My last article was about how to cope with working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak. This article is about things you can do during social isolation. While work may keep you busy for most of the day (if you are working from home during this time), there’s a lot of time you’ll be spending alone outside of work hours. I live alone (and love it) so I naturally have spent a large amount of time by myself. In this article, I’ll share with you some things you can do to stay in your power, explore yourself, and keep away fearful thoughts.
I mentioned this in my previous article but journaling is invaluable and completely necessary when you live alone and you spend most of your time alone. Simply grab an old notebook, some printer paper, or even some old paper grocery bags and get writing. There’s something very relaxing about the tactical act of writing, but if you absolutely have nothing to write on, use your cell phone’s note software.
Write about anything, from the most mundane things you did that day to your plans for the future (and how you’re going to get there). If you get stuck with starting, try situating yourself. By that I mean, write down what day of the week it is, what you just did, what you just ate, where you’re sitting, what you’re glancing at when you’re not writing. Keep the pen moving and get out as much or as little as you want. Keep your journal out and in clear sight so you can pick it up throughout the day. Before long, you’ll find yourself itching to jot down your thoughts.
Read a Book
This one may seem obvious but it can be easy to forget how important, thought-provoking, and enthralling books are. You’re never lacking company when you’re reading a book. There’s sure to be at least one book laying around your house that you can pick up. If you have a hard time concentrating on reading, build up. Don’t try to force too hard. Read a page, then take a break, come back to it. Repeat until you’re able to build longer periods of time reading.
Go Out in Nature
While we are supposed to stay socially isolated, this does not mean that we can’t take a brief walk around the neighborhood or drive to a local park. Go out at any time of the day that you can and that benefits you the most. Try out different times. Since moving and living close to Griffith Park, I’ve been going out early in the morning before 8am and I love that time. It’s already light out and I get in a brief hike before work. If you don’t live in an area where there is much to do outdoors, simply go outside and find a tree or a bush or a small plant. Breathe the air. Look up at the sky.
There is no substitute for exercise. Walk, run, do yoga, lift one of the many bean cans you’ve stocked up on, jump, dance. Do anything to move your body a bit, no matter how small it is. Exercise is not about shame for what you cannot do or what you lack the ability to do; it is giving your body thanks and restoration for all that it does for you. Get creative about exercise during this time. Maybe going to the gym is not the best idea. So try making up a routine at home, follow a YouTube video, or have a dance party (by yourself).
There’s probably a time when you got excited about a new art-related hobby. Do you have any art supplies laying around? Do you have a pen and paper? Draw, paint, make a collage, play an instrument, crochet, sew, design, record a podcast or video. Do something with your hands and/or voice. Engage your childlike wonder and creativity.
Play with Food
My brothers and I used to play “Iron Chef” when we were growing up. We didn’t have much food in the house, so one of the ways to distract ourselves from that was by being creative. We would pick a star ingredient and find some questionable ingredients in the fridge and at the back of the cupboards. Then it would be me against one of my brothers, and our other brother was the judge. Activities around food in a time like this spark creativity while being a productive distraction.
You can also play your own version of Iron Chef alone. Play some music in the background, narrate what you’re doing (if you want a laugh), or cook and eat alongside a YouTube video. There are loads of YouTube videos that can be comforting in this time in the following formats: What I Ate in a Day, mukbangs (these help a lot if you’re lonely over the holidays), and tutorials. My favorite vegan YouTube channels are Julien Solomita (tutorials, comedic cooking), Cheap Lazy Vegan (tutorials and mukbangs), It’s Liv B (tutorials, What I Ate in a Day), and Lauren Toyota (What I Ate in a Day).
Appreciate Your Pets/Plants/Things
My two cats are amazing companions for living alone and spending a lot of time alone. They are low maintenance, but they also love being pet and they love playing. Your pets are little buddies that are always there for you and with you. Life is so much more fun and lively with them around. If you don’t have a pet, appreciate your plants! They are beautiful, living organisms too! Or appreciate the sky outside of your window. Appreciate books; they came from living trees! Appreciate natural materials around your house; they help you live a more convenient life and they came from the environment. Appreciate momentos that you have from childhood, or an award you received a year ago, or the expert way that you put together your IKEA furniture.
Social isolation is a great time to reflect and get to know yourself a bit more and reconnect with the simple things in life.