Lifestyle: Overcoming Loneliness When Living Alone

Now, I’ve never officially lived alone. During my second and final year at university I lived with some of the best housemates ever. After a summer flitting between both of our parental homes, me and W moved in together pretty quickly after we graduated. Something glinting on the second finger of my left hand seems to suggest I won’t be getting rid of him anytime soon!

 photo Dealing with Loneliness4_zpsechxyd4b.jpgBut I have spent a few good chunks of time on my own. During my placement year I had a rather odd living situation (I rented a spare room – with a lovely live-in landlady, her partner, three dogs and a cat) and would regularly have the house to myself for a couple of weeks. And, of course, this January W spent the month in Chile. So I’ve definitely had my fair share of living alone – and I’ve definitely worked out what makes it a not-so-great experience, and how to make it work.

Plan Something Fun

During my placement year, I saw W pretty every other weekend. Much as I hated our LDR, it gave me something to look forward to – and we always made the most of our time (no vegetating on the sofa for a whole Saturday…). Whether it was exploring a cute little village I’d discovered, heading to a new cafe or getting the train to Brighton, having something to look forward to made the lonely evenings worth it!

I remembered that when he was away, and made plans months in advance. Some fell through, but I was so grateful to spend the weekend with one of my best friends, and also another weekend with my Mummy. Both involved stuffing ourselves silly with pie. One involved homeware browsing and bargain coat-buying. The other involved a lot of cake and a theatre trip. Both were just what I needed to keep my occupied!

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Schedule in Girly Time

Now it might just be me, but sometimes I feel a litttttleeeee selfish when I have girly time when I live with W. Much as I love smoothing on a facemask, lighting some candles and painting my nails, there’s always something else to do! We love baking together, playing on the Xbox – even our usual messing around just isn’t possible during a pamper evening (wen you’ve seen the damage a tickle fight does to freshly painted nails you’ll understand!). Him being away gave me the excuse to have perfectly manicured nails, I used a facemask every other day and I danced to Taylor Swift every night.

Oh, and I was able to watch Bridget Jones, 50 First Dates AND Bride Wars without anyone whinging all the way through it. #Winning!

Have a Backup/Emergency Plan

Now, I’m quite accident prone. In fact, I’m really proud of the fact that I only had ONE accident during January (picked up a pan that had been in the oven with bare hands; 3 fingers and my thumb on my writing hand blistered…). But accidents like this aside, I made sure someone nearby had spare keys to our flat/block (because I was convinced I would lock myself out – I didn’t). I made W show me exactly where the fuse box/water supply bits etc were so I could ‘fix’ things in an emergency. I made a big effort to make friends locally so I had people I could rely on in an emergency.

As you can see, I’m a planner. I didn’t need to do that, I had no emergencies, but it gave me a massive peace of mind.

Batch Cook

Weirdly, I had absolutely no problem with cooking for myself every night at university. This January, however, I hated it. I would get home from work, study for an hour or two, then realise I had to cook. Quite often it was nearing 10pm before I sat down with some food. Trust me, the h-anger was real!

For the last few weeks I got into a routine where I’d prep a few things over the weekend (even if it was just chopping veg) and it definitely helped. There was less relying on pizza – and it’s put me in a better meal-prep frame of mind now he’s back too!

Background Noise

Normally I’m a lover of silence. I don’t listen to music. I work/study without any background noice. I rarely use headphones. However even I needed SOME background noise when in a house on my own. My favourite trick is to put the radio on, as the chit-chat at least makes me feel like I’m having a conversation – I had one study day where I didn’t speak AT ALL to anyone. Sad day!
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Get Out

It got to around 4pm one study day in January when I realised I hadn’t spoken a single word. I wandered to Sainsbury’s and it made me feel SO much better. Until I figured out that I’d used the self-service checkouts and still hadn’t spoken to anyone…

But still, just getting out and about will instantly make you feel a bit less secluded. I also found it a great excuse to bulk take photos for my Instagram feed – W hates me taking snaps of random houses, so doing it when he wasn’t amount (plus overcast January days work so well for outside photography!) worked out nicely.

Don’t Watch Scary Things

Now, I’m a huge fan of Silent Witness. I love it. I think it’s one of the most realistic crime dramas about, the acting is excellent and it’s pretty much true to scientific detail. Some of the episodes in the 2017 season were some of the best I’ve watched, and that in itself was a massive, massive problem. The first story was about a human trafficking ring, and I watch it the first weekend W was away. It had some pretty horrifying scenes and despite not being overly sensitive it really affected me. Lesson learnt, only watch nice things!
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Make The Most Of It!

For me, having W away meant I could be hugely productive. I could get up at 6am and exercise. I could study for a few hours after work, come home and still squeeze in a few hours of blogging. Those few weeks meant I managed to catch up on my study plan (events over my Christmas holiday meant I was quite a bit behind where I wanted to be), and I got a shit-tonne of blog posts drafted up and scheduled. Oh, and it helps to stockpile your favourite chocolate too!

It also meant I could starfish in a king-size bed. Not have to keep putting the toilet seat down. Eat mushrooms and seafood. Have cushions and blankets covered the sofa.

And it all that fails, get a dog!

(I’m joking with the last one. Obviously only get a dog if your circumstances are right. But I definitely would be getting one if W had to go away regularly!)

Do you, or have you, lived alone? How did you deal with the loneliness? 

  • For my final year of university I lived alone – my flatmate and I alternated in/out of Bristol placements. Because I spent all day on placement in a hospital, I actually really enjoyed coming home to an empty flat and just being alone! I’m quite content with my own company, so was happy enough to spend the weekends going out by myself but it was nice to also try and arrange to meet up with other friends and just go out for lunch or pop over for a cup of tea and a chat. I think looking at the positives is the best way to deal with it – all that nice time to look after yourself and be selfish! And phone calls to friends and family help too 🙂
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Wellbeing & Lifestyle

  • Jessi

    I love being alone (when I know there’s a fixed end date. LDR – notsomuch). I love eating copious amounts of mac ‘n’ cheese (how can someone not like cheese?!); making a charcuterie-style board with prosciutto, interesting cheeses and far too much baguette for one person and calling it dinner (again, see previous remark); going to bed really early and starfishing out, and then waking up early the next morning with the whole day ahead of me at the weekend… the list goes on. I deal with most of the logistics of running a house (meal planning, shopping, cooking, bill paying, sorting out the best current account/ISA/internet provider) and the bulk of the diary management with visits up north to see everyone who isn’t a work colleague, so it’s SO nice sometimes to have a break from the barrage of questions about x or y thing. I sound far more put upon than I actually am, but you know when it’s just easier to do it yourself?!

  • I’m so with you on many of these tips! When I was in Spain last year for year abroad it sometimes felt like I was living alone, since I lived with two other girls and some days I may not see them all day because of university schedules etc. If I was going through a period of feeling homesick I could feel a lot worse too! But I agree with you on getting out, even just for 5 minutes. On the weekends was when I could feel at my loneliest if my friends weren’t about, so I made sure to get out and take pictures and enjoy the feeling of having a wander, even if it was just a few minutes down the road. Very relatable post!

    http://www.trafficjamlife.co.uk

  • This is a great post. Rich goes away a LOT so I’m often on my own, but luckily for us I actually quite enjoy it, mostly for similar reasons to you. I also definitely can’t watch anything scary when I’m on my own, so I have to save those for when Rich is around (which is why I had to wait so long to watch Stranger Things). I’m glad W is back now though 🙂

    Rachel x
    The Inelegant Wench