Published on: March 29, 2020
For those of us who live alone, sheltering in place and social distancing is no joke.
Living alone is entirely fine during normal times when we are able to socialize with others and see friendly faces, but feelings of loneliness and isolation are unhealthy, and right now, when we're being asked for very legitimate reasons to shelter in place, feelings of loneliness in uncertain times can bubble to the surface in those of us living alone.
Scientific studies show that feeling lonely and isolated not only contributes to higher risk of stress, anxiety, and paranoia and less restful sleep, it also correlates with higher risk of coronary heart disease and stroke (yes, we were made for connection, and it's no wonder that our hearts and minds suffer when we feel disconnected from others).
But, there are ways to counter loneliness while we're being responsible and following guidelines for social isolation to keep a pandemic at bay. And, it should bring a smile to your face to know there are too many of these to cover in one blog post. So, if you don't find what you're looking for here, stay tuned for more.
One of the reasons loneliness is suspected of being so bad for our health is because it promotes our fight or flight response, raising cortisol levels and keeping our bodies in a constant state of stress. Meditation reverses that response (and, you were wondering why I listed it first).
Meditation forces us to focus on our breath, taking full and deep inhalations and complete exhalations, and this helps move us out of the fight or flight sympathetic nervous system into the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces stress levels.
If you've never meditated before, you're in good company, and now is the time to start. I am also new to meditation and have only just started developing my own practice (which is by no means a habit yet for me). Here are some resources to help you get started:
- Jeremy Falk offers many 10-minute meditations available on Audible (they can be one of your free monthly downloads)
- Jack Kornfield, Tara Brack, and Trudy Goodman organized a free half day retreat specifically to help get us through this isolation
- 20 days of meditation with Jay
Exercise your body and your creative spirit
If you want to do some yoga at home, Down Dog is offering a free app for that until May 1st, and it's not just yoga - HIIT, Barre, 7 minute workout. That free invitation is extended for students, teachers, and healthcare professionals until July 1st.
Yoga to Cope is ALWAYS free. Yoga to Cope is a nonprofit that aims to provide free online yoga-based resources for people who are coping with grief, trauma, depression, whatever. They were there pre-COVID, they'll be there through COVID, and after. These folks know grief and have seen the outcome of loneliness. They are an incredible resource during all times and especially times of uncertainty.
CorePower Yoga has online free videos for you to follow along with.
If Pilates is more your jam, Basi Pilates offers a free video to guide you through basic mat exercises.
Flora Bowley is offering some virtual paint (and movement and meditation) parties that are free! She also offers paint courses that are all 50% off right until April 6th 2020.
8 of the Ivy Leagues are offering 450 courses you can take online for free right now. From health & medicine to business to personal development, this is the perfect time to enroll.
In this Together
If you just need to feel like you're not alone, 10% Happier has put together a collection of podcasts they call "Coronavirus Sanity Guide". I haven't listened to all these yet, but the titles sure are intriguing, and there really is something for everybody here.
Virtual Family Reunion & Happy Hours
I don't know about you, but I'm talking to my sister more now than in the past year. She lives on East Coast time, I live a continent away on West Coast time, and we usually talk a couple times a week until COVID. Now, we're talking up to twice a day, and it's been SO nice!
I'm also talking more with other family members, and I have to say, it's been incredible to connect more with people I'm only usually able to see two or three times a year. Other folks have arranged a full on virtual family reunion - complete with FaceTime, laughs, food, and drinking... speaking of drinking.
Social happy hour circles are popping up like crazy on Facebook. I'm getting reacquainted with some of my college friends through these groups and getting closer and closer with some of my other college friends through increased email and messaging right now when during normal times, we just simply don't have time.
A lost form of communication
What are your thoughts on sending letters in the mail? I LOVE getting letters in the mail have a box full of all the ones I've received over the years, and I have a weakness for stationery, so now that I've little else to do in the evenings, I'm all set to write some letters.
If you need the stationery first, check out these links:
Paper Culture Stationery plants a tree for every order
May Designs offers swoon worthy water color stationery and gorgeous hand-sewn journals all with an eco-conscious mindset
Of course, my favorite stationery is always somewhat vintage, so if that's your style too, you'll probably enjoy these:
John Muir packed light for his hikes. His backpack was stolen by a horseman on his 1,000 mile journey. The horseman waited for him and returned his pack because of its sparse contents. What did Muir consider essential? A journal, which is how he tracked most of his adventures.
While any notebook in the world will serve as a journal, most of us don't keep those on hand in the digital age, so if you need a journal, check out these sources:
John Muir Inspirational Journal offered by The Sierra Club
Stay tuned for the next post in this series for more ways to stay engaged during this time, and remember that you are being incredibly responsible by practicing social distancing and sheltering in place right now. And, keep your chin up. We'll get through this.
About the Author
Brandy Searcy is an outdoor girl who loves hiking, gardening, bird-watching, and body boarding. Her innate curiosity means she's constantly researching something, and she's likely sharing what she's learned here on the blog.
Nearly obsessive about her skincare, she started developing products to pack with her on day hikes and soon realized her backpacking friends were searching for a portable skincare routine as well, and that's how Rain Organica started.
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