Husnara Begum Head & Shoulders Image

Husnara Begum, owner & careers consultant

With my husband struck down with Covid, I’m preparing to spend Valentine’s Day and our wedding anniversary isolating in the slim hope that I avoid catching the dreaded virus that’s impacted so many of our lives. That’s assuming he hasn’t given it to me already. Now won’t that be the worst Valentine’s gift?

Spending the past couple of days on my own has got me thinking about loneliness, a topic I’ve blogged about in the past. I’m known to have openly admitted to often experiencing bouts of loneliness, particularly after moving away from London and especially since becoming self-employed. And let’s face it the pandemic and spending the past two years shielding hasn’t exactly helped.

After first starting to feel lonely I set out to make new friends and acquaintances who lived near to me. Putting myself out there, I joined a couple of local women’s groups and even volunteered to help the Tunbridge Wells Liberal Democrats candidate with his social media campaign during the 2019 General Election campaign.

Sadly, all of that came to an abrupt end in early 2020 when a little-known virus started to send shockwaves around the world and eventually resulted in the UK’s first lockdown. In person encounters were replaced by virtual video calls. Thankfully, I adjusted quickly to this new way of living and working and was one of the first in my group of friends to start hosting Zoom quizzes, followed by a virtual panto (written and produced by me), Mardi Gras party and my first ever stand-up comedy gig.

But little did I know, whilst keeping myself busy as a self-appointed lockdown social secretary, a separate transformation was happening. Gradually, I started to enjoy my own company. I stopped telling myself (and indeed my husband) that “I feel bored” and no longer incessantly yearned the company of others. Instead, I sought out new experiences and hobbies that were possible to do all on my lonesome. I started blogging, which eventually resulted in the launch of I fell back in love with art and spent hours with my head buried in adult colouring books. I discovered Audible and have listened to so many brilliant books, which I would never have gotten round to opening.

I also got into mindfulness and can now sit in complete silence meditating. And rather than allow my overactive imagination to conjure up stories about horrible scary stuff like death and tragedy I appreciate listening to the breeze blowing my hair about, accompanied by the calming sound of birdsong. Indeed, if you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen window that faces outdoors and it’s possible to hang a bird feeder go for it. Watching and listening to birds whilst doing the washing up is sheer bliss.

The company of others and a feeling of belonging is essential to mental wellness but becoming over-reliant on it can arguably be detrimental. Thankfully, I now really enjoy spending some occasions on my own tucked under a duvet watching an old movie or pottering about in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes. And it’s learning to be more self-sufficient than ever before that I hope will help me cope whilst I self-isolate over the next few days.