I don’t know about y’all, but after one week, I am already a little over social distancing! It’s only been a little over a week, and I am going very stir crazy. Part of the reason it’s been so tough for me is because I live alone. Last week felt like a test-run of being alone Monday through Friday- some things went okay, others left me feeling lonely and drained. (For example- waking up ten minutes before you have to work and spending the day in your pajamas? Felt nice in theory, but by 3 PM I felt gross and the extra time to sleep wasn’t worth it. But lunchtime walks? A total success story.)
A lot of articles about social distancing and working from home are popping up all over the internet- adapting your family lifestyle, working at home with your partner, even dealing with roommates. But the one situation that I haven’t read anything about is living alone. Each situation has its challenges, and I can only speak for my experiences. But, living alone while social distancing can be really tough. If you don’t make the effort to connect with other people that day, you can end up not interacting with anyone the entire day!
Living alone is usually nice- but living alone while working from home, unable to visit your favorite businesses and bars- that is another level of isolation. I am lucky because I have Ryan around on the weekends- he will come over and we have fun staying in and practicing our social distancing. But during the week, I am completely by myself, trapped in 685 square feet. (That is not a lot of room, y’all!)
I feel like I should give the disclaimer that I know there are definitely some advantages to my situation- I have a wonderful apartment (you can get the full tour here), I don’t have to deal with sharing my space, I am uninterrupted while I work, and I’m only responsible for caring for myself. I understand know that working at home is a luxury- I am so unbelievably grateful for my job security, and that I am able to live in a beautiful apartment, working, while the destructive aftermath of this pandemic is hurting so many others.
Like all adjustments, there are challenges to adapting to a new lifestyle- and living alone while social distancing and working from home in an apartment is no different. For example, I’ve never spent this much time without seeing other people. Not being able to even go to a favorite cafe for a coffee, or to a fitness class after work has made me feel a little trapped. The other day I didn’t talk to anyone until 3 PM- I almost lost my mind.
I know that it takes time to adjust, and after a week of missteps and learning from them, here is what I found that helped me. Whether you are experiencing a similar situation or not, I hope they can help you, too.
Take Tech Breaks: Social Media, the News, and Your Phone Breaks
Striking a balance between being connected and being glued to your phone when you live alone can be so tough- my first week home, I was so lonely that I was on Snapchat constantly, texting my friends all day, and scrolling through Twitter nonstop just to have someone to talk to! But, I was also ingesting so much content- it was unhealthy. I was reading constant updates on the virus, looking at Instagram way too much, and none of it was good for my mental health.
I’ve since learned that I feel way happier when I limit my screen time- now, I make sure I am intentional about checking the news and social media. I still am on my phone, but I am also now taking deliberate “phone breaks.” It sounds cheesy, but it works- I find an activity, and I am fully present in that activity. I feel way more peaceful and less anxious, because I am actually taking a break from ingesting all of the negative news and media.
Two of my favorite “phone free” activities are cooking and reading- they are two things that I love to do that I normally don’t have time to do as much, which makes them extra-special. Plus, they both fully require your hands and brain- you can’t cook or read while on Instagram! This week, I’ve been setting a timer for an hour and reading before bed, and cooking a favorite recipe for dinner.
Take Walks and Get Fresh Air
I am a person that craves fresh air and being outside over anything else. I need time outside to be my happiest. I get so stir crazy if I’m inside all day, which has made social distancing very tough.
Something that has helped me is getting fresh air however possible. For me, that means taking long walks for an hour at lunchtime, working on my balcony for an hour at a time, and keeping my balcony door open when the weather is nice.
My long walks have been so therapeutic for me- I wander around Midtown with no destination in mind. It’s a fun way to explore my neighborhood and get some exercise.
This past weekend, Ryan and I also took a walk at Cascade Springs Nature Preserve near Atlanta. It was a great way to escape the city and get some fresh air while avoiding people- getting outside did wonders for my mood. Visiting the waterfall and going on a walk through the woods was calming, and just being able to stretch my legs on the hike was nice.
Move Your Work Around During the Day
In my apartment, I have a few options of where I can work- and none of them are a kitchen table or a desk. I never planned on working from home, so my “set up” is my laptop- that’s it! A lot of people have encouraged me to buy a huge monitor, keyboard, the works- and I know depending on your role, that can help with productivity a lot. My first day working from home, I sat myself up on my kitchen counter with my laptop and planned on making it my desk.
But, after five hours my plan had totally changed. I was stir crazy, doing fine with my laptop, and craving a change of scenery. So, instead of setting up a full desk, I’ve set up a schedule where I move “desks” throughout the day. It helps break up the day, keeps me more focused, and has helped me settle into a routine. Obviously, this strategy may not work for everyone, but it has helped me break away from the famous “crashing on the couch” working from home scenario.
