Emily Stamp discusses the fact that sometimes living in people-heavy scenarios is unavoidable, whether this be sharing a flat or a hostel room. In this article she gives some helpful tips on how to get some personal space when you are living in a situation that drives alone-time out of the window.
Everyone needs a little space sometimes, regardless of whether they are introverted or extroverted in nature. Part of this is knowing how to protect your personal bubble, and accepting that sometimes you need time to yourself - whether that is ten minutes or a whole day. Being with people 24/7 can be draining, yet at certain times in our lives we are all required to do it. It could be sharing a room with a sibling when younger, having a roommate at uni, sharing hostel rooms with 12 people or going on holiday with friends. Plus, most of us will pursue long-term romantic relationships which often include living together in the same room.
But where is personal space in these moments? When returning home, tired from your day, the last thing you may want is to have to speak to or even see someone else. Yet people are guaranteed to be present in your space. The only thing you can claim as yours is often a bed, or half a bed if you are sharing. Here are 5 tips on finding and protecting your personal bubble when other people are unavoidable:
Ignoring the world is much more possible with headphones, whether that be on public transport, shopping without wanting the help of assistants or in a shared bedroom. They help shut out outside sound, even if all you listen to is rain sounds and this can be calming. Plus they give a pretty obvious ‘do not talk to me’ vibe.
2) Solo activities
Find things you can do alone. Be that waking up first to enjoy breakfast, going on a walk, taking yourself for coffee or even just a moment while washing up or curled up in a different room with a cup of tea. Find a book you wanted to read or a craft and block out everyone else as you focus on that. Even cooking for yourself, instead of sharing a meal with housemates can give you more space.
3) Not being afraid to tell people
It can be awkward to tell people you need space or don’t want to hang out with them, but sometimes it has to be done. If you try and reschedule for another day it won’t offend them and if you want time alone when you have a roommate maybe ask for their schedule that day so you can work out when you will be home alone. Even telling them that you plan to nap and asking if they could use a different space is fine, they will understand. Much like with physical affection, friends understand when someone doesn’t want it.
4) Blanket forts
This one may sound silly but nothing says “this is my space” than a good one-person blanket fort or chucking a duvet over your head. Deck it out with cushions, tea, a book and your laptop and you are good to chill out in your little self-constructed fort. A less extreme, but more permanent, form of this is hanging up a small curtain, maybe just so the head of your bed is covered which gives the illusion of privacy.
You could get up earlier than your housemates or, when they leave, get breakfast time alone. Also, if your roommate knows that every Sunday you read in bed for two hours or do yoga then they may either join you or leave so that they don’t disturb you. Similarly if every day after work you stroll through a park then you build time alone into your routine so that you don’t ever get to a point where people seem overwhelming.
Of course, these don’t work all the time and it is roommate-dependent, but hopefully they help you find time alone when the idea of seeing someone is stressful.