I have suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember, and for the past few years I have found myself struggling with depression as well. This tricky combination has put me in the difficult situation of fearing social situations, but feeling depressed and lonely when I shut myself in my room all day. Living alone in a studio apartment has been a huge challenge that has made me feel both helpless and empowered. I have learned that there are things that help me to ease my feelings of anxiety and depression when I don’t have a roommate or constant distraction to fill that void. If you are planning on living alone at any point, and worry that it may affect you emotionally, here are some things to consider to help you stay healthy and happy:
Keep your living space clean.
This is huge. I often find that coming home from class with a sink full of dirty dishes and various items strewn throughout my living room stresses me out like nothing else. Even if you’re not the type to make your bed every morning, put in the little bit of extra effort to avoid the clutter. A tidy space helps to keep your mind clear and you focused on the important stuff.
Let in some light.
Metaphorically, but also literally. Don’t keep your blinds drawn and your curtains closed. Natural light is scientifically shown to improve mood. If it’s warm out, open your window or go for a walk. Many people tend to suffer from seasonal depression in the winter, so if you find yourself feeling consistently down when it gets colder, consider taking some vitamin D supplements to make up for the lack of sun.
A big factor of living alone is the near constant silence (unless you’re lucky like me and have a neighbor who enjoys loudly blasting K-pop until all hours of the morning). Invest in a small, portable speaker and play some tunes that make you feel good. It won’t substitute for having another person there to make conversation, but it will break the silence and help to keep your mind off the negative.
I left this topic broad because it can refer to a lot of things. Using your energy to create something tangible can be both emotionally stimulating and physically relaxing. If you enjoy cooking, try out some of those Pinterest or Buzzfeed recipes you’ve been eyeing and invite a friend over for dinner. If you’re more of the artsy type, consider buying an adult coloring book. It may sound silly, but coloring can do wonders to relieve stress, and afterwards you’ll be left with something you can hang on your wall and admire. Check out this article about the therapeutic benefits of coloring.
Don’t feel like you need to always be alone. Many people don’t realize how much harder it is to reach out and socialize when you don’t have a roommate or a house full of people that you can always hang out with. It’s easy to fall into a slump of shutting yourself away. Don’t. Reach out to friends, call family members who you feel comfortable talking to, or see if there is a therapist in your area who you could see on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Remember, living alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.
I truly believe that everyone should live alone at some point in their life. It forces you to learn more about yourself and how to deal with everyday dilemmas and obstacles without relying on another person for help. If you have the opportunity to live by yourself, embrace it as a way to grow and become a more independent, mindful individual.