10 Ways to Combat Loneliness If You're Quarantined Solo
In Hump Day, award-winning psychotherapist and TV host Dr. Jenn Mann answers your sex and relationship questions — unjudged and unfiltered.
DEAR DR. JENN,
I'm single and have been in quarantine alone in my apartment for a month now. Going to stay with family isn't a safe option for me at the moment, and even though I set up FaceTime dates with them weekly, the day-to-day loneliness is really starting to get to me. Most of my friends are quarantining with their significant others, so it's hard for them to understand what I'm going through. What can I do to feel less isolated and stir-crazy? —Isolation Anxiety
DEAR ISOLATION ANXIETY,
Dealing with a pandemic and what feels like the end of the world is difficult enough as it is, but having to go through it alone and isolated can be especially traumatic.
On the one hand, being alone can allow you to avoid a lot of conflict with family or romantic partners, but it can also make your mind play tricks on you. When we are alone with no one to bounce our thoughts and fears off of, sometimes the darker side of human nature can take over. We can get very negative in our thought patterns which can lead to depression and anxiety. We can spiral easily.
That means it's even more crucial to focus on self-care and community. As some have aptly pointed out, "physical distancing" is a better term than "social distancing" — we need emotional connections now more than ever.
Here, 10 things you can do that will help with feelings of isolation and loneliness right now if you're quarantined alone.
1. Create structure.
We're living in a time when weekdays are hard to separate from weekends, but make sure you provide yourself with some sense of structure. Plan out when you are going to work, have phone calls with friends, connect with family, clean the house, and do your laundry. By creating a beginning, middle, and an end to your days it keeps them from blending into each other and creates more of a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
2. Stay active.
First thing's first: This is not the time to worry about losing weight, or to fixate on how your body looks. But if staying fit in insolation is important to you, there are tons of ways to do that from home, many of them free. Even just exercising in your living room for five minutes today will help you to get your blood pumping and give yourself a boost of feel-good endorphins. (Exercise can also help you feel less slugglish, too.)
3. Change your clothes.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, I've heard plenty of singles joking about how quarantining alone is an excuse to never change out of sweatpants, shower, or brush your teeth. Don't make this mistake! It doesn’t matter what you change into — you can have daytime quarantine pajamas and evening quarantine pajamas! — but having fresh clothes is important, even if you aren't seeing another soul. Not tending to your personal hygiene and taking care of yourself on this basic level can worsen feelings of depression and anxiety.
4. Focus on your work.
If you are lucky enough to still have a job right now that allows you to work from home, give it as much focus as you can. Your productivity may not be what it was prior to this pandemic, but if you can, try to think of work as an escape from thoughts about quarantine. Even if you aren't best friends with you coworkers, leaning on the social connections you have through your job and checking in with each other over Zoom meetings can help you feel less isolated.
5. Create social opportunities.
Having social interaction to look forward to at the end of the day is key. Make plans to have dinner on FaceTime with a friend, plan a happy hour with the girls every Friday night, watch shows on Discord, or have a Netflix Party with your family. You can also play online games like Jackbox, Jigsaw puzzles, or good old fashioned Words with Friends. You can also find groups online, like book clubs and cooking clubs, to meet others with shared interests.
6. Get on a dating app.
If you're single and feel ready to meet someone, this could be a great time to explore a new relationship. Like all the Instagrams have joked, this is an opportunity go back to the good 'ol days of real courtship. Find yourself jumping into bed with prospective dates too soon? This is your moment! You will have the chance to develop those emotional muscles and see what happens when you spend the time getting to know each other before ever even meeting. This is your opportunity to learn to do things differently.
7. Get creative.
This is a perfect time to milk your creative juices and pick up a new therapeutic hobby, beyond watching Netflix. Start painting, scrapbooking, making collages, writing poems, journaling, sewing, quilting, needlepoint, or anything else you've always wanted to try.
8. Start a project in your home.
Getting your home (or apartment, or room) clean and organized can go a long way in making you feel happier while isolating in your space. You don't have to use this time to tackle every single home improvement project on your list, but painting that wall, or even just organizing your sock drawer can give you a sense of satisfaction and help you pass the time on a Saturday.
9. Reconnect with people from your past.
Always wondered what happened to Suzy on your third grade soccer team? Or that long lost third cousin? Or your high school English teacher who changed your life? Look them up! (Just stay away from toxic exes and old hook ups.)
10. Do something for your personal growth.
Doing something to better yourself while home alone can help combat feelings of anxiety and depression that may crop up. Read a self-help book, watch a TED talk, start therapy using online telemedicine, start meditating, take a stab at writing that business plan.
The coronavirus pandemic is unfolding in real time, and guidelines change by the minute. We promise to give you the latest information at time of publishing, but please refer to the CDC and WHO for updates.