'I go out every single night. It has completely transformed my mental health.'

“Don’t you get lonely?” 

This is the first question people ask me when they find out that I’ve been living alone for the past few years. 

It was also something that constantly played on my mind when I first took the plunge and ventured out on my own after house-sharing. “What happens if I don’t feel safe?”, “Who do I talk to when I come home from work?”, “Why aren’t there any recipes for single meals? I can’t keep eating the same roast pork every night for the next three weeks straight.” 

Watch: The loneliness epidemic. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

Voicing these (albeit slightly dramatic) concerns to my therapist, she suggested that instead of sitting on my couch every night under a blanket in fear, that I should instead just stay out. 

She said that I’m not just moving into a new home, I’m moving into a new lifestyle and that lifestyle includes environments outside my four walls. 

Taking her advice a bit too literally, I filled my calendar with events, dinners, long walks and (when I was really desperate) overtime work. 

For five months straight, I was getting home around 10pm most nights and it dispelled my thoughts of loneliness because all I had time to think about was going to bed.

As you can probably tell, this little gig didn’t last long. 


No, not because it was emotionally exhausting (even though it was) but because Sydney went into lockdown. 

The pandemic, as I'm sure you remember, forced people to stay at home alone 24/7 except for “partner bubbles” where if you had a partner who you weren’t living with, you could both travel to and from each other's places with no policing. 

But that was no help to me. 

Soon after, the government introduced a “singles bubble” for people who lived alone so they could catch up with another person who also lived alone.

But there was no one in my five-kilometre radius. 

Going from being out and about every single night to stuck in my studio apartment 24/7 affected my mental health like crazy. My depression was depress-ering. 

Yes, we were allowed outside to exercise, but you can’t tell a depressed person “Hey, at least you have some playtime.” 

As we eased out of the rules of lockdown, my behaviour went back to “normal”.

I attempted to start my routine of being outside of my home every single night, except now it felt different. 

Being in lockdown made me hate my apartment. So much so that if I had nothing on, I would drive to my parent's house and just stay there (even if they weren't there). 

Being stuck in that 42-squares of what was apparently home for so long made me feel sick. 

It also became a struggle going out to the same level as I was before the lockdown. According to what everyone was telling me, the economy was bad? It must be true because all I knew was that I had money and then I didn't. 


Everything became much more expensive as well as emotionally exhausting, going from working from home to suddenly four days back in the office. 

I knew I had to re-look at my habits and need for being out of my house all the time. Not only so it could better my depression but also to fix the toxic relationship I had with my home. 

It took some time to work out the perfect formula but I’ve now nailed the schedule of going out every day that doesn’t cost me a fortune and has completely transformed my mental health for the better. 

Here are the four hacks that have worked for me:

Pick two nights a week to have a meal out. 

Mine are usually a Saturday night and a Friday morning. I love going to cafes and I love going to restaurants. Obviously, there will be times where we have social events but even on weeks that are slow and low, I make it a point to save enough money to take myself out for a meal. 

I also want to stress that these meals don't have to break the bank. 

I sometimes go out for a $13 Pad Thai and I always have leftovers. I highly recommend picking up discount meals that restaurants offer for commuters at the end of the day and eat at a park. 

Listen to Em Vernem speak about burnout on the Things You Didn't Learn In School podcast. Post continues below.

Go for a long walk at least five days a week.

I listen to a lot of podcasts. How? Because I go for a walk every night. Usually around 8PM after doing the dishes, I put on my trainers and walk around my suburb. Whether it’s for 10 minutes or an hour, I use this time to listen and wind down for the day.


Pick one nesting day a week.

Your nesting day is your full day at home. It can be likened to a “rest day”. Basically, this is your self-care day where you do your washing and cleaning, your pampering, chores, admin and your meal prep. 

The point of having a weekly nesting day is to make you feel safe and comfortable in the environment you’ve created for yourself. Any feelings of loneliness during this time is quickly dispelled by telling yourself that the activities you're doing in your home are to help set you up for the rest of the week. Soon this will be your favourite day of the week.

Pick an “outside” activity. 

I am not a hobby person. Thinking about doing an activity for fun makes me feel ill. However, I get jealous of people who find joy and purpose of doing hobbies outside of their homes like playing group sports, attending dance classes or cooking. 

My work-around for this is to pick an activity that you’re already doing, but only do it in another environment. For me that is reading. 

I only read outside of my home to make it feel like I’m putting some extra consideration and value into the activity. I bounce around from libraries, cafes and parks to choose to do my reading. 

Going out every night sounds like “a lot” but it has honestly been transformative to my mental health, especially coming out of the pandemic. It has also made me feel more comfortable being alone in my home and appreciative of the little environment I’ve created. 

If you want more culture and zeitgeist opinions from Emily Vernem, you can follow her on Instagram @emilyvernem

Feature image: Supplied.

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