How to Love Living Alone

Live solo? You’re not alone. Recently released census data shows that 31 million people live by their lonesome—that’s a jump of 4 million since 2000. That means that over a quarter of people live on their own. Taking the current state of the economy into consideration, those figures are even more astonishing.

Unfortunately, it’s not all upbeat: A growing body of research shows that people who live by themselves may be at a higher risk for depression and alcoholism. Do these studies mean that you should post a roommate ad on Craigslist, pronto? Not exactly.

The research findings can be scary, but that doesn’t mean that being a single-dweller means you’re doomed to be unhappy, isolated, alcoholic, or depressed, either. a2aBusinessLinkEric Klinenberg, PhD, author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise And Surprising Appeal Of Living Alone, found that living alone is not only more popular than it’s been in the past, it can be beneficial too. “There’s evidence that people who live alone enjoy better mental health than unmarried people who live with others,” he says. Plus people who have a space all to themselves often have a more robust social lives than their married counterparts.

More from Prevention: Everything You Know About Happiness Is Wrong

Here are 8 ways to make sure that your solo-living experience is as healthy as possible:

Truly contemplate if living solo is right for you. There’s no denying it: Living alone does come with some risks. If you’re someone who is prone to loneliness or depression, living by yourself could be a potentially toxic setting for you, according to Dr. Klinenberg.

Give a copy of your key to someone you trust. This ritual isn’t just for forgetful folks who have a habit of losing their keys or for the elderly at risk for falling down stairs. No matter what age you are, it’s always good for someone else to have access to your space in case of an emergency.


Befriend at least a few of your neighbors. “In urban settings that pride themselves of being havens for anonymity, it’s important to reach out to a few people that live close to you,” says sociologist Deb Carr, PhD at Rutgers University. You don’t have to go over and ask for a cup of sugar, but make a conscious effort to cultivate solid relationships with those who live around you. You need someone that you can lean on for a favor or who would notice if you’re not acting like yourself. Simply smiling in the elevator doesn’t cut it.

Stick to a schedule. Having a set routine is especially important for two reasons: You’re more apt to use your time as efficiently as possible and it could provide accountability, says Dr. Carr. For example, you might go on a walk every single morning and get to know the people who are also exercising at that hour. If you suddenly stop showing up, it could serve as a red flag that something’s up.

Keep your social calendar packed. Surprisingly, Dr. Klinenberg’s research already shows that single people are more apt to socialize with friends. “Compared with their married counterparts, they are more likely to eat out and exercise, go to art and music classes, attend public events and lectures, and volunteer,” he says. But it’s still important to make the extra effort to schedule these things when you live by yourself, says Dr. Carr. From fighting obesity to staving off heart disease, friendships can play a big part in your health and precious bonding time doesn’t come as naturally when you live by yourself. (Do you have the right friends? Check out the 8 Friends Every Woman Needs)

Turn off the television. One common tactic for those who live alone is to supplement the quiet lone time is to constantly have the TV in the background. But that can do a number on your waistline: Those who dine while sitting in front of the tube are apt to eat 300 more calories than their non-television watching counterparts, according to one study from the University of Massachusetts.a2aBusinessLink

Own up to your vices. The great thing about living alone is that it’s a no-judgment zone. If you want to unwind by watching an episode of Toddlers in Tiaras, there’s no one to roll their eyes at your questionable DVR queue. The bad thing about living alone is that it’s a no-judgment zone. If you want to indulge your sweet tooth on a whole box of Oreos, there’s no one to subtly shame you into eating just a few instead. So if you know that you can’t give in to the call of chocolate cookies—maybe it’s best that you simply don’t purchase them at the store.

Relish the solo time. One of the biggest attributes to living alone is the solitude. Seems obvious, right? But in our ever-expanding interconnected world, we forget that one of the biggest benefits of living solo is actually being alone. “If you come home and turn on the television, flip on your laptop, and start texting your friends, that’s not using your alone time productively,” says Dr. Klinenberg. You can take the time to meditate and think about what you really want in life. Practicing those types of habits can really be formative in a person’s live, says Dr. Klinenberg.

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