It’s a funny thing to live alone. I have recently moved back to London due to the opportunity to work practically on my course, and this means I am now back to living on my own. I’ve had this experience at the beginning of this academic year and again, now. Both times, I was going from two extremes; constantly being surrounded by family (especially in the lockdown environment) to then being by myself. Whilst I have always enjoyed my own company and carved out time for myself, there are definitely times I struggle. There have been many people forced to live by themselves during this time, and because of the up and down nature of living by yourself I thought I would compile a list of ways I deal with this that may help someone in a similar situation.
- Make plans. When I look at my week I make sure I have made plans to see people. Whether that’s catching up with a friend for a walk and a coffee, or organising a study date at the library. I make sure the social interactions that are available to me, sticking to Covid regulations, are built into my week. I can then be excited to spend time with my friends and not leave it to chance.
- Bubble up. Remember, if you live on your own, you’re officially allowed to join with another household, so speak to your friends and make sure you set yourself up with a support network you can see in close proximity. If you have friends that you can’t meet, call or FaceTime them, play an online game or have a Netflix watch party. I often get in a rut of not reaching out to people for fear of seeming needy, or just being too wound up in my own head, but I guarantee you that people will be grateful for the contact and to do something a bit different, too!
- Listen to music, podcasts, YouTube videos. Sometimes I like the peace and quiet but other times it gets too much. When this happens I simply play a favourite song through my speakers, or choose a podcast to listen to, filling my room with background noise and entertaining myself. I particularly like chatty, relaxed podcasts where it’s in an interesting conversation with two people and I can especially recommend Grounded with Louis Theroux, Table Manners with Jessie Ware and IWEIGH with Jameela Jamil. Or a study YouTube vlog that seems relatable and like catching up with a friend, also great for gaining ideas for things to do, ways to study and other life tips. For this, I recommend Unjaded Jade, Moya Mawhinney, Nanya Florence and Vee Kativhu. They are often inspirational and motivational to get work done too!
- Treat yourself. Find ways in your day to do things for you and you alone. Order that takeaway you’ve been craving or binge that Netflix show you’ve always wanted to watch and don’t feel guilty about it! Do what makes you happy. One of the benefits of living alone is you don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone else so I recommend just making the most of that!
- Establish some sort of routine. Though my days generally look quite different due to various commitments, I try to keep a morning routine of journaling, mediating and yoga. This means I have time to focus on me and my mindset, to start the day the best way possible and to structure my time so I’m not wondering what to do with myself.
- Read! As an English Literature student I have to make the time to settle down into a book but for anyone interested or wanting to get into reading I think now is as good a time as any. Fill those quieter moments that are getting you down with a good book and you’ll feel you’re living your life alongside the characters, investing in their worlds and the unfolding narrative. It’s another way to find connection throughout this time.
- Try to get out of the house every day. Any space by yourself can quickly feel very small when you spend too much time there. I try to get out, even if it’s just for 20 minutes, every day. Getting that fresh air and enjoying the sights around me really does wonders and I feel much more appreciative and grateful for everything around me when I get back and I’ve had that headspace.
- Create a nice space. If you have to be on your own, create a nice environment around you. Decorate your space, this can be done easily and cheaply with maybe a colourful pillow, a cosy blanket, a nice rug, or some pretty fairy lights. Print out pictures of friends and family and stick them on your wall to remind yourself you are surrounded by loved ones. Further surround yourself with your favourite things, things that spark joy in you and take the time to appreciate them. Light a delicious-smelling candle or drink tea from your favourite mug. Create a space you want to spend time in.
I guess my final tip (you get a bonus one here!) is to remember: this too shall pass. It’s not forever. You may always want to live on your own but it won’t always be in a lockdown scenario. There will be a time where you can once again invite friends over, hug, drink and eat together. Go out, explore the city, travel to new places. As summer arrives and things seem to be slowly but surely opening up again, hope is in the air. Hang in there because better times are on the way!
By Maya Nardoni
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