Can’t remember the last time you enjoyed some time completely for yourself? Make it a priority this week
Solitude can be hard to come by in a lockdown situation, and your partner, kids or housemates may feel omnipresent within the confines of your home. If you feel guilty for thinking you just want to escape, don’t. It’s completely natural to crave time on your own to recharge, pursue your individual interests and just to not feel ‘on’ for a while. Here are some simple ideas to eke out time to just be by yourself, not consuming, not smiling for the Zoom camera or ticking something off the to-do list.
Accept that it’s okay to need some me-time
Recognise that you never asked for or predicted this much time at home alone with your partner or kids. It’s not how you were accustomed to spending your time, and naturally, these new circumstances have lead to increased pressure on relationships and tension in the home. It’s not black and white either, as of course there are times when we all feel grateful for this extra quality time. But it’s natural for those living in close quarters to grate on each other. Don’t feel guilty for craving a few quiet moments for yourself, or for asking for it.
Make a plan
If you struggle to get around to doing things for yourself, you need to make it a priority. Decide how you want to spend your downtime, and schedule it in your day. Make it a non-negotiable part of the day, just like you would a trip to the gym or an appointment. Being intentional about it ensures that you don’t squander moments to yourself wondering where that time went.
Talk about it
Rather than pretending everything is fine, or resenting those around you, have a chat about what you need. Make sure that those around you know that this is about self-care, not rejection. These feelings should be validated. Those around you may not realise how you are feeling, may have been unintentionally crowding your space in an attempt to cheer you up, or may be feeling exactly the same. No need to go into too much detail, or fall into the trap of listing annoyances and grievances that have built up after 12 months at home together. This should be a discussion, not an argument. Simply say ‘I need a little quiet time for myself after work/the kids go to sleep’, and list off some hobbies or past experiences that you’re currently missing out on, such as time at the gym or pastimes that are currently off limits.
Make it known that you are taking a bath/listening to a podcast/reading your book for a while. That declaration is important, it sets a boundary. Treat going for a bath or whatever it is like you are about to depart for a far flung destination where you cannot be reached. It helps even more if you have somewhere you can hide away from the main traffic areas of the house, whether that’s your bedroom or the garden. Bring everything you need so you don’t get distracted. Don’t bring your phone (or stick it on airplane mode if you want it for music or podcasts), and ask not to be disturbed if possible – sometimes we are our own worst enemies and allow these moments to be cut short. And once you lock the door and sink into the tub, or take your seat out in the sunshine, embrace it. Restlessness might sink in, you may think of things that need to be done, but don’t let that disrupt you. Take a notepad if you’re worried you’ll forget any thoughts that spring to mind.
It’s not just about you
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, irritated and in need of some solitude, then chances are you’re not your best self right now. Taking the time out you need will enhance not just your mood, but also your relationships and your productivity. Your partner, your family members and your colleagues undoubtedly sense when you are tense, and you may know yourself that you have been prone to snap or be moody. Taking time out could very much do everyone a favour.
You might be daydreaming about an uninterrupted duvet day or weekend movie marathon enjoyed solo on the couch, with no one to argue with, but that may not be practical. Especially if you’re someone who struggles to grab alone time, start with a small target, like aiming for just 15 minutes downtime with a cup of tea, or ten minutes stretching on your yoga mat. Make that an appointment with yourself and stick to it. Now you have something to build upon. It also sends a message to those around you that you’re not to be disturbed. It’s even a nice habit to get kids into too.
Invest in good quality headphones
Not all headphones are created equal. Effective noise cancellation can really help you to tune out noise around you, which is ideal if you are sharing a workspace at home, or if you find your local park is quite noisy as everyone flocks to these spaces. You may not want to listen to music all the time, but having that helping hand to quieten the noise of those you are living with can really help improve your mood.
Become an early riser
Being the first in your household to rise is an easy way to get some quiet time to yourself.