Alone in the COVID-19 lockdown: An exploratory study

Rowena Leary, Kathryn Asbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Feelings of isolation have been prevalent worldwide since March 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. This has prompted increased concerns about loneliness and related mental health problems. During the first UK COVID-19 lockdown, 71 participants were asked to share their high and low point stories from lockdown. These were analyzed using thematic analysis to explore how “aloneness” was experienced at this time. A deductive analyses supported three key facets of aloneness reported in the literature: emotional loneliness, social loneliness, and existential loneliness, as well as a more positive form of aloneness, solitude. An inductive analysis identified risk and protective factors for loneliness, comprising worry, lockdown changes, and poor mental health; and social contact, emotional contact, stability and simple life. The study highlights the importance of understanding how facets of aloneness interrelate, and how understanding risk and protective factors can help us to develop social and policy interventions to alleviate loneliness. In particular, solitude is proposed as a potential mechanism for alleviating loneliness, particularly existential loneliness, alongside more common social methods.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalAnalyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
Early online date17 Jun 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors


  • loneliness
  • Covid-19
  • qualitative
  • narrative identity
  • thematic analysis
  • solitude
  • aloneness

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