Lockdown loneliness vs. lockdown overload: thoughts on time in isolation

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By Rebecca Widdowson, First Year, Sociology

The Croft Magazine // In a time when many of us are either spending a lot of time apart from loved ones or are unable to get space to ourselves, it can be challenging to know how to strike a balance.

My time in lockdown has been varied to say the least. If I had to try and describe it, I would say the events of my day bounce back and forth between two extremes.

First of all I have a lot of free time. One might describe it as an unnecessary amount of free time. Having moved back home, every day of the last two months appears to have followed the same formula. Meal times may be busy but the hours in between them are lonesome. Most of the time I’m doing some form of uni work, or at least procrastinating on doing it.

After lunch I’ll move onto doing my own thing; if the weather is nice I’ll sit in the garden and read or listen to music. But this is when time seems to stretch and lengthen. The afternoon drags on and on and on. The worst time of the day is the hour before dinner – I am feeling hungry but am not able to snack. So what do I do? I actually have no idea to be honest. And for me, that’s the worst thing. The idea that time passes but I haven’t got anything to show for it.

My best advice for anyone experiencing the same problem starts with putting your phone down. I don’t even want to think about the amount of time I’ve lost scrolling aimlessly through Instagram. I’m getting to the point now where I’m starting to recognise a lot of the posts I see. This is bad. I don’t need a reminder of how much of my life is spent on that app.

Instead, I’ve tried to learn some new skills and tricks that not only help to keep me occupied but also give me something to show for my time spent in lockdown. At the moment, I’m learning to play the guitar. 10/10 would recommend. It has meant that I can add tuneless twanging to my list of special skills but, more importantly, has given me something fun to do. I’ve also found a number of online courses, most of which are running free of charge at the moment, that help to boost linguistic skills, historical knowledge and even citizenship certifications.

| How self-isolation can disrupt your sleep cycle - and how to tackle it

My second problem, amazingly, is that my evenings are fully booked. Somehow I have more of a social life than before lockdown. Oh what a cruel joke the universe is playing on me! When I’m not on the phone to friends, both old and new, I’m having endless movie marathons with my family into the early hours of the next day. My sleep pattern may actually be worse than when I was living in halls! But the silver lining here is that I completely smash any and all quiz rounds involving film trivia.

It’s obviously almost impossible to meet up with friends and family during this time, especially when they live further away, so we have to make do with video chats instead. And as great as it can be to see a whole group of people it can also feel difficult when you can’t seem to get a word in edgeways. One of those ‘feeling lonely in a crowd’ dilemmas.

It helps to talk to people, especially those from outside your household

I’ve learnt that the best way to deal with this issue is to stand your ground. Don’t feel up to talking to people? That’s okay, you should never feel forced to chat when you don’t want to. Just be careful to maintain regular contact with friends and family, because it helps to talk to people, especially those from outside your household. But never force yourself into a situation where you’re not invested in the conversation: you’ll spend the entire time resenting having logged on to the chat in the first place.

It’s much better to take an evening to yourself every now and again. I cannot emphasise enough how amazing baths are for your mental and physical wellbeing. There is no end to the number of problems I have managed to think through in the bath. And the number of times I have injured myself just by getting on my bike is inconsequential next to the number of relaxing soaks I’ve enjoyed afterwards. Moral of the story is that stress is bad, and baths are good.

If you don’t have much of a routine at the moment – get one

More importantly, what I’ve come to realise is that the idea of having a routine is central to both feeling alone and feeling overwhelmed. So it can help to try and control your day by scheduling time to yourself or arrange to do things with the other people in my household. Or if you don’t have much of a routine at the moment – get one.

Now, more than ever, is the time to get yourself into a day-to-day pattern. Obviously this can cause you to feel as though every day becomes the same. My best advice for when you’re feeling like you’re living in Groundhog Day is to try shaking things up. Instead of following your routine, maybe swap your activities around. Just be sure to keep mealtimes the same – trust me, your body won’t like you for changing feeding time.

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I think this crazy time has given us the tendency to momentarily forget that other people exist. All we can see are our own four walls and we’re tricked into thinking that we’re the only person who’s experiencing this dilemma.

Don’t let that continue! If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to consider the problem outside yourself. Try to think about how other people you know are coping with the current crisis and how we’re all in this together. Make sure you talk to someone if you’re feeling isolated or overwhelmed. I promise, you’ll feel better. Keep busy and keep safe in these weird and wonderful times.

Featured image: Epigram/ Rebecca Widdowson


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