Looking Back: A Year Living Alone During A Global Pandemic

One year on, how has life changed for those of us living alone during a global pandemic?

It used to be the stuff of films – then a year ago, the world shut down as Covid-19 swept the planet. Changing our lives in ways we’re only just starting to understand.

I remember the start of the UK lockdown vividly. I was in California visiting friends when the US shut its borders. I rushed home on a nearly empty flight, wearing a respirator mask from my friend’s earthquake preparedness kit the whole way. My birthday was the same week, and I spent it almost entirely alone. The stay-at-home order in England came just three days later – the nation held its breath as the Prime Minister announced the complete restriction of our freedoms. I remember calling my mum, who also lives alone. The crushing realisation that – overnight – we had gone from being able to see each other any time we liked, to it feeling as though we were living on opposite sides of the world.

We’re only just starting to understand the full impact of a year under Covid. But one year on, there seven things that have clearly changed for people living alone.

1. Our finances have been affected

Some of us have done well financially during Covid. We’ve saved money by working at home, and we’ve spent less because we haven’t been going out to restaurants, the hairdressers, shopping, or the gym. Others of us have struggled. We’ve lost income, and in some cases lost jobs. For some of us, the future still seems uncertain. Either way, it’s clear Covid has had a big impact on the finances of those living alone.

2. Our lives have gone in unexpected directions

Some of us have had to put some of our plans on hold – travel, dating, moving or decorating our homes, fertility treatment and adoption. For others, Covid has been the catalyst for our lives to change in unexpected ways. We’ve taken career breaks, retrained, left our jobs and found new ones, moved across country, and made new friends. Whatever our circumstances, it’s clear that the lives of people living alone during a global pandemic look quite different over the last year to what we’d planned.

3. We’ve learnt who we can count on

We’ve seen people for who they are, and realised who’ll be there for us when times are tough – and also who won’t. For some of us, that’s been a really painful process. For others, it’s been a chance to free ourselves up from connections we already knew weren’t serving us. On the positive side, we’ve built deeper connections, reconnected with old friends, and built brand new friendships, sometimes in the most unexpected places. We’ve also learnt who the most important people are to us.

4. We’ve learnt how to be alone

We’ve read and written books, we’ve gardened, gotten creative, done DIY and video gamed. We’ve built healthy routines, and found ways to handle our solitude. We’ve made the most of social media to connect and stay connected, and we’ve learnt to take life at a slower pace. We’ve learnt to enjoy the little things, we’ve enjoyed the outdoors, and we’ve felt more engaged and present. We’ve learnt that having a meaningful connection with ourselves is worth its weight in gold.

5. And some of us have enjoyed it more than we thought we would

There’s been relief for some of us in not feeling any pressure to socialise. For the first time, it’s been ‘okay’ to stay at home – we’ve realised that we don’t need to be ‘on the go’ any more, and we’ve reveled in the quiet and simplicity. We’ve felt freed up from FOMO – the fear of missing out – and we’ve enjoyed our space and thinking time more than we thought we would.

6. We’ve felt it

Like so many others, we’ve lost loved ones and grieved. Some of us have seen and felt first-hand the awful effects of Covid. We’ve missed our people, hugs, kisses, and we’ve missed travel. And, at times, we’ve felt lonely, bored and isolated and our mental health has suffered.

7. We’ve realised we’re stronger than we thought

On the plus side, we’ve learnt to rely on ourselves, and found strength we didn’t know we had. We’ve solved problems creatively, we’ve reached out, we’ve become calm, strong, resolved and resilient. We’ve drawn on inner resources to manage ourselves and the crisis happening around us. And we’ve see what we can do, in ways we never thought possible.

Final thought

A year living alone during a global pandemic has shown us that life can change in a heartbeat. And we’re grateful, for everything we have, and will have again in the future.

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