daily stress caused by the news at the moment.
Don’t forget though, if your social media becomes too overwhelming at any time, you can simply mute Facebook and WhatsApp groups for a while to give your head a mental break. Turning off notifications can also help reduce the constant need to immediately engage. It is perfectly okay to switch off your social media for a bit and let your mind become absorbed with something else for a while. You can always come back it later.
4 Take a break from the news
Binge-watching the news is never a good idea. As this crisis rides out, we are informed things are likely to get much worse before they get better. So for the sake of your mental health, avoid watching or listening to rolling news channels that could make you feel more anxious by the day. Instead choose to watch, listen to or read something more uplifting, helpful or practical.
If you feel compelled to check the news, then decide to watch or listen at specific times, such as 10 am and 6 pm daily for a brief update rather than a deep-dive into the news. Also, try to stick to obtaining your news from a trusted source because there is a lot of misinformation being circulated on social media that is simply trying to sensationalise things to get their click revenues.
5 Plan a programme of virtual events
The Facebook page Virtual Connection, co-founded by a member of Solo Living’s Super Solos Group has plenty of ideas to help distract your mind. Set up during lockdown, members post links to resources, arts and cultural events available online to help people feel less lonely and socially isolated. Why not select and join in on live-streamed events at different points through the week? Whether it is opera, live book and short story readings, a concert or a movie you can feel part of an online audience.
6 Strike a balance between routine and variety
When trying to set up a ‘new normal’, finding a balance somewhere in between a strict routine and including a bit of variety is crucial. Build yourself a new routine that still includes your normal and basic self-care routine, such as:
- Getting up at a regular and decent hour every day.
- Getting dressed.
- Doing your hair, moisturising your skin regularly and putting on your make-up. Although many may feel quite liberated by having time off from a make-up routine.
- Eating regularly.
- Tidying up and looking after your home.
It may sound daft to mention these very simple things but it’s important not to let go of the small things which help us feel better.
Don’t forget to keep taking any medications you are on, especially if the time of day when you do is important. You can still go to the chemist to collect any prescription medications. Or, get them delivered to your door if you are self-isolating, so don’t worry about not being able to maintain your regular medications at this time.
7 Incorporate exercise into your daily lockdown routine
With so much time spent indoors, try shaking things up a little bit by adding things to your routine you normally wouldn’t have the time to do at home. For instance, watch YouTube or live streams following yoga or exercise workouts. Or, do something playful like listening to your favourite upbeat music and rocking out for a good 20 minutes in your living room while singing into your hairbrush. It’s important to create moments of fun and joy in your own company.
At the moment, running, walking and cycling out of doors are still options during the lockdown, so make the most of what little outdoor time you have and get some sun on your skin to help boost your Vitamin D levels, which is important for your immune system.
8 Create a to-do list
It can be really easy to fall into a slump and simply spend time crashed out on the sofa in your pyjamas, eating cereal straight from the box and watching back to back episodes of The Crown on Netflix.
While there is nothing wrong with a bit of ‘Netflix and chill’, this doesn’t have to be part of your everyday routine. Make an essential ‘to-do’ list of things you must do every day as part of your new self-care regime.
Now that you have a list of basic things you to need to do every day, think of all those little jobs around the house you keep putting off for when you have the time to do them. Well, now is the time. Walk around your home adding little tasks to your list. It can be simple tasks such as cleaning your windows, reorganising your bookshelves, clearing out your kitchen cupboard of old gadgets that you never use any longer or sorting through your wardrobe to bag up old clothes to donate to charity once this crisis is over.
Pin up your to-do list in a prominent place and pledge to do at least one task on your list each day. Cross off each task as you complete them using a thick red marker pen. There is nothing more satisfying than to see a long list of tasks crossed off your list in thick red ink!
9 Indulge in a DIY pamper and beauty routine
Even though you may think keeping up your beauty routine is rather trivial at this time, some simple self-care beauty treatments can help reduce anxiety, ease boredom and help you feel better. Treat your home as a sanctuary and create a space where you feel safe and comforted. Indulge in taking some more time than you usually would on a home self-care, beauty and wellbeing routine.
Inevitably, one of the side-effects of the lockdown is that all this government-mandated hand-washing and use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers has left us a nation of people with dry skin on our hands.
At this time we can give our hands the much needed extra attention they need by working in plenty of nourishing hand lotion. Apply a decent amount before bed and wear a set of cotton gloves. In the morning your hands will feel soft and supple instead of dry and itchy.
Youtube is your new home beauty friend
If you are used to having your eyebrows professionally plucked or threaded for you, then you may be worried about plucking your eyebrows yourself! Start by plucking the stray hairs around your eyebrows before trying to shape them.
If you need a guide, check out YouTube. There are plenty of instruction videos on plucking and shaping your eyebrows you can follow. Come to mention it, there are a plethora of other DIY beauty tips and practises that are easy to follow at home on practically every topic imaginable.
You have more time to spend pampering yourself at home. Continue on the indulgence theme by taking long soaks in the bath with your favourite bubbles, reading a good book or listening to relaxing music. Deep condition your hair with a quality conditioner. Treat your face to a rejuvenating face pack. Soften your cuticles in the bath and push them back with a cuticle stick. Buff and polish your nails before shaping them gently with a file.
10 Fill your time constructively
At a time where we literally have ‘time on our hands’, we can find increasingly inventive ways to fill our time that will actively protect us against the psychological risks of self-isolation.
Don’t forget that there are hundreds of millions of people across the world languishing in lockdown. Look to others to see what inventive ways they are coming up with to keep themselves entertained while countering the psychological impact that the virus is having on us all.
Take to your garden or balcony to sing to your neighbours, play a tune on your guitar or do a shared workout following a live stream being broadcast each day, such as the Joe Wicks workouts currently taking the public by storm at the moment.
Another thing to remember is that Living Alone Comes With Luxurious Times Of Silence. We have the chance right now to make the most of our precious times of silence, so why not indulge in them. We will look back at this time in a year or so and will come to appreciate that we had an opportunity to make the most of our alone time, even though it wasn’t exactly planned.