I know what you’re thinking, she’s finally lost it as she’s writing a blog about the healing nature of coffee shops when you feel lonely. But a staggering realisation I’ve had in 2020 (one of many I assure you) is that cafes really help me diffuse my loneliness or get out of a creative funk.
When I get bored reading or writing at home or felt lonely at University and the years since, I would go to a coffee shop. Sometimes by myself, other times I’d rally the gang and we’d all be there. It’s one of those social settings that brings you out of yourself and your own thoughts.
A coffee shop was always a better option than the library. Waterstones café was our top tier choice in York, but we’d settle for a Pret if we had too.
I don’t think I realised how much coffee shops helped when I felt lonely until the pandemic when the option was taken away.
In 2017, Alexandra Hoskyn started the Chatty Café, a project that encourages cafes to section off one part of the shop where people can sit and chat to other customers. This prompted big chains such as Sainsbury’s to adopt this idea too with Talking Tables and Costa with Chatter and Natter tables.
We all clearly find solace in strangers and a busy environment. I also like certain train stations for that bustle, passing through nature of human existence, St Pancras or York station in particular.
Since the pandemic I haven’t had that outlet. Working from home has also eradicated the office tea breaks which would work in a similar way. It was the time to have some silence, or office chat and be around other people and a part of a small, common, social experience. Throw in a anecdote, an “oh I can’t wait till Friday” and then everyone goes back to their desk feeling a bit lighter and comforted by the fact that we all essentially are at times mentally exhausted.
Research has even show that we work better in busy, noisy settings like coffee shops, it enhances creativity and concertation. It’s also part of the audience effect, the idea that having a small audience improves performance, there’s more pressure to be seen to getting things done.
So how do we replicate the café experience at home when we feel lonely?
Hot desk your house
If you have the luxury of working in different spaces, take it. I talked about hot desking your home back in my working from home tips in March and it really helped me. As they say variety is the spice of life and all that.
It’s no coffee shop, but work in the kitchen with the radio, or on the sofa with a chilled playlist on. Anything to change up the silence and staring at a laptop screen.
Silence isn’t always your friend
When it’s quiet, it’s easy to overthink and more importantly become distracted by your thoughts and fall down a rabbit hole of what if’s, an ASOS basket and add four new self-development books (that you need but may not read) to your Amazon wishlist.
Café background noise
If you’re really struggling, Coffitivity has recorded extracts of coffee shops to replicate the sound of a café at home. I do actually find it very comforting to listen to. The bustling conversations of people dipping in and out of a public space is really nice, especially as it’s not something we’ve heard much of in 2020.
Be your own barista
Elevate your at home coffee or tea experience. Invest in some loose leaf tea or ground coffee This doesn’t have to be crazy either. Maybe switch up an afternoon tea for an Early Grey or Mint tea a cheeky chai or a chocolately inspired tea.
I’m also obviously an advocate for a Emma Bridgewater mug…
Grab a takeaway coffee from a local café
Even though you can’t sit down in the cafe, if you can walk or go on a short drive to support a local café and get your favourite coffee, then why not. It’ll give you a break from your desk, house and hopefully alleviate some of the loneliness and mental weight you’re carrying.
Do you miss coffee shops? Do you find cafes help alleviate feelings of loneliness too?