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I’ve been living on my own now for two years.
It’s been a character-building experience that while I recommend for everyone to try at least once in they life, I’m also aware it doesn’t come without its challenges.
My experience of living alone started on the brink of the pandemic. Just a few months before COVID-19 hit, my sister, who was my housemate, moved out to London and I stayed in Australia. I found a small studio to move into to get settled, and I was excited to have my little corner of the world—a place where I could design my surroundings in any way I wanted, be whoever I wanted, and just experience independence on my own terms. If you come from a cultural background where family interference is the norm, you know that this kind of freedom is a sweet release.
But no one could’ve prepared me for the loneliness I felt. Once the excitement wore off, the pandemic began and I did not manage isolation well at all. Every time someone posted a TikTok video of a dance they did with their partner or a family bake-off, I just felt like I had no one to share these experiences with. All my family was overseas, and I was single and living alone.
It took me a few months till I started to create a routine for myself that got me out of the trenches. To be quite honest, I’d say it took me a little over a year to find myself in a solid, happy place. When I was struggling then, I definitely had my happy moments too. It wasn’t all bad but I wasn’t feeling consistent joy. I think when you’re experiencing big changes, you don’t feel “good” until the change is done. There’s this expression that says “a caterpillar disappears in its own transformation.” I think that’s very true. You don’t see yourself clearly when you’re in the process of changing until you become the butterfly, but before that, you’re in a kind of metamorphosis fog.
I learned that there are essentials to keeping a healthy state of mind. That having nonnegotiable values around health is necessary for success and fulfilment. Knowing it theoretically is one thing, but practicing it completely turned my life around.
Whether you live alone or with others, these are the rituals I recommend trying if you want to fill your cup:
It starts with the night before
If you have a good winding down routine, you wake up feeling so much more refreshed. I like to get into bed an hour earlier before sleep to make sure I have enough time to transition between the day and night. I think abruptly deciding it’s time to sleep doesn’t give our brains a chance to process the day and let go of any energetic overload.
I make a cup of sleepy tea (anything with chamomile, lavender, valerian root, spearmint, passionflower, or whatever you fancy), then I put five drops of a “sleep easy” spagyric formulation under my tongue. It’s like a concentrated formula of some of those herbs. It tastes wonderful, and also sets the intention in my mind that I’m about to sleep soon.
I wind down the lights, switch on my bluetooth speaker, and get my sleep playlist rolling. I recommend looking up Miracle Tones and listening to their “Bianural Beats – Sleep (Delta Waves)” album. Other times, I feel a bit wordy and I have more of a Norah Jones playlist going. Depending on the kind of day I’m having, it will be something to suit the mood. I also recommend something standard like Yoga Nidra, if you don’t want music but are looking for some quiet, guided meditation.
Lots of research is now showing that gazing at morning light anywhere from five to 20 minutes can optimise brain function and circadian rhythm. The eyes need to absorb light, and preferably from being outside and not just from rolling the blinds up (though that’s still better than being in a dark room). I started a ritual of getting out of my apartment within the first 30 minutes of waking and going on a short walk to the park, sitting on a bench, and simply looking at low-angle sunlight. I use a light meter app that measures how much sunlight is present to me, and most of the time, it’s well over a 1000 lux. Dr. Huberman has a podcast that goes into depth about this.
It helps to hold off on coffee the first two hours of waking so as not to disturb the body’s natural cortisol level. Meditation with a big jug of water can be a good habit to get into. On weekends, I’ll usually do my meditation in the park with coffee, but on regular work days, I do it from home. I recommend meditations by Sarah Blondin if you need an emotional release, or Dr. Joe Dispenza if you want to connect with your vision of the future, or Mooji if you feel like being simply present and empty of worry. There are plenty of guided meditations out there to choose from, but these have to be my favourites.
You could also sit in complete stillness with your thoughts, do breath work, or listen to the sounds of the world around you. There are many paths that ultimately lead to the same place. Finding something you like is key to consistency.
I jot down what I need to get done in my curation diary. It’s the brain dump I need so I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything. I see where I can schedule a workout or reading time in, too. It’s essential that the to-do list doesn’t get wrapped up in work tasks or life admin only, but also something that keeps me connected to my mission.
I stopped calling it “exercise” this year. I now schedule it in as my “sweat” time. There’s something about the idea of sweating out the day and releasing any tension, mind and body, that makes it more appealing for me. My inner monologue seems to really have a love of words that accurately represent my emotions. I do a HIIT workout three times a week. This has truly changed my life and my body. I used to despise HIIT workouts and always had a preference for slow, weighted exercise instead. But since discovering the magical endorphin release and therapeutic benefits of it—I’ve converted. It helps to have an exciting playlist that hypes you up. I’ve found that when I’m pushed, I get excited, and this has a wonderful snowball effect on all aspects of my life. I become my own cheerleader.
Ever since I went vegan two years ago, unfortunately, it created hormonal havoc for me. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but it certainly was for me. I’ve started incorporating a moderate amount of protein in my diet from all different sources, but I do try to be as sustainable as possible and I look for plant-based options wherever I can. As long as the rule is this: I have 25 grams of protein with every meal. This has changed my body. The right supplements also make a world of a difference. Make sure to check if you have any deficiencies in Vitamin D, B12, Zinc, or Iron.
Connect with others
Living alone isn’t healthy if it drives you into hyper-independence. This could be a trauma response disguised as a triumph. I think it’s important to be aware that we are creatures of connection; we came from tribes, we were born in a womb and got nurtured in it from a mother, we are raised and socialised into being who we are. So, complete isolation from that can be detrimental to our mental health.
I try to FaceTime with family or friends on Mondays after work; it gets the week started with connection in mind. I also try to have genuine social media interaction to support my friends or express myself throughout the week. I didn’t realise how helpful sharing my life on socials (reasonably) could be until recently. On the weekends, I schedule something more social so I can have fun and bring more lightness in my life.
Overall, I think living alone has tremendously solidified my sense of self, and it has allowed me to be responsible for my life—a skill we all need to cultivate one way or another. But I know it’s not for everyone. Some of us thrive when we are around others more and that’s okay. But for my fellow single people out there, you’re not alone.
Finding our feet in this crazy, messy world isn’t easy. It starts with our mindset, a strategy, a routine, and most importantly, a powerful “why” behind our actions. This keeps us grounded in the face of challenges and the overthinking that often happens when we find ourselves living alone for the first time.