Loneliness NZ

Understanding each other better for bubble-life in COVID-19 isolation

Imagine what life would be like if all people in our bubbles thrived harmoniously!

For some that happens easily, and being in isolation lockdown is likely to bring out the best in them. Then again, you’ve not been in these conditions before, and you might be sad “feeling your beautiful  bubble popping”.


We’re living in unprecedented times, with such wide-scale lockdown. Some people will feel temporarily better connected and some experiencing loneliness for the first time.

Prolonged loneliness is harmful, particularly for anyone vulnerable , experiencing hardship or under strain.

This post, and others that will follow, are some of the resources you can use to see how to improve your family living, and living on your own. 

Our aim

Whether you are in a bubble on your own, or with others, an understanding of human interaction within and across bubbles is important to help you have better expectations of each other…and yourself. Loneliness comes about from unmet expectations from people you connect with.

So whether it seems relatively easy or tough right now, learning to connect with each other well is vital to the success of this COVID-19 Lockdown.

Let’s do everything we can to make our bubble world experience great!

Let’s look after each other, and ourselves.

Let’s have better connections, with and without technology.

Quality relationships are amongst life’s blessings!

Our influence on others

In a previous post we have talked about our behaviours influence others without us even being aware that is happening. Just as our negative behaviours influence others badly…increasing loneliness, anxiety and depression, so can our positive behaviours influence people to adjust better to Bubble life.

Supplement kindness with large doses of empathy, tolerance, adaptation, sacrifice, respect, gratitude, patience, creativity and service…with a constant reminder that this isolation is to help all those essential workers helping us, and we are all then together saving lives.

At times life will seem very challenging. Having blame, guilt, spiralling-down self-talk, feeling over-burdened, frustration, anger all affecting us puts our Bubbles at risk of fragmenting.  A fragmented Bubble risks people compromising self-isolation rules, out of desperation.

Interacting with each other positively will have a ripple effect to whoever we interact with; in our Bubbles, across Bubbles when we talk to them on the phone and video, and how we come across to the essential service workers.  Being positive is crucial to our wellbeing and yours.

How we replenish our energy

Some of us recharge our mental batteries by spending more time in other people’s company, and others recharge by more time alone. We all love each other – we just find different amounts of time with each other better for our wellbeing.

Finding balance for considering two people’s needs is important. There is no simple measure whose needs are greatest when, for example, you are alone, interrupted by another person for conversation; or when you want to play games and everyone is absorbed in books, works and devices.

Having strategies will be helpful (Reminder neither need is more or less important – they both are):

  • Talk about each other’s needs regularly, and have agreements when and how often you can interrupt alone time; and how often you will have games and chat times.
  • Enable those that need people more to use central spaces where they see each other passing more often. Let them use the television, radio, You-tube clips, with the sound on to see people in other formats – not to replace conversation but to supplement time with family. Encourage them to connect with other Bubbles using video technology. And lastly, let them be the ones to go outdoors for shopping, getting the most of seeing and speaking to people.
  • For people who need alone time – have a no-noise and no-interruption space allocated away from the central space. Let them spend enough time on their devices – not to avoid family but to rejuvenate and to rejoin family at an agreed time.

Needs, and "life worth living" wants

Have a discussion to understand the difference between needs and wants. You are aiming to give each person some of their wants and needs, without compromising the wants and needs of any other person or the needs of having the household operating well. 

Wants have significant value in making life worth living. Be fair with people’s wants, in perspective of space constraints and changing financial circumstances.


  • some need space from their family; some want a favourite TV watching chair; 
  • some need breaks from chores; some want not to clean toilets; 
  • some need the only computer to do their job; some want time for gaming online; 
  • some need some noisy times; as much as some need quiet.
  • some want chocolate biscuits; some want a particular television programme.

Balancing your optimism and pessimism for wellbeing

One of the challenges you will face as a Bubble is the constant tension between optimism and pessimism. Having talked about positivity, let’s see how that fits with talking about the reality of serious world crisis around us.


When you have choices, how you frame your words goes a long way to making them positive. You still have realistic discussions; take time to soak in the severity, and then you shift your mind-set to enjoy a lighter moment.


As it happens, being only optimistic is not the best for your health! Before the pessimists go – I knew it! – being only pessimistic is also damaging.


Overall, your Bubble is best to adopt an approach where optimism and pragmatism are balanced.


Faith that everyone will unite to get COVID-19 under control in the shortest time by taking this isolation as seriously as you; and at the same time recognise this is out of your control, and isolation time may have to be extended (this is based on the Stockdale Paradox).

The rationale here is that if you are overly optimistic that you cannot conceive of an extension, or other restrictions coming in, your disappointment will be huge; after that you most likely will struggle each and every day! That will seriously affect your wellbeing… loneliness included.

If you are overly pessimistic, you might not bother to take the isolation as seriously. A “Why bother if we are all going to die” approach has a greater likelihood of you not putting effort to enjoy life. You are very likely to be living with higher anxiety, and potentially higher loneliness … and as we have seen earlier in this post, your negativity would be influencing others, at the same time as seriously affecting your wellbeing.

We want all of you to have the best wellbeing throughout this isolation… take it seriously and encourage others in your circle of influence to do so too – for however long it is enforced. 

Our self-help resources