Solitude. It's defined as voluntarily or involuntarily being alone. Like everything else in this world, solitude has its pros and cons. This includes a renewed sense of self, heightened intellectualism, and spirituality.
On the other hand, emotional turbulence, restlessness, and using others to mirror our identities can pose a challenge for some individuals. According to Developmental Psychologist Kenneth Rubin, a positive experience can be achieved only if the following preconditions are met, including the ability to process emotions in a healthy way, join a group when they feel like it, and maintain positive relationships.
Everyone reacts to situations differently. Being away from social interaction is generally perceived as a negative thing. While this may be, it's important to note that being alone does not automatically make a person lonely. The ability to reflect and become comfortable in one's skin is a gift that requires delicate balance. With most still staying home to avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus, here’s how some women do it alone:
Quarantine & Solitude
I've lived alone for almost two years. Figuring life out on my own allowed me to learn lessons that my friends, teachers, and parents couldn't teach me. In fact, it invited me to learn more about myself and figure out what I wanted to achieve. I can be as creative as I like, plan out my days just the way I want, make friends in new environments, and much more. Even so, the one thing I miss is being able to walk outside and enjoy nature. This situation also feels eerie.
Kristine Graham, 28, Podcaster, echoes my thoughts, "Social distancing hasn’t really been a problem for me. It has been a little weird watching society adapt to distancing, but it’s for the best so I’m willing to abide. It’s my hope that others can do so as well."
As an ambivert, Graham is just as comfortable around a group of people as she is by herself. Graham also believes there's a big difference between choosing to be alone and being forced to. This lack of ‘consent’ has impacted her quarantine life. Despite this, she rarely feels lonely, having successfully created a communal life with family, friends, and a romantic partner.
On the other hand, Dr. Stacy Peebles, 45, Clinical Social Worker, identifies as an introvert who enjoys her own company. Rarely bored or lonely even before quarantine, Peebles adds: “I continue to feel very happy and satisfied with the life I live. One major positive I saw for myself is that I haven't had to change my lifestyle. I’m organized and typically stay stocked up with at least 2-3 months of necessary supplies. I feel positive reinforcement that my life as an introvert is healthy and happy, and could maintain social distancing requirements for several months without feeling any major impact.”
Working From Home
The company I work for was well prepared for remote work even before the social distancing guidelines. The transition from working in the office to working from home was mostly smooth. The biggest advice I have for professionals is to stay organized and well-rested.
Graham suggests that professionals prepare for the day as if they're still going to work. "Get up, take a shower, and get dressed. Also, create a designated workspace. You don’t normally work where you rest so you shouldn’t be doing that now that you’re working from home. Boundaries are important now more than ever."
Having worked from home for over a decade, Peebles is accustomed to a regular work routine. “Try to keep a regular schedule. Create a to-do list each day and give yourself a timeframe to complete each task. If possible, dedicate a specific room or workspace to yourself and always go into that space when you are doing your work. This can help you stay focused. I recommend not to have any distractions like a TV or phone.
For me, self-care has never been more important. This includes moving my body every few hours via a short walk, dance, or stretch.
Being home may tempt you to order in more often, especially as some grocery stores may still be experiencing food shortages. I find that completing a big haul bi-weekly and cooking simple 30-minute meals helps. In leisure time, listen to music, read or call your friends and family. Since social distancing has been put in place, I've adapted my self-care routine and allocated more time to it.
For Graham, a positive thing that came out of this situation is seeing how adaptive she is during an emergency. This is despite the fact that her self-care, which includes spa time and shopping, has been impacted by the coronavirus. In terms of productivity, Graham has made it her mission not to learn anything new as things are currently stressful and uncertain.
Travel is one of Peebles’ forms of self-care. “I love to travel and usually do so every few months. I recently returned from a trip before the virus became an issue, otherwise, I’d be planning another trip now. Also, I enjoy attending live entertainment events and planned to attend shows that have now been canceled. My other methods of self-care include listening to music, exercising, dancing, taking bubble baths, and burning candles. I keep in contact with family and friends by phone and text.”
These times are hard and can bring up unfamiliar feelings in you. Just take life one day at a time, focus on things you can control, and be gentle with yourself.
Stay safe & healthy,
Aissatou Bah is a copywriter, lifestyle blogger and poet. You can find her on social media @aissatoutb