My roommate and I are good friends, but we don’t normally spend much time together at home because we have really busy schedules. Now that we’re on lockdown, it’s been challenging for us both, but for me especially to set some boundaries. I feel like she expects me to constantly hang out with her, and she’s been obsessing a lot about when this will all be over and we can go back to normal life, so I’ve been trying to be a rock for her. Any advice on how I can get some space without hurting her feelings?
Dear Secretly Stressing,
You’re not alone if you’ve struggled to find boundaries when sharing a physical space. Think back to freshman year of college when most of us shared a tiny room with a random roommate! It was certainly hard to find your own personal space back then, but many of us were able to seek out alone time to just BE, whether that was in the library, the gym, or a favorite spot on campus. That’s the trick - finding ways to create space for YOU; to be alone, even if you aren’t really alone. Here are some ideas:
Create smaller “rooms” within your space:
Rearrange the furniture in your apartment or house to create smaller “rooms” within it. You could temporarily split the living room in half by moving the couch to the center of the room, and use the other half of the room to create a meditation corner on one side (use fabric or a sheet) and a yoga “studio” on the other! Creating these tiny rooms within your home can help make the space feel more dynamic, and can also help you get into different headspaces depending on where you are in your home.
Set up a private workspace:
Even if your desk is in a common area (or at the dining room table), finding creative ways to create some privacy within that space is super important. Maybe divide the table by hanging a sheet from the ceiling so that you don’t distract each other during working hours, or make yourself a standing desk in the living room by stacking some books on the sofa table!
Communicate what you need:
Be sure to voice when you need alone time. If you find yourself feeling frustrated or annoyed, maybe just calmly say you’re going to spend some time in your room. Watch your favorite movie, or do a quick home workout to recenter, and come back to your shared space feeling refreshed. It can be difficult to voice when you need space, but it’s extremely important to practice good communication not only for yourself but also for your relationships (during lockdown and beyond)!
Kindly remind them that shared space is shared:
If your roommate is falling into bad lockdown habits, and is slipping on respecting the shared space in your apartment or home (i.e. leaving dirty clothes in the bathroom after showering, or not doing their dishes), its’ ok to give them a gentle reminder that it’s important to be extra diligent about keeping common areas organized while spending extended time indoors.
Create some mental space:
Grab some noise canceling headphones (or earplugs if you don’t have any) and find a quiet place (or go outside!) to get some alone time. Journal, organize your closets, do some laundry, meditate, bake something, take a walk, or do a solo yoga session. Taking some time alone, and blocking out any background noise, is helpful in finding some mental space and clarity while spending extended time with roommates or family.
Defining boundaries can be really difficult anytime; you may not want to hurt your roommates’ feelings, or cause an argument, so you end up avoiding the issue all together. While that’s never the best option, it’s easy to distract yourself from these issues during non-lockdown times by avoiding spending much time at home. Since we’re now in a position where extended time at home is our only option, it’s actually a great opportunity to work on truly understanding what it is that you need from your space at home, and communicating that with your S/O, roommates or family members. ❤️
Let us know how cohabiting during lockdown is going for you! We’d love to see how you’re living with roomies @thelandingsocial or via writing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in #CreatingSpace,
Miranda and The Landing Team