I live alone in a three-story apartment building in Springfield Illinois, my state’s capital. Due to the Corona-19 virus threat, I have been locked down in my apartment hiding from the public attempting to keep from getting sick.
I have been cooped up in this place since last Thursday (March 12, 2020) because I have a severe lung disease and the virus would kill me.
There is a lot of good information and tips out there to help families to cope with this crisis, but not much to help single people in isolation. I decided to write this piece to help those who, like me, are lonely and getting lonelier.
Social Distancing and Mental Health
Social distancing involves changes in behavior such as staying home from work, school, and events where people congregate. It is believed and proven, that social distancing will help to stop the spread of diseases.
During this worldwide medical crisis, we are being told to practice social isolation (stay home) whenever possible. In the United States, it is not yet an order or command, but staying home and away from people seems prudent given the severity of the disease.
However, social distancing can bring about boredom and loneliness because humans are social animals. Even people like me who would rather be alone a majority of the time will go seeking human companionship.
Isolation can have a major effect on mental health including an increased risk for depression, anxiety, and exacerbation of already present mental health difficulties. The lack of access to mental health providers doubles the effect and can mean many people experiencing not only the conditions listed above but in many incidences lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Social Distancing While Alone
Although many survivors are like me and love isolation or even crave it, the social distancing required during this flu pandemic is a bit much. It is difficult to think straight because of the isolation as humans need other humans to bounce ideas off of to be their most productive.
Being closed up with bored kids is bad enough, but when you have no one you can talk to for days on end, it grates on one’s nerves. Yes, one can use the telephone, iPad, or computer to reach out to others, but you lose the opportunity for a hug or a touch on the arm. Gone is the chance for laughter and joking around that often occurs when two or more people meet.
Then the fear and anxiety that comes from not knowing if you are isolated enough. If I catch it, I’m dead. That’s the truth. One can only imagine the anxiety that knowledge brings to my heart.
We Need Distractions in These Crazy Times
I decided to post this article with a list of things a single person who is in isolation can do to remain sane. If you think, I’m certain there are tons more things that one can do to keep busy.
Read a book or two you’ve been intending to read.
I’m not a professional by any means but I love the challenge.
Crafting is a marvelous way to pass time. By the end of quarantine, you’ll have a collection of objects you can sell or donate.
Write letters. Oh, the lost art of letter writing. We can bring it back.
Call a friend you haven’t thought of for a long while
Join an online support group or two (or three) and share your ideas and fears
Sign up for some webinars on subjects you find interesting
Take online classes on websites like Udemy which offers a lot of great classes from $10 and up.
When else will you have time and it definitely helps pass the time
Watch television but stay away from the news as much as you can.
Author that all-American novel you’ve been meaning to start.
Keep a journal of how you feel and what is going on in the world and your community. It could be a history book someday.
Call your neighbors to check on them. Remember, we’re all in this together
Call that relative you’ve been neglecting and chit chat for a while
Pet your dog, cat, pig, etc. doing so will help you remain calm and cuts back on the loneliness
Talk to yourself. Why not? No one is listening and it’s a great way to lessen anxiety
Go to websites like www.sparkpeople.com. They offer free exercise classes and even offer chair exercises for those who cannot stand or walk well.
Binge-watch documentaries or your favorite movie or television show
Eat well. Do not overeat, although it may be tempting, but keep your nutrition up and your calories down
Open some windows on warmer days and breath in the fresh air
Listen to the birds
Go outside. As long as you are not within 9 feet of someone, you should be safe. Get out and let the sunshine bathe your face.
Dust off that old math or science book and do some lessons. Learning can be a wonderful byproduct of isolation.
As I said, this is only a partial list that I thought up. I’m sure there are many, many more activities that you can think of for yourself.
If you live in the U.S. and haven’t any internet access, check out Xfinity (Comcast) as they are offering free Wi-Fi during this crisis to the entire United States.
The Bottom Line
Although times are scary and will remain so for a season, this too shall pass. Try to live in the now and not project into the future. Practice mindfulness and remain calm.
Most of all, remember as I said, we are all in this together. I’ll be here for you. If you wish to contact me write to sdavis8966 at hotmail.com. I’ll do my best to help in any way I can.
I will remain calm and I’m urging you to do the same.
“You cannot wait for an untroubled world to have an untroubled moment. The terrible phone call, the rainstorm, the sinister knock on the door—they will all come. Soon enough arrive the treacherous villain and the unfair trial and the smoke and the flames of the suspicious fires to burn everything away. In the meantime, it is best to grab what wonderful moments you find lying around.” ~ Lemony Snicket
“When everything around you is crazy, it is ingenious to stay calm.” ~ Mehmet Murat ildan