I try to spend an hour or two working on my balcony, or at least in my chair next to it at least with the door open. The fresh air is refreshing, and the sunshine is so good for my mood. Then, I’ll move to the couch, do an hour standing, and even just lay on a rug on the floor! The change in position is much better than hunching over a desk all day- my body feels so much better when I can stretch and change positions. My one rule- no working in my bedroom. It helps me separate work and relaxing/sleep time, which can be hard to do when working from home.
Be Productive Before Work
Being productive before work helps me to be less distracted during the day- it’s hard for me to focus on my laptop when I am staring at a pile of dishes or laundry! Now that I don’t have to spend as much time getting ready and I don’t have my commute, I use that time cleaning, doing laundry, and tackling my spring to do list. That leads me to my next point…
Make the Most of Your Time At Home
A lot of buzz has been going on about how this time is the time to write the great American novel and change the world. Obviously it is a bit drastic, but I like the idea of using this time home to be productive and seeing it as an opportunity. When I realized I was going to be home for a full month, I sat down and wrote out everything I wanted to accomplish and included the tasks that were already on my list and I had been ignoring. I called it my “quarantine spring cleaning list”, and every day I am checking an item off.
Then, I decided that this time without a commute and a lunch hour that I can spend focusing on myself is a good time for some fun, too. So, I am trying to spend an hour or two every day working on my blog. And, maybe doing some extra crafting or lettering.
Everyone has different things they want to focus on- for me, making the most of this time means tackling a to-do list and working on my blog. One is productive, the other is a hobby. No matter your goals, I think it’s important to focus on both- this time can be a gift, letting you accomplish a few tasks, while also letting you slow down and focus on things you wouldn’t have had time to do otherwise. So, for the next four weeks, I am going to clean out my closet, go through some must-dos, and take some time for me to focus on my blog.
Listen to Music and Background Noise
Turning on the radio serves two purposes for me- it brightens my spirits, and it keeps me informed. I love listening to the radio (94.9 The Bull is my Atlanta favorite!) in the morning- the hosts are funny and the country music always lifts my mood. Plus, the virus updates are nice to hear- I know that I’m hearing the latest about Georgia, and for me that means that I can refrain from constantly updating news sites.
When I’m working, I like to put on other music or have a TV show on in the background. It’s important for me to not be distracted, so for me this means no country music, and TV that isn’t one of my regular shows. In fact, I usually listen to Christmas music when I work! It’s cheesy but it always lifts my spirits. I will listen to a playlist on spotify, or put on Netflix’s Fireplace for Your Home Series. The fireplace is the perfect background for working at home- it is so cozy. I also like to put on the Our Planet series if I’m in the mood to mix it up.
Take Breaks While Working
Taking breaks is something that I do normally in the office, but I found my first few days working at home that I wasn’t getting up as often as I normally do. Once I realized that, I started wearing my Apple Watch again (I took it off since I was just working at home), which has reminders to stand. That helped a lot, but wasn’t enough.
A few things that made an even bigger difference were setting reminders on my calendar to move around, and making a big pitcher of water to drink every day. Each morning, I make a large pitcher of lemon water and put it in my fridge. Once I finish a glass, I refill it right away- this helps me get up a lot, between trips to the fridge and trips to the bathroom, haha!
Call and FaceTime Your Loved Ones
It’s such a cliche, but calling your friends and family is a surefire way to make you feel more connected when you live alone. Sometimes I find myself slipping into a mood where I don’t want to call anyone, and I just want to relax in front of the television or a book. I’ve found that when I’m feeling that way, I need to call my family or friends even more. After a quick FaceTime, I always feel like myself again- happy, energised, and grateful for the wonderful people in my life. Now that we are social distancing, I am trying to call someone almost every day.
Find the Positive
The most important thing that I did after the first week of working at home was change my attitude. I started the week off lonely and very anxious over the virus. It’s a lot easier said than done, but finding the best in the situation has helped me cope.
To get some perspective, I made a list of all the positive parts of this situation and wrote them down. When I’m upset about cancelling another trip or not being able to see my friends, looking at my list helps.
Here are a few things on my list:
- More time to work on my blog
- Being able to stay in comfy clothes all day
- Saved money on makeup, hair products, and not going out as much
- More time after work to cook myself dinner
- Getting my rent’s worth
- Not having to walk to work on rainy days
- Slower pace of life- time to relax and reflect
How are you coping with working from home? What did you do to adjust to social distancing? Let me know in the comments!
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