Quarantine is a challenge when you live alone. Here are 5 ways I'm coping

When the walls feel like they're closing in, these best practices help me find normalcy in a crazy time.

Andrew Gebhart Former senior producer
4 min read

Keep despair and loneliness at bay with these practical tips.

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I've spent the past 21 days almost completely isolated in my apartment since my company's work-from-home policy began in response to coronavirus lockdowns and quarantine, emerging briefly for food runs and neighborhood walks. And now I'm craving human contact in ways I've never experienced before.

I imagine I'm not alone in having had more than a few full conversations with my cat, but it isn't hard to see how the walls could start closing in after a few more weeks of physical isolation. So here are some tips I'm using to keep some measure of personal sanity during all of this alone time, with additional suggestions from my CNET colleagues who are in the same boat.

Sticking to a routine is really, really important

Tech can help you stick to a schedule, which can do a lot to keep you grounded. I'll admit that when I first started working from home, I ignored a few aspects of my usual routine. I didn't need to shower, shave or even put on pants. I was just going to be sitting on my couch typing all day. At first, this was delightful. 

Then I discovered that my weekends and weekdays blurred together, as did mornings, afternoons and evenings. I felt rudderless. 


Setting up a distinct workspace can make a big difference. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Now I shower and get dressed every morning just as I did when I was heading into the office. I still sleep in a little, but preparing for the work day has made a big difference. I also try to not work from the couch. I live in a small one-bedroom apartment, so separating my work space from where I relax helps clarify the boundaries between work time and time for myself. (But here's how you can do it if you want to, without hurting your back and wrists.)

Other suggestions: Open your windows, listen to podcasts, exercise and eat a proper breakfast. 

Embrace your hobbies or create new ones

I already embrace online gaming as a way to stay in touch with remote friends, and my regular Thursday evening meetup to play Borderlands 3 is still going strong. I wrote about a handful of PS4 games that can fill your hours even if you're new to gaming.

But other hobbies are off the table, like heading out in the evening for a craft beer and getting together with friends for tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons and board games like Gloomhaven. One by one, those gatherings have been called off as well. 

Thankfully, you can play online role playing games through services such as Roll20. You can even set up a video call for party games like Charades, Pictionary and Mafia. 

Here are some other projects and hobbies you can try:

Connect digitally without feeling overwhelmed

This is the crux of the matter. If you're living alone, you're missing out on human connections now more than ever. But it's possible to overdo it and feel too connected.

Space out your calls: Quarantine is a great time to catch up with out-of-town friends and family, but don't call everyone back-to-back. Schedule your calls and space them out over the course of a couple of days or weeks. Then, when you finish chatting with everybody, enough time might have passed that you're ready to catch up with the first person again and you can start the schedule over. 

Netflix watch parties: Google has a free extension for the Chrome browser that lets you stream movies and TV shows from Netflix in sync with friends. Anyone in the group can pause or rewind as necessary and you can use the chatroom to crack jokes and share thoughts while you watch. 

Virtual dinner party or happy hour: Using FaceTime, Zoom or Google Hangouts, you can still have dinner parties with friends or family. You could even agree on a meal that you'll all eat. One coworker noted that you should establish rules with these parties: Are people going to be drinking or not? It's less fun if you're the only one without a glass of wine, so clarify a few of these little things while setting up the event. Here are a few tips for staying safe while getting groceries, and here's how to acquire wine or liquor if that's on the menu. 

Stay active with home workouts for every fitness level

With gyms closed and far fewer reasons to get out of the house, finding a way to stay active is important, for both your physical and mental well being. You can find some cardio workouts online. You can still go for walks or go for a run as long as you keep your distance from other runners. 

I try to do a simple routine two to three times a day -- 15 jumping jacks, 15 squats, 15 sit-ups and 15 pushups. The main point is to get your blood circulating and give yourself an energy boost.

I'm also trying to do two to three full cardio workouts a week, but I'm noticing motivation is fading as quarantine continues. To combat this, one coworker recommends setting goals. The goal could be to increase the maximum number of pushups or pullups you can do at once or focus on losing a couple of pounds to keep yourself working.

Here is a rundown of some great workouts you can do from home


Try to stay active, even if you don't have a fancy Peloton machine. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Stay clean

I mentioned that showering was important for me as I worked to reestablish a routine, and it's important to keep your place clean as well. Don't let the dishes or the trash pile up and you'll see a few benefits. Your place will seem more like somewhere that you actually want to be. If you need a nudge, set calendar reminders to stop what you're doing and take out the trash.

Staying sane while living alone for an extended period can be tricky. Here's a guide to everything you can and can't do during quarantine and here's how to keep yourself feeling clean and well groomed.

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.