I need a break from people. Often. When I go on a group vacation, within two days I am already fed up with everyone's presence. I have to resist the urge to tell them to stick a cork in their jabbering yapper. I am not a mean person, honestly. I am a charming, funny, and sociable introvert. I just need to get away from the noise of humans for a little while.
Peace and quiet have been a blessing during this pandemic, but even I'm a little tired of being cooped up. When I took the trash out earlier this week, I felt a little agoraphobic. It reminded me of the episode of The Simpsons when Bart has to live in a bubble because, ironically, he has a contagious virus. When he finally emerges from his plastic ball, he said something I could totally relate to: "Sure is sunny. Was the air always this fresh? I'm just gonna hang out in this vent."
If you're getting fed up with the isolation thrust upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic, here are some tips:
Don't shut yourself off completely from the outside world. Call and FaceTime with friends and family. Start a group chat where you share jokes or funny self-isolation observations. Here are a few that people have shared with me:
- "I have never paid much attention to how many toilet paper rolls I have. Now it's like, 'How many squares was that?!?'"
- "I was craving dumplings with peanut butter sauce. Now I've just discovered I have 3 half-eaten jars of peanut butter in my pantry, all of which are expired. I really need to clean out my pantry."
- "Now I can say 'Get the hell away from me' and not offend anyone."
- "I wouldn't let him touch me with a ten-foot pole has so much more meaning when I go for walks."
- "I've had 11 meals and 4 naps today."
- "I'm actually singing a 20-second song to make sure I'm washing my hands correctly. Then I realize that I don't really need to be washing them this frequently and for that duration because I haven't been outside, because, duh, self-isolation."
- "Toilet paper alternatives is a great conversation-starter."
Foster or adopt a pet. The only being in this world who can tolerate me for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is my cat. I can assure you that there are probably hundreds of lonely pets at your local shelter who would love your companionship during the lockdown, and beyond. A lot of animal shelters remain open, but make sure to contact them before showing up, as they will likely have a protocol in place in response to the pandemic. Also, if you decide to adopt a dog, remember that taking care of him or her during a lockdown will be different than if you were to adopt an indoor cat, a bird, or ferret.
A variety of people await you in the world of movies and books. On the weekend, I was invited to have tea with Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy from Little Women. Yesterday, I took part in a paranormal investigation of a haunted hospital with the crew of Ghost Adventures. Tomorrow, I will be solving a case with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. While I don't recommend using escapism as your lone coping strategy, knowing that there are thousands, if not millions, of worlds to explore and people to meet in books and movies may make you feel a little less lonely. You can also start a club online, and meet once a week to discuss different literature or films.
When in Rome...do as the isolated Italians do. Play an instrument or sing from your window, balcony, driveway or front step, and share your gift with the world. If you don't possess any musical talent, put on your favorite song and dance, or organize a sing-a-long online for the people in your neighborhood. Maybe challenge the person who lives across from you to an epic air guitar or lip synch battle.
Consider volunteering. In my city, the mayor made a plea for volunteers to help stock boxes at food banks, or to help give food to the homeless, many of whom were not aware that a pandemic was going on. If you decide to volunteer, make sure to practice all safety measures as recommended by medical experts (wash your hands frequently, and wear gloves). You can also volunteer to pick up groceries for an elderly family member or neighbor, and drop it off in front of their door, or do chores for them (cut the grass, clear debris from winter, plant flowers, etc.).
Don't forget to take the free Pandemic Resilience Test.