With just under a quarter of households comprising a single person, loneliness and isolation threaten to permeate what is already shaping up to be a particularly trying winter for the single among us.
As someone who has lived alone and worked from home for years, I think of myself as a bit of an expert in the art of being by yourself.
There are a lot of advantages, in my opinion, including not having to suffer anyone else moping about the house and whinging about situations over which we have no control.
The 2016 census revealed that 23.5pc of households or 399,815 people were living on their own, almost evenly split between men and women. Unlike the UK and New Zealand, where adults living alone can form a “support bubble” with one other household, the poor old Irish have to suck it up and soldier on.
There’s no point in doing a Miss Havisham for the entire pandemic, when there are advantages to the situation. When you’re by yourself, you have total control over what goes on under your roof. Want to whack the heating up? Blast it, as nobody else will moan about being too hot or fret about the bill.
Fancy singing along to your favourite musicals, raps or hymns, or walking around the house naked? Knock yourself out as there’s nobody else Zooming their CEO from the kitchen table to glare at you with contempt.
There’s no enduring someone’s flatulence or bad temper, and no pressure to compromise for the sake of peace.
If you live by yourself because your family has flown the nest, try not to fret. Enjoy the golden few weeks where your adult children can’t turn up at your house expecting you to listen to their gripes while you supply tea, biscuits and advice they will never take.
I like to have voices in my house to drown out the ones in my head, so I listen to books on Audible and have a few podcasts on the go at any one time. No matter how weird, dull or obscure your interests, someone will have made a podcast series all about it.
There isn’t much to laugh at these days, but there are plenty of comedies on Netflix and TV that will keep you chuckling. RTÉ putting some of the golden oldies back on the Player was an inspired move. As someone who only gets into things several years after everyone else has moved on, I watched Love/Hate for the first time during the lockdown and am now knee-deep in Bachelors Walk.
I never feel lonely, but then again I live with eight rescue dogs. Pets are the most effective weapon in warding off a single householder’s isolation because they make sure we get out in the pouring rain to grimace sympathetically at fellow pooper-scoopers.
Now is also the perfect time to give yourself or your home a new look, because you won’t have a nosy audience offering an opinion. You are free to march to the beat of your own eccentric drum with impunity, so paint the hall – or your hair – purple, and let your beard grow, whether you’re male or female.
Above all, do whatever it takes to get through.