When we’re all told not to leave the house, living by yourself can feel very lonely. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are expert tips on coping with isolation.
When we’re all told not to leave the house, living by yourself can feel very lonely. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are expert tips on coping with isolation.

How to cope with isolation when you live alone

Even as some lockdown restrictions ease, people are still being encouraged to stay home as much as possible.

But isolation rules don't have to mean being socially isolated even if you miss your freedom. In fact, for those who are by themselves, this may just be the perfect time to get connected.

"While we can't see people we would normally see everyday, we can connect with a whole variety of people from all around the world and reignite those connections because we know that they are in a similar situation," said clinical psychologist Kathryn Smith.

Diana Nyari, 23, lives alone and is making use of her time by studying. Picture: Liam Kidston
Diana Nyari, 23, lives alone and is making use of her time by studying. Picture: Liam Kidston

For tech-savvy Millennials, Ms Smith said this would be easiest as they were already used to connecting through apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. However, she believed they could struggle with not being able to hang out with their friends in person and needed to realise that this was only temporary.

Those who could find difficulty staying connected were older Australians who were not tech savvy. But it was an opportunity to learn.

"You have to be quite proactive about how you reach out to other people," Ms Smith said.

"If you haven't already engaged in social media, you probably want to get engaged. If you are engaged in social media, you've got to work out what social media is actually helpful and makes you feel better.

"It's also looking at different platforms, like we've got marvellous things like Skype and Zoom and Facetime. There's so many different ways you can actually connect."

Ms Smith even suggested drawing a chart with you in the centre, surrounded by those who you are closest to and then those outside that and working out a plan on how to connect with them.

Beyond Blue's lead clinical adviser Dr Grant Blashki agreed that connection with family and friends was the best way to beat loneliness for those living by themselves during forced isolation.

"If you can't do that face-to-face, keep in touch through regular email, social media, apps, video conferencing and of course, the good old phone," he said.

 

With a usually active social life, Nyari says she exercises on her balcony to keep her spirits up. Picture: Liam Kidston.
With a usually active social life, Nyari says she exercises on her balcony to keep her spirits up. Picture: Liam Kidston.

 

Also crucial to beating the isolation blues is to design and stick to a routine filled with healthy life choices.

"The research evidence tells us that regular physical activity helps to reduce stress and assist with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety - it also helps improve sleep, which is important, particularly when it comes to maintaining healthy daily routines," Dr Blashki said.

"If you are working from home, get up at a regular time, have a shower and get dressed for work and, if possible, find a spot in your home that is your workplace, and this can help you maintain a healthy boundary between work and home life."

He also suggested allocating a particular timeslot to social media and watching the news before moving on to give your mind a break.

Security firm contractor and student Diana Nyari, 23, lives alone and said her usual highly-active social life made it a challenge to stay connected as she is also studying. Now she is exercising on her home balcony to keep her spirits up.

"I have been Facetiming with friends and family and making an effort to stay in touch with people over social media or through phone calls," Ms Nyari said. "I believe it is important during this time to stop myself from feeling lonely and also to check in with loved ones."

Originally published as How to cope with isolation when you live alone



Fires still contained within properties as winds ease

Fires still contained within properties as winds ease

STRONG winds late in the week had whipped up permitted, smouldering, burns in the...

Man, 82, airlifted from Tenterfield

Premium Content Man, 82, airlifted from Tenterfield

An 82-year-old man was airlifted to Lismore Base Hospital from Tenterfield last...

Music industry heavyweight takes on global role from Byron

Premium Content Music industry heavyweight takes on global role from Byron

Northern Rivers man on a mission to transform creative education