Writer and speaker Niki Bezzant, who is in her own bubble right now, shares her nine personal tips for living your best life in solo lockdown.
If you’re anything like me, you might have experienced moments of inadequacy at what can feel like a parade of people on social media overachieving during lockdown: exhibiting their domestic goddess skills (homemade bread, fancy baked goods, clever kids’ home-school projects) and making creative use of their time in enforced quarantine.
This feeling can be amplified for those of us experiencing lockdown on our own.
With no-one else to talk to and add perspective, and a very uncertain situation going on outside, isolating in a bubble of one can be an extra challenging, mentally and physically.
Even for those of us who’re used to living alone.
I’m a very happy solo dweller, usually, and I’m accustomed to working from home. So you’d think I might have a head start on lockdown life.
But, as we have all come to learn, self-isolation is quite different from regular life.
Anxiety, uncertainty and low mood can be new problems for even the sunniest of us.
I’ve learned a few simple things while in lockdown about how to live well and stay well without my usual social and work lives.
Here are my tips for staying as calm and happy as possible right now.
1 Have some structure
While it’s okay to have the odd day where you stay in bed all morning, I’ve found it helpful to stick to a reasonably close approximation of my normal routine: going to bed at roughly the same time; setting my alarm to wake up at the same time each day.
And, even though my diary is a whole lot emptier than it was pre-lockdown, I like to have a plan for one or two things I want to achieve each day.
This helps me feel a sense of purpose – something humans need – rather than just drifting.
Even if it’s just a successful supermarket trip or one work task, getting something done makes us feel better.
2 Get dressed
It’s tempting to stay in your PJs all day, when you don’t have anywhere to go, and there’s no one at home to see you. I’ve given up wearing makeup, for the most part, but I find I’m much better, mentally, if I wear proper (still comfortable) clothes. It helps me to be more focused on work and makes life feel more normal.
3 Move your body
Experts have told us for years that exercise is good for us both physically and mentally, and that if there was a pill that offered the same benefits exercise does, it’d be a blockbuster.
This goes double right now, especially if we’re feeling a bit low. I now know my day goes better if I get out and have a walk/run after I get up.
I’ve also enjoyed exploring yoga-style workouts online. The bonus of living alone: no-one around to see you trying out your new moves, so you can embrace exercises you might not otherwise attempt.
4 Get outside (safely)
Time in nature offers us similar mood-enhancing benefits.
We’re not allowed to do adventurous sports right now or stray too far from home. But I’ve found, as I walk around the empty local streets, I’m noticing many more details than I ever have before and finding beauty and interest everywhere.
So, try to get out every day, breathe deeply and keep your eyes peeled for inspiration.
5 Schedule something social
If you’re on your own – and especially if you’re used to an active social life – I think it’s really important to speak to another human every day. And not just via text.
Try to have a phone call, Facetime, Zoom or Skype catch-up with someone daily.
It doesn’t have to be for long, but it’s an important way of staying connected, sharing how you’re feeling and keeping perspective.
And never underestimate the power of a good laugh with a good friend.
6 Stick to proper mealtimes
It’s so easy to drift through the day continually snacking when you’re constantly in the vicinity of the fridge and treat cupboard.
This is not great for our long-term health, or for our mindset. If you’re lucky enough to have work to do, take a proper lunch break and make yourself something nourishing.
Do the same for dinner. It doesn’t have to be a gourmet creation (whatever Instagram says) but you might find, as I do, that cooking is a calming and mindful activity with a nice reward at the end.
7 Don’t expect to get everything done
For some reason, when we have less to do, it can often be harder to achieve what tasks we do have.
In the current situation, when anxiety is heightened, I’ve learned it’s better not to be too hard on myself and to accept I’m not going to be as productive every day as I am at my peak.
The big ‘to do’ lists I was making in the early days, and completely failing to achieve, have given way to a maximum of three small, achievable things each day (see point 1). This makes me feel calmer and better.
8 Tidy up
I’m amazed how much mess one person can make in one day. I’m also amazed how taking ten minutes to tidy up and restore order at the end of the day can de-clutter my mind, as well.
9 Step away from the noise
I’m a news junkie, and love to have the radio on when I’m at home to stay connected to what’s going on in the world.
But right now, that paired with the endless scroll of bad-news stories and opinions on social media can be overwhelming and sometimes depressing.
I have learned that, for me, it’s a good idea to have a good chunk of time each day away from the 24-hour news cycle, including social media.
Put on some music or listen to a podcast unrelated to the pandemic, and spend some of your evening time watching silly, fun, funny stuff on TV or streaming services. It does no harm to try to escape reality for a little while.