Doing COVID-19 single and alone has its pros and cons. You can watch whatever you want on Netflix, determine your own day, you don’t have to deal with anyone else’s bad moods or cope with feeling crowded. The downside is loneliness. Human beings fear loneliness and it can be a major stumbling block to happiness.
We all feel lonely from time to time. People in families and in relationships can be lonely too when they feel disconnected or misunderstood, or even invisible to others. We need to be ‘seen’ not just physically or for the work we do, but for everything we are and what we bring into the world.
As a fairly new widow, I have experienced the utter feeling of ‘aloneness’ which is actually quite different from loneliness. It is a difficult concept to put into words but is one that other widowed people totally get. You’re in the world and you might actually be happy and coping quite well, but you are alone. When you drive back from a dinner or a braai, there is no-one to share the day or the memory with. It’s often the small talk that you miss.
It is a weird place to be. During COVID-19 lockdown, this will be an all too familiar experience for people who have lost their partner, are divorced and single (with or without children), are newly retired, or even the elderly living alone. There is no-one to intimately share the feelings of fear, disruption, loss and even the good side of lockdown with. No-one to hold you physically. And you can’t pop out to a friend for a meal or a hug.
- Fear gets in your way:
- Of connecting with others – even just picking up the phone
- Of trying new things
- Lack of physical touch
- Can’t get out of bed
- Working long hours – there is no end of the day
- Claustrophobia from one’s own company – walls closing in
- Lack of variety
- Getting stuck in front of the television
- No routine
- Stop doing self-care
- Can’t travel locally or overseas to see children
- Own children are with ex-spouse – fear of being left out and forgotten by children
- Acknowledge your fear: write down what you fear, talk through what you fear, walk into your fear
- Find a way to help others and make a difference – be a mentor
- Create a purpose for yourself; a reason to get up in the morning
- Get some appointments in your diary
- Create structure and routine for your day
- Create times for social engagement eg. virtual coffee mornings, happy hours, etc
- Learn something new if you have time
- Pets can be a bonus at this time
- Create rituals for the end of the day to switch off
- Discover simple joys like the taste of a piece of chocolate melting in your mouth or picking a small bunch of flowers from the garden or walking on the grass with bare feet
- Cook together virtually – pick a recipe and both cook the same thing at the same time while chatting on Whatsapp and drinking a glass of wine
- Play games via apps like Scrabble and Upword
- Telephone conversations
Connect with family
- Grandparents can read stories virtually to their grandchildren
- Virtual family gatherings locally or of relatives all over the world
- Themed gatherings eg. wear a hat or something red
- Masterchef evenings – someone finds a recipe and everyone has to get all the ingredients. That person then directs the cook and everyone is online cooking at the same time and chatting.
Become part of communities
- University of the Third Age interest groups https://sites.google.com/site/u3asafrica/
- Highveld Forum
- 50+ Skills group www.50plus-skills.co.za
- Belong to your professional association and become a more active member
- Join an online exercise class
- Join faith-based groups
- Join service clubs and associations
It’s good to have some activities to do that are not work-oriented and help you to decompress and destress such as:
- Create videos
- Master Facebook
The bottom line is that while you might be alone, you still have the power of choice. How you show up and your attitude in each and every moment is up to you. And we only have this moment. You have to choose to give your own energy both leadership and direction. No-one else can do that for you. Be there for yourself over this time.
Human Potential & Parenting Expert helping you to Win @ Work and Life
Listen to my Win @ Life and Work Podcast