Living Alone During Shelter-In-Place

Since the shelter-in-place order, thousands of college students went home to their families, leaving many college towns feeling empty. Most people remaining are fortunate enough to have roommates staying in town, but some people are left without roommates and are living alone, for maybe the first time in their lives, myself included. This can happen for many reasons, maybe you can’t afford the plane ticket home, don’t have a good relationship with your family, want some peaceful alone time or couldn’t stand to pay rent for an empty apartment or house. Whatever the reason, it can feel like there aren’t many others in your position, so this is me saying, hey! We’re here! You’re not alone! And we’ll get through this shelter-in-place together!

 

Things to Do While Living Alone

If you need some activities to do when living alone, here’s some things I’ve been doing to have fun and stay motivated during this difficult time.

Take this as an opportunity to do all the things you can’t necessarily do when others are around. There aren’t roommates to be courteous of (but don’t forget your neighbors), so sing loudly, dance around, play your music loud, dress fancy, dress like a slob and live how you want to live.

When living alone, you might find it particularly difficult to stay motivated without others encouraging you to stay on task. Try implementing more structure to your day. Writing small, enjoyable tasks in your planner in addition to schoolwork will give you a sense of purpose and stop your days from blending together. Shelter-in-place is a unique opportunity to focus on all of the things you always want to do but “never have time for.” I find that filling up my day with hobbies and school takes my mind off of the world’s problems keeps me from feeling too lonely.

Just because you live alone doesn’t mean you have to cut off all social interaction. Stay connected to friends and family through FaceTime or Zoom. Maintaining the strong support network you are used to is important to staying strong through these unusual times. Still feeling lonely? Your friends probably are too. Turn your sad energy into kind action! When I was particularly bored, I made a few of my friends customized playlists on Spotify, and it felt wonderful knowing that I was making my friends’ days better. 

Another important tip I’ve been doing is going outside. Shelter-in-place doesn’t mean you need to stay inside all the time. Getting fresh air outdoors can do wonders for your mental health. Make sure to practice physical distancing and follow guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention so you can keep yourself and others safe. 

 

Mitigating COVID-19 Risk 

Living alone can be difficult, so make sure to communicate with your guardian or relatives, so you can stay up to date on each other’s health situation and be aware if someone does get sick.

As a college student, health insurance may not be something you’ve thought too much about, but make sure to look up the hospital nearest to you and check that your health insurance, if applicable, is accepted there. Also, make sure you are stocked up on medicinal supplies or necessary medications.

Reflect on your mental health daily. Living alone can get lonely, but if you feel lonely turning into a depressive episode, please reach out to loved ones and professionals. You can always contact the national suicide helpline at 1-800-273-8255.

If you know someone else who is living alone, make an agreement to help each other out and get groceries for each other if something happens. If you don’t know anyone in town, this would be a good opportunity to develop good relationships with your neighbors while maintaining physical distancing. Do you have someone who would pick you up in the case that you get sick? Talk it out and be clear on expectations.

 

Remember:

People show their love in different ways. The five love languages, made famous by a book of that title, include words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, quality time and acts of service. Recognize that the kind of love you need may not be the same as what your friends need. Along these lines, people are drawn to different modes of communication, or the lack thereof. I find that when my friends don’t reach out to talk, I can feel really lonely. But, I remind myself that these relationships are normally based on in-person interactions, so to shift it online, I may have to initiate it. You can’t expect your friends and family to know what kind of love you need if you don’t express it.  

 

Living alone can be really enjoyable. Set yourself up for a healthy lifestyle, feeling safe, and staying happy. You can do it. Remember, there’s a lot of us in the same boat!