This time last year I was bragging about how much lockdown suited me. I was writing my novel, learning the guitar, doing puzzles and accessing the Hay Festival by Zoom.  I had the whole flat to myself, acres of time, a million things yet to watch, tons of books to catch up on, and all my clients via Zoom so I didn’t even have to keep the place all that tidy.  Smug, is the only word to describe my state of mind last April.

Now, though, it’s fair to say the joy is wearing off. Living on my own works brilliantly in normal times, but scrape away the cafes, the theatres, the holidays, the clubs, even shopping in a bustling street, friends to stay, friends to stay with, in other words, the backdrop and balancing apparatus to solitude, and it’s a completely different matter.  This weeks ONS figures report persistent feelings of loneliness up from 1 in 20 this time last year to 1 in 14, and no one is surprised.

It will change, lockdown will end, we’ll settle back into broadly recognisable habits, but in the meantime, here are some things to try all by yourself:

Play some music and dance like no one is watching (they aren’t);

Voice radio’s good too – who knew thoughts could make such a racket;

Clean your home.  Every inch.  It’s good exercise and it makes you feel great.  Failing which, read this;

When loneliness strikes, however unpleasant it feels, remember it’s a thought. Be curious about it.  Pick it up, turn it over.  See how it feels to switch the thought off, just for a moment;

On that, the Headspace App is great for accessible meditations;

Try not to let loneliness get worse by attaching rubbish to it – like a story about it being shameful or embarrassing or will last forever;

Listen to some Eckhart Tolle – (other gurus are available);

Have a go at something new – painting, sewing, building, gardening, cycling, playing the recorder.  Don’t be put off by needing to do it well.  At all would be brilliant;

Go out for a walk.  This is especially good to do when you least feel like it;

When you’re feeling okay, make a voice recording describing what’s going on to play when you’re down.  It’s a good reminder of change;

Throw the I Ching and interpret it in the most positive way possible.  Mine just said:  As for the future we must let happen what happens.  How’s that for some cracking advice?

Watch five episodes of Schitt’s Creek back to back;

Eat well.  It’s definitely worth the bother;

Remember this too will pass.