23rd April 2020

Home Alone in lockdown

Living alone and working from home is a lifestyle choice for many people, but enforced isolation can throw up a lot of unexpected issues, and magnify the anxieties and long-term concerns that will be experienced at some point by most of us in these troubling and uncertain times.

Staying connected is important – and the current situation has seen a huge rise in the number of people using Zoom, Skype and other virtual ‘meeting room’ apps for everything from business meetings to book groups.

Bradford on Avon Mayor, Cllr Simon McNeill-Ritchie, offers the following observation:

“Whether or not we’re used to living alone or working from home, in these extraordinary circumstances, most of us will struggle from time to time. Please remember there are people you can always speak to – family, friends, neighbours or professionals. And perhaps they could do with hearing from you too.”

But along with connection comes the possibility of information overload. Balance is key here, so if you are finding all the online possibilities contributing to stress, rather than relieving it, here are a few tips aimed at avoiding ‘overwhelm’ for the locked-down single person.

  • Establish a routine – this goes without saying for people who normally work from home, but if your job means you are usually based in an office with others, it’s useful to organise your home working day in a similar way. Put in your usual hours, connect with colleagues via phone, email or WhatsApp, and take a lunch break.
  • Even if you are not working, it’s useful to keep to a routine. Going for a daily walk or scheduling some at home exercise (there are numerous classes online, offering everything from high-powered workouts to the gentlest yoga) at the same time every day will have huge benefits for physical and mental health. Regular mealtimes and bedtime will also give shape to your day.
  • Try and avoid becoming a news junkie – we are bombarded by so much information via the news media and social platforms that we are in danger of being completely overwhelmed, often by fake news and wrong advice.
  • If you have a garden, or even a few pots on a balcony, grow something. Fast-growing salad leaves offer almost instant gratification – and an excellent source of fresh veg. Flowers will simply provide enormous pleasure in the weeks to come.
  • Creative pursuits are often restorative whether it be learning to bake with online lessons, or drawing the view from your window. It might take a while to master these skills, but time to practice is something you may more than likely have at the moment.
  • Pick up the phone or write a letter, postcard or email to someone you haven’t been in touch with for a while.
  • Helping others can often be an emotionally rewarding activity, so consider signing up to the Town Council’s volunteer network HERE
  • If boredom threatens, take the opportunity to read the books that have sat on shelves, unopened, for years. Catch up with classic films and box sets. There is so much out there to entertain, inform and instruct. The March Network for example offers links to everything from a virtual literature festival to the Scout movement: https://www.marchnetwork.org/creative-isolation
  • Above all, don’t be hard on yourself. There’s a lot of no doubt well-meant advice out there about taking this time of enforced leisure to learn a language, take up a new hobby, declutter, alphabetise, organise: by all means, do it if you want to! But pressure to achieve is the last thing anyone needs in the current climate. Take time to be in the moment, enjoy the peace and listen to the birds.