I’ve always been a “I have roommates” person. I’ve never lived with less than three other people (periods of living with my family included) and have gotten used to the chaos that is living with other people with different lives and schedules and priorities. But a couple of months ago, I decided it was time for me to experience living alone—I found a one-bedroom apartment and mentally prepared for having my own space.
All of my coworkers at The Everygirl live alone (or have in the past) and rave about the experience. It’s peaceful and allows you to figure yourself out and leaves you in control of your living space. I was so excited to finally have my own home and experience real solo-time for the first time in my life.
Then COVID-19 happened.
The literal day I moved into my solo apartment, I got the email that The Everygirl was working remotely until further notice due to COVID-19. Not only did I have to get used to being alone, but now I had to do it in addition to not going to work or having other interactions with people that I planned on depending on. I’m no stranger to working from home—The Everygirl works remotely on Tuesdays and Fridays—but as many of you know already, this is a different beast. Being self-isolated while also living alone comes with a lot of anxiety—and a lot of days that feel more like weeks.
It’s been over a week of self-isolation (and even longer since being in our office), and I’ve had to buckle down and take control of my days to prevent myself from going crazy. There have been some rough moments, but these are the ways my extroverted self has made these unpredictable days a little more bearable while living alone.
1. Set a schedule—and stick to it.
I’m not generally a big schedule person—especially on work-from-home days. But during this unconventional time, I’ve discovered how vital a schedule is to my days. Working in an office naturally leads to a routine—waking up, getting ready, heading out for your commute at the same time. But working from home? It’s a free-for-all.
Every workday, I write down my schedule in the morning and stick to it for my entire workday. I write in physical activity and breaks and meals (not just cheese and crackers) to make sure I’m not working from my bed all day.
2. Eat real meals
When you’re at home, it’s easy to snack all day and never take the time to actually cook something (or support a small business by ordering a takeout meal). Factor in three real meals every day, and take the time to cook for yourself and give your body the nutrients it needs—it’ll help your overall mood more than anything else can.
3. Schedule time to talk to people
Never did I think that 2020 would consist of needing to schedule a set time to Facetime or call someone in order to make human contact, but here we are. It’s easy to text a friend or family member to check in on them, but it’s different to actually make use of your vocal chords and speak to someone. In the morning, I call my mom and talk to her while I’m making my breakfast; and every night, I Facetime my sister while I’m eating dinner. It reminds me that I’m not alone in this, and everyone is in the same boat. (I’m still trying to talk my coworkers into an all-day group Skype call to keep each other company, but they aren’t sold just yet).
4. Play music (or turn on the TV)
For me, the weirdest part of living alone is the opportunity to have absolute silence. It’s eerie and something that’s wonderful at times, but it also takes some getting used to. It definitely is not something that I enjoy now, given that I’ve been home for over a week, so as soon as I wake up, I play a Spotify playlist on my Alexa. Having some noise in any form in the background helps to distract me from the fact that I’m alone, and sometimes, that’s all I need.
5. Move your body
When all of this began to go down, I made one goal: continue to hit my move goal on my Apple watch every day, no matter what it takes to get there. I’ve been having fun keeping up with the challenge since I haven’t been able to use my usual routes to get there. If I have extra calories I need to burn at night, I’ll queue up a yoga video or stream a quick HIIT workout, and it makes all the difference.
I’ve been working out in the morning, which I find helps my mentality in the early part of the day, but come evening, my body forgot that it ever moved at all. If you have a fitness tracker, setting a goal is a great way to remind yourself you have to move. If you don’t, set a reminder on your phone every few hours to tell yourself it’s time to do some sort of physical activity—no matter what it is.
6. Stay away from the news (and social media)
I am a journalist at heart; I majored in editorial journalism and respect journalists and all of those producing high-quality work to inform the country about what’s really going on with COVID-19 every day. But while living alone, the constant stream of COVID-19 content is overwhelming, and quite frankly, unbearable. Every time I open any social media platform, I’m reminded of new developments in the country that are important to hear but spark a lot of panic when you only have you and your thoughts to entertain you.
Instead of spending time on social media, I’ve bought a few books on my Kindle to turn to when I feel the need to scroll. It allows my mind to escape for a while, rather than diving deeper into a frenzy of “what ifs” that all forms of media are causing.
7. Keep up with your usual routines
Since none of us are leaving the house, it’s easy to work all day in what you slept in and never wash your face or do your hair—but still doing those things makes all the difference.
I’m never going to be a wear-jeans-while-I-work-from-home person, but I do make sure that no matter what, I change out of what I wore to bed. Generally, that means leggings and a sweatshirt, but it still helps me transition into a workday mentality.
While I’m not here doing a full face of makeup, I do like throwing on a little mascara and bronzer in the morning to feel good and put-together throughout the day—even though it’s just for me. Putting that sense of normalcy back into my days has changed how I feel all day long.