Being Solo & Staying Grounded During Quarantine
Tips to Improve Mental and Physical Health in Isolation
By Carly Lutz
Like many young people, I have historically prided myself on being independent. In the past, I’ve felt genuine contentment and a sense of liberation with living and exploring solo in the cities I’ve lived in. Pre-quarantine, I was also good at filling up my schedule to ensure I felt free and independent, but never truly alone or lonely. I created distractions — always having somewhere to be, someone to meet, something to do, or somewhere to go. Never really sitting still.
Quarantine has changed all of that — my independence has translated into loneliness, and the fact that I am alone has never been more apparent or glaring. It is palpable, and sometimes starkly painful.
Quarantine has exposed me to my own insecurities and ways that I’ve historically leaned on external validation or ‘busy-ness’ to make me feel seen, heard, and loved. It has highlighted how my activities and constant movement was often just a cover-up for the loneliness laid underneath the constant ‘go go go.’ Quarantine opened my eyes to the organized chaos I had come accustomed to creating to make me feel good.
It took a global pandemic for me to realize this: While feeling and being independent and ‘doing things’ is great, it can often teeter on unhealthy. Constantly spreading ourselves too thin and over-committing to activities, friends, a manager/boss, etc is self-destructive and exhausting, and often prevents us from exploring who we really are or what we truly want.
Quarantine has offered me the space and time to explore who I am and how I operate when alone — to catch myself before I spray the ink and make my canvas blurry.
So — to all those who are quarantining ‘solo’ and/or who are confused on how to spend this time, I offer you a few ways that I have found helpful to stay sane and get to know my ‘solo self’ better during this bizarre time.
Strip Back Expectations & Lean Into the Now: There has been a lot of hooplas circulating about the opportunity for heightened productivity and creativity during the quarantine. For example, many are encouraging us to use this time as Isaac Newton did in the early 20s when the great plague hit. While the notion of inventing and ideating in isolation is inspiring, it also sets very unrealistic expectations for a lot of us. In contrast to this notion of expecting wildly productive spurts of brilliance during this time, I was comforted by author Glennon Doyle’s recent post: “I have not written a word during quarantine. Just a reminder to worried artists — there are times for creating and times for becoming the person who will create the next thing. For many of us, this is a becoming time. Rest and become. Love you.” Give yourself the time to do whatever the hell it is your mind, body, and soul needs and craves.
Create Consistency & Seek Rhythm: Research shows that over time, repetition creates new neural pathways in the brain and helps us form new habits. During this time at home, we can play around with different repetitive actions and thoughts to experiment with what makes us feel good. For example, maybe try three deep breaths in the morning at 9 am every week. Write down a mantra in your journal and look at it every night before you go to bed. Talk to an important friend or relative on the first Sunday of every month. Commit to a weekly yoga class. Try to do at least one thing or activity at a regular cadence to remind your brain that you are committed to yourself and your own well-being. These repetitive actions and positive thoughts can help you find a rhythm and build confidence.
Unplug & Indulge: I have personally found joy in little indulgences, like spending that extra hour in bed or eating that extra piece of steak or fudge brownie. I encourage you to spend some extra time doing or eating something that feels like a luxury. For me, the only time I let myself lay in bed late is typically when I am in a relationship or with a group of friends. It is only when I am surrounded by others that I give myself permission to lay in bed and feel content. Solo Carly, on the other hand, has historically considered spending a day in bed with a good book or Netflix show as wasted time, a missed opportunity to create, connect, build, learn, etc… See if you can practice feeling whole all by yourself, by indulging yourself in something you wouldn’t normally justify doing without a buddy or lover there beside you.
To all those who are quarantining solo, consider taking this time to really get to know yourself, take inventory, and be curious — rather than shameful or judgmental — about what comes up. That way when the social ‘you’ is re-unveiled, you will be more grounded yet energized than ever.
Carly Lutz is a yoga teacher, community marketing manager, and energetic collaborator based in San Francisco. Carly first discovered yoga five years ago after making the difficult decision to step away from running on University of San Diego’s D1 women’s team. After watching so many of her teammates get injured and burned out, she was in search of exercise that integrated playfulness and rejuvenation with physical challenge for a feel-good, sweat-filled workout. She quickly fell in love with how Vinyasa yoga made her feel and the intentional breath to movement cadence of the yoga practice. She came to deeply appreciate the emphasis on form and being kind to your body and mind. In the midst of navigating a new city and finding her own sense of purpose while working for various startup companies in SF, Carly increasingly craved yoga and became determined to materialize her passions for leadership, health and education, and personal development through yoga teaching.
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