As a single person who has lived on her own for a long time, I am used to having time by myself. I am, or rather was, very sociable. I still am. Daily catch ups with friends and family via technology has ensured I am still connected.
I didn’t think ‘lock down’ would be difficult. Having travelled extensively alone through Asia and Australia, wouldn’t cause me too many challenges!
Or so I thought.
Also, I’ve used Skype for years to stay connected when I have lived abroad and have worked from home for long periods of time. This is different.
Physical contact: this was not something I thought would be an issue. In fact I hadn’t really ever thought about itSeeing a live human face, that is pleased to see you and missing the hugs of friends has been more challenging than the mental aspects of this period.
My weekends were usually spent out on long walks, coffees, lunches, and browsing the shops, with others. All gone.
The sense of ‘aloneness’ felt overwhelming on Saturday morning until I realised it was the physical contact that I was missing. Recognising that has helped, for now.
Alcohol: I drink socially, usually no more than 2 glasses of wine when I am out with friends or someone comes round for dinner.I did a virtual wine get together and because I was home and the bottle was open, I drank it.
I will do the get together again, but without the alcohol. I won’t buy any alcohol until lock down is over.
My liver will thank me for that.
Fed up being told to use this time to do everything and more? Or sign up for loads of free courses? Yip that is me!
I have a very large rucksack filled with travel and life memorabilia that has moved at least 3 times with me. Bags of old photos that need scanned. Other things I just don’t usually have time to do or will get done when I have time include watching tv series, podcasts, stretch sessions on my yoga mat, write blogs and the list goes on.
It is so easy to beat myself up about not doing these things and the crazy lady voice in my head is more caustic, because before I had the excuse, I was so busy, I didn’t have time for these things.
Procrastination, I hate that word, it smacks of failure. I resent it hanging over me.
Last week I recognised I had to do something, or the gnawing guilt would chip away and build up even more resistance to tackling the to-do list. Changing habits is about doing things differently.
There is a technique called elastic habits by Stephen Guise that has you create a series of goals to create a habit.
One goal is so small it really is insignificant, a medium one that stretches you and then a BIG one.
I have taken this technique and for my huge bag of photos, I have a target of 20, 50 or 100 photos to be sorted and scanned each day (for a max of 5 days in any week).
For the stretches, whilst waiting for the kettle to boil or whilst brushing my teeth, I do either 10, 30 or 60 squats. It has been surprising that once I have started, I can continue for longer than the target. There has even been a day where I've "pushed" through the barrier of wanting to stop, to do just another 15 minutes to get a task done.
My second technique is called pops of joy. Whether it is 10 squats or 20 photos that I am achieving, it gives me a little thrill. A pop of joy.
I’ve been active on social media for over 10 years and never thought I would go a day without. I had to switch it off. I was getting angry, sad and upset. I felt bombarded by ‘free stuff’. I decided for just one day to switch it all off. One day became two and it really helped. The world didn’t end, and I didn’t miss out.
Complete veg day! No, I don’t mean vegetarian, but a day where I don’t do anything if I don’t want too. Watch mindless tv, read that trashy novel, or just sleep. My guilt free day.
Thank you, Barbara for this open and honest reflection of "aloneness". This will be affecting many people during the lockdown. Your little tricks and reframing are awesome!
With love, Lynda
If you are finding things difficult please reach out and talk to someone. It is tough, any change is difficult.
Barbara and I, and many other people around you, will do what we can to support you. Please reach out. Ask for help. Talk to others.
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