On Being Alone
|Kirstie Taylor||Apr 24, 2020|
How did you like my interview with Alexa Curtis for my new segment? This newsletter is for you, so reply back and tell me who else you want me to interview.
Sticking to the theme Alexa and I discussed, let’s talk about being alone. It can’t be ignored that many people are quite literally forced to be by themselves right now. The lockdown across the nation is isolating, more so for some than others. Even before the crisis, many people felt alone. Now, it’s magnified.
Put anyone in an apartment by themselves for over forty days, and they’re bound to feel lonely. I don’t want to negate that experience. Unfortunately, until we flatten the curve a lot more, there’s nothing to be done about adding more human interaction into our lives.
So what we’re left with is our current situation. While it’s healthy to feel all of your emotions, it’s also going to do everyone some good to learn how to feel more comfortable being alone.
I’m lucky to be quarantining with my boyfriend, but about two years ago, I decided to take a year off from dating. What inadvertently happened was that I realized how much I feared being alone. Not just in the sense of being single, but being alone in my apartment. It’s not quite comparable to what people are experiencing now with social distancing, but it taught me a great lesson about loneliness.
I desperately tried to fill up my time seeing friends. I couldn’t stand the thought of being alone with my thoughts. I struggled with my worst bout of depression ever, and being by myself scared the living hell out of me.
The focus of my journey to get out of that dark place wasn’t to learn how to be alone. I was struggling with depression, plain and simple. Getting better was my main goal.
But along the way of climbing out of that pit, I realized a few things about loneliness. Mainly, most of us don’t know how to be alone. I sure as hell didn’t.
There’s so much in life to distract ourselves with, it’s not necessary to actually be alone anymore. But learning the art of loving your own company is something you’ll use throughout your life.
Because the one person that will always be with you through your life is you.
“You come home, make some tea, sit down in your armchair, and all around there’s silence. Everyone decides for themselves whether that’s loneliness or freedom.”
Alright. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. How I learned to enjoy my own company and tips from others out on the interwebs.
Be proud of the parts of you that you love.
Lizzo—the queen of loving herself—recently posted an Instagram with the caption, “It’s been a long ass day 😫 🍑🤎 focus on a body part u don’t like about yourself and show it some love today. This quarantine has a lot of people suffering from mental health issues because we can’t get out and do our normal coping/self-care routines.... self-hatred was starting to creep up on me, but I gotta remember I’m 110% that bitch 💁🏾♀️ love you!”
Honestly, this sentiment is excellent. I find myself focusing on what I lack rather than what I’m great at ALL THE TIME. So let’s give ourselves a little praise. It doesn’t have to be a body part; it can be a quality, skill, passion, or hobby. Whatever you do like about yourself, give it some admiration.
Turn the notch down on your stress.
Several years ago, my friend, who works as a therapist, told me to create a list of activities that make me feel better that’s as long as my age.
That meant coming up with twenty-five different activities.
But thinking about and making that list is the best thing I could’ve done for myself. The act of self-soothing during particularly stressful times is the best thing you can do for yourself.
If you don’t know what helps you feel less stressed, I suggest you make the same list. Then do a few of those activities every day because going through a pandemic is more stressful than you might realize.
Put your phone down. Better yet, go social media free for a day.
A sure-fire way to feel lonely when you’re alone is looking at strangers' lives on social media. Not only that, but you’re more likely to compare yourself to others. That’s why social media usage makes people more likely to develop mental health issues.
Try limiting the time you use social media. Better yet, go social media free for an entire day out of the week. Of course, still take the time to talk to friends and family. But steer clear from getting wrapped up in people’s lives on the internet.
Do something creative just for the hell of it.
I was on the phone with my best friend talking to her about books. Personally, I f*cking love them. For her, she explained, “I just don’t see the point of reading unless it’s for self-development purposes.” Not to knock self-dev books—I’ve read plenty I love—but what’s wrong with reading just for the fun of it?
Sometimes we get so caught up in feeling like we need to constantly grow as individuals. When, in reality, doing creative activities has a slew of health benefits.
Do yourself a favor and unleash your creative side. Start oil painting. Learn how to play the guitar. Turn on some music and make up a dance routine. But most importantly, have fun. By letting yourself do activities that you love, you’ll enjoy the moments you have alone time to do them.
Start treating yourself like you deserve great things.
You’re going to enjoy your company a whole lot more if you start treating yourself better. And if that means indulging in parts of life that make you happy, then I say go for it.
Buy yourself great skincare products. Pay for an online course. Order a meal when you’re too tired to cook.
Of course, don’t go broke during the process; still, be responsible. But all of the above, when done occasionally, is not expensive and makes being alone during the crisis a little easier to handle.
Practice self-compassion. Repeat. Repeat again.
Having compassion for yourself is going to be the key to getting through this sudden new change to your life. Essentially, you have to be kind to yourself when all these difficult feelings come up.
Instead of beating yourself up for feeling anxious, sad, mad, or exhausted, acknowledge them for what they are. Take note that you feel sad and experience it rather than push the emotion down.
When I wake up feeling uneasy, I ask myself, “How can I care for myself today?” Then I implement a tip from above. But if I didn’t allow myself the space to admit that I might not be doing ok and that I deserved care because of that fact, my feelings would consume me.
Some helpful content…
Believe it or not, happiness is a skill, and we can all get better at it. I’m glad I’m not alone in missing coffee shops during the pandemic. Loneliness occurred long before COVID-19 came into existence. If your sleep is messed up, you’re not alone. And maybe it’s finally time to read Wild, you can’t get much more isolated than that.
Until next week... stay sane & healthy.
All the love,
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