Everyone is experiencing social distancing differently, and there’s no manual for how to do it right or a formula that’s going to work for everyone.
Human beings are, by nature, social creatures. So when you’re used to seeing family or friends every day, taking that away can have a huge impact on your mental health, especially as none of us know how long this will last. While these times can be tough, there are some simple ways we can start to work on feeling less lonely no matter what our living situation.
If you’re living on your own
Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be lonely. As humans we crave social interaction, but it’s quality over quantity that we’re really looking for.
- From Monday coffee mornings to Thursday quiz nights to Saturday happy hours, get your coursemates, friends and family together by hosting a social event. Having something in your diary will give you some reassurance that you’re not alone, and you’ll have things to look forward to throughout the week.
- Loneliness tends to creep up on us when we’re bored, so instead of sitting around doing the same stuff you usually would, use your free time with the things you’ve been wanting to do for ages. You could do some DIY or gardening, get out your old games console or try some new recipes to keep your mind busy and your spirits up.
- Why not try journalling your experience, taking the time to just sit with yourself each day and write down exactly how you’re feeling? Whether that’s a few scribbles of reflection over your morning coffee or a lengthy entry detailing the highs and lows of the week, find what works for you and stick to it – plus this way you’ll have something to look back on after all this is over.
If you’re living with your parents
Yes, the first few days of free food and all your childhood toys might be domestic bliss, but adjusting to life back home can be pretty challenging.
- I know taking the time to hang out with your parents, especially when you all live in the same house, can seem less appealing than hanging out with your friends — but make the most of having their company. It’s likely you’re all feeling the same about being shut in together, so make it a positive experience and use this time to bond over shared interests and activities you’ll all enjoy.
- Possibly the biggest adjustment to living at home is going from the freedom of living away to having to follow your parent’s rules again. In order to avoid arguments and conflict, have a sit down with your parents and go through their expectations of you, and yours of them. If you’re all on the same page, it’s far more likely you’ll all be getting along and you’ll feel happier and less lonely.
- You might feel as though you’ve lost your personal space moving back home, and while it can be tempting to regress back to adolescence and lock yourself in your room all day, shutting yourself off from your family isn’t the answer. Yes, take time to yourself when you need to be alone or talk to your friends, but if you’re ever struggling it’s likely your parents are there to talk to and support you with some advice too.
If you’re living with housemates or friends
Living with friends sounds like the ideal lockdown scenario – but times can still feel lonely after you’re with the same people for so long.
- Anyone can get on your nerves when you’re stuck inside with them for long enough, but now is not the time to cause conflict. If any issues start to arise, sit down who you’re living with and talk it through calmly and respectfully so you can all get along and maintain positive relationships while you’re in lockdown.
- It’s a really good idea to share your routines so you can all know what you’re doing and when that way you can establish some boundaries and you’ll know that it’s best to keep things quiet if someone’s on a work video call, when someone should be left alone and when to and when to schedule in socialising that works for everyone.
- Schedule in some socialization. Yes, you’re all together all the time, but one way to stop yourselves getting sick of eachother is having something like a weekly social where you all come together and socialise. Not only will it help you feel less lonely, but you never know how others are coping and it could help them too.
If you find yourself struggling with loneliness, please remember that you’re not alone and it’s ok to ask for help. Our Student Support website has tools and resources to help you cope, and Big White Wall is a 24/7 online community that offers free mental health and wellbeing support.