With majority of people working from home these days, there has been much focus on working parents who are home with their children, elderly people who are living alone and those who are at high risk for contracting the coronavirus. But what about the average single person living alone? The seemingly healthy individual who is not married, does not have a roommate and may be living miles away from family. How is that person avoiding isolation while sequestered at home?
For the single person, staying home and social distancing can quickly turn into isolation if not careful. If he or she is an extrovert, chances are they are being diligent to stay connected. These individuals are reaching out, staying active and making sure they are maintaining some human contact. However, for the introvert, this type of diligence might not even come to mind because the extra effort may be viewed as exhausting or unnecessary since it is outside their comfort zone. There are several things both the introvert and extrovert can do to keep from cutting themselves off to the world:
- Create a schedule—not just for your work hours but also for times where you can be social. Treat your work-from-home schedule just like would if you were going into the office and planning your professional and personal day. Your days should not be consumed with only work now that your home and office are the same. Do whatever you need to do to set office hours and draw a line to the beginning and end of your work day.
- Participate and host virtual happy hours and get togethers. Whether chatting with colleagues, friends or family, virtual chats will help keep you connected with the outside world. You do not have to be the host but accept the invite when one is extended. You can use these video chats to just catch up or even play online board games. These activities will keep you engaged.
- Utilize social media—in a health way. Don’t get into a political discussion or read too much into what your neighbor has to say about social distancing. Instead, check in on your friends, share silly memes and debate what’s best to binge watch on Netflix. Maintain your sense of humor. You may be able to find a little relief from whatever is stressing you out or commiserate over the lack of toilet paper at your neighborhood grocery store. Use social media to simply be social whether it’s a full blown conversation or a like on someone else’s post.
- Pick up a new hobby. Have you always wanted to draw or learn to dance? What about learning to cook a new type of cuisine? Now is a great time to take an online class or watch a few how-to videos. Put these classes on your schedule so you attend them if they are live or watch them regularly. Find something to do to energize you and keep your mind active.
- Get outdoors and maintain social distancing. Take a walk or hike. Your home is not a prison cell; you can go outside but obviously within limits. Even though you can’t interactive with people, there is reassurance in seeing others and not just the walls of your house or apartment. Follow the government rules in place but take in the fresh air and sunshine, which will immediately boost your mood.
- Set up a buddy system with other single friends. Reach out to friends who are living alone. Schedule regular happy hours or take an online class together. Just look after each other so no one falls into a place of isolation. Share ideas with each other for staying engaged and energized and lift each other up when feeling down.
- Take advantage of wellness resources and initiatives during this time. Many organizations, including your own potentially, are offering access to wellness information and apps as well as fitness subscriptions. Discover new groups that are offering free classes on Instagram and Facebook Live to work on your physical health and explore many of the free mediation apps to work on your mental health. You may also want to look into your organization’s employee assistance program or mental health counseling services offered by local doctors to help relieve stress and anxiety from the uncertainty of these times.
It’s easy to retreat into your own bubble and fall into a routine where one day blends into the next. It may take some work and stepping out of you comfort zone, but the best way to avoid self-isolation is by staying busy and finding ways to engage.