In many ways, moving out of the family home or college dorm and learning how to live alone is a rite of passage. Most of us look forward to the perks of living alone and having full control over your living situation.
The big move brings about a sense of exhilaration along with ample freedom and space to do whatever it is that you please.
But as of 2021, it’s not just recent graduates and the elderly who are living solo. Data from 2018 shows that the number of single-person households in the U.S nearly doubled over the last 50 years.
This number is only growing as we continue to uphold quarantine and social distancing practices in the face of a global pandemic.
But regardless of whether you’re alone by choice or not, there’s no undermining the effects of isolation. Recent census data shows that young adults living alone during the pandemic reported higher rates of anxiety and depression.
So how do you learn to live by yourself without feeling lonely?
1. Stay in touch with loved ones.
As self-explanatory as it sounds, social isolation can lead to severe consequences for your mental health. If you’re dealing with depression, something as simple as reaching out to friends and family members can feel incredibly difficult.
But making sure you keep in contact with the people closest to you is a good way to stay on top of your mental health. And if you’re on the other side of the spectrum, make sure to check in on those who are living alone!
2. Limit social media.
Take it from someone who’s been on an Instagram cleanse for almost a year now — it works wonders.
When we’re alone and feeling disconnected from the rest of the world, seeing friends and influencers flaunt their social lives online never helps. If anything, it can make us feel irrelevant and pressured to keep up appearances.
Going offline may sound scary at first, but trust me: you’ll still find ways to keep in touch with everything that’s going on. Taking a step back to focus on your life instead of scrolling through someone else’s is something you’ll wish you did earlier.
3. Spend time outside.
Go out whenever you can! As cozy as your living space might be, being holed up in the same space for days or weeks on end will most certainly drive you nuts.
Interacting with new people gives you a chance to practice being human again. Plus, spending time in nature can even provide cognitive benefits such as stress reduction and attention restoration!
4. Count your blessings.
Studies show that practicing gratitude makes you happier. Writing down (or reminding yourself) of why living alone is great will help cultivate positive emotions and challenge negative thoughts.
For instance: sleeping in without being disturbed by roommates or siblings is always something to be grateful for. Or maybe you’re thankful that you get to decorate your space to your heart’s content!
The possibilities are endless.
5. Get to know yourself.
Who are you, really? It’s the basis of every existential human question for a good reason. Befriending yourself is quite possibly the best investment you can make in the long run.
Whether it’s through meditation, journaling, or a relaxing bath, sitting with your thoughts and emotions can help you pinpoint issues that need your attention. Ask yourself what contributes to your loneliness. What do you think would help? What is it you really need?
6. Think about getting a pet.
If the opportunity presents itself and you feel as though you’re ready to be a pet parent, why not adopt a new companion? The positive effects of animal companionship on depression and anxiety are nothing to scoff at.
Not only that, but you’ll have a friend for life.
7. Set a schedule for yourself.
You don’t have to plan out your day by the minute, but giving yourself guidelines can help provide some much-needed structure. Sitting around with nothing to do feels like a dream when you’re overworked and stressed, but it can actually be detrimental when it’s all you’re doing day-to-day.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t rest, (you should) but finding ways to keep yourself busy will help distract you from negative, repetitive thought patterns.
It’s a well-known fact that humans are social creatures. Spending time with others, particularly for a good cause, can be just the thing to combat loneliness. Not only will it give you the chance to make new friends and connect with others, but it’ll also help you feel good about how you’re spending your time.
9. Install a security system.
While you may feel fine during the day, living alone can be anxiety-inducing at night when it’s dark. Putting in a security system can give you some peace of mind.
These days, it’s simple to add that extra protection to your home. You don’t necessarily need a big fancy system from a huge security company. You can purchase and install a system like Nest or Ring that connect directly to your phone so you’ll always know what’s going on at your door.
10. Be kind to yourself.
In our darkest hours, we’re often plagued by intrusive thoughts that feed our deepest fears and insecurities. It’s important to be patient with ourselves and validate our feelings. We all struggle from time to time, and that doesn’t nullify our worth.
If you still find yourself struggling to cope, there are a few ways to get help.
Websites like BetterHelp and Psychology Today have “search engines” to help locate therapists near you. Similarly, there are a number of support groups both online and in-person that offer assistance to those struggling with loneliness.
If you’re feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255, which is available 24 hours a day and caters to English and Spanish speakers. Please remember you’re not alone. You are loved, and you’ve got this!
Originally written by Yona Dervishi on YourTango
Featured image via cottonbro studio on Pexels