How to be Alone but Not Lonely

For many of us we are on our third week of sheltering in place and we are likely experiencing a long list of new feelings. If you happen to live alone you may be struggling with loneliness. There is no doubt that isolation is challenging but there is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. Being alone is a state of being or solitude. Being lonely is a feeling. Lots of people who have not lived alone don’t understand the distinction. The reality is you can feel lonely in the middle of a crowed of people or sitting next to someone on the sofa. Don’t let yourself think because your alone you’re lonely. HuffPost does a nice job of outlining the difference between the two states.

So the key to this time of voluntary quarantine is to get or maintain a positive state of mind. With everything going on right now being positive is challenging but possible. 

This alone time can actually be therapeutic – it’s a pause on your previous life/routine so take advantage of it. One of the keys to being happy while alone is to stay busy and do things that make you happy. 

How can you stay or get happy?

  • Do things you like – It’s pretty simple, if you do things you like it will make you happy. If you love to cook, pull out those recipes and cook away. You can always freeze parts of what you make for later. If you love to read and usually don’t have time to, start reading. If you have been meaning to get into shape, start walking each day (practicing social distancing of course.) Personally, I have to get exercise every day. Those endorphins really help keep me balanced. I have noticed an increase in the number of people walking and running and that is a nice positive outcome of this pandemic.
  • Stay busy – A body in motion is healthier so assign yourself projects each day. If you allow yourself to be bored you are more likely to experience depression, fear and anxiety. I literally give myself assignments each day. I joke with my friends that “today, the head of finance had me do my bills” or the “head of maintenance had me do spring cleaning” or “the head of design had me go through my closet and drawers and create sell, keep and donate piles.” Doing things also gives you a sense of accomplishment and control during a time when it’s tough to feel that way.
Staying busy & getting exercise is key
  • Stay in touch – try to watch news in moderation and instead connect with family and friends. This strange time can and should bring us together vs split us apart. Call your friends and family to check in on them. You’ll find your calls are longer and more genuine. I live in a city and on warm nights we chat from balcony to balcony. We are actually getting to know neighbors across the street we never knew before.
  • Help others if you can –  If you are lucky enough to have a nest egg help others  if you can.  I realize many Americans have been laid off or are concerned with their jobs but there are real pockets of need today. The elderly are not only at most rick but may be going hungry –, donate directly to the Coronavirus Pandemic who help with supplies, healthcare professionals. There are so many choices – Servers , Broadway performers and hungry children. Nearly 22 million children are fed at school through the National School Lunch Program and this meal may be the only quality meal a child gets. Since they are not going to school those children may be going hungry. I’ve chosen some established National organizations but here are local options as well. Check out options in your area. You may even have a neighbor in need.
  • Take Inventory – Ok, this is a heavy one. The world is on pause so take the time to really look at your life. Where you’re going, your career, relationships, interests/hobbies and you’re dreams.  This quarantine makes it easy to distinguish the difference between what we need and what we want. It really comes down to defining the best way to feed your soul. I love this article from, it outlines 33 ways to feed your soul.                                                        

In summary, its a strange and new world but we will all make it through with patience, creativity and compassion.

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Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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