During the age of the coronavirus pandemic the ins and outs of everyday living have drastically changed. Some of the most challenging issues have arisen as a result of the stripping away of our once ever present coping strategies like working out at the gym, group fitness, dinner or bar hopping with friends, or an escape to a movie theater. The absence of coping strategies can lead to problems in other areas of our lives like anxiety, sleep difficulties, learning of new and ambiguous roles (caregiver, teacher) and routines, trouble concentrating, sadness and/or depression. There is no doubt that this pandemic has created higher levels of conflict in homes and in our society.
Now that we are in lockdown mode, many of the aforementioned stressors are exacerbated by those needing alone time in the midst of staying home more. Researchers have found that everyone benefits from alone time, even those regarded as “social butterflies.” For households with children home from school or daycare to roommates working from home, uninterrupted time can be elusive and lead to major frustration. Not being able to occasionally “close off” or “shut down” our brains can leave us mentally exhausted, overwhelmed, irritable and agitated.
Finding alone time daily is good for our mental health. Here are some steps to take to find your quiet freedom in lockdown:
- Understand the Value of Alone Time: Our brains need a break from constant stimulation. Alone time is not selfish – it’s a form of self-care that needs to be available, valued, respected and protected.
- Talk It Out Before It is Acted Out: Ask each person to share their needs for time alone. Honor each person’s needs and be consistent in your plan of action to ensure the continuity and success over time.
- Create Boundaries: As the lines between work, family, personal and leisure become increasing ambiguous, it is important to set clear boundaries, expectations, and limits in our “new normal.” Boundaries in our lives can serve to protect our emotional and mental health.
- Create Alone Time Quiet Spaces: This can be accomplished in homes by the use of designated areas, signage and/or scheduling.
- Remember the Things You Can Control: Alone time can be achieved when turning off your phone, taking a walk or drive/bike ride, home exercising, waking earlier than others, having a nap, and extended times bathing or toileting.
- Be Flexible: Remember that all great plans need tweaking, revising and sometimes scrapping for the creation of an entirely new and improved plan. It is important to be mindful that we all may occasionally unintentionally violate the expectations of others. Should this happen, extend forgiveness quickly as this is a new learning curve for everyone.