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How to Live Alone—and Love It

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Posted by Meg Thompson on April 10, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Moved into your own place recently? Congrats! You're part of the growing number of people choosing to forego roommates and live alone (rates of solo dwellers have doubled over the past three decades, according to recent reports.) However, a new study from the journal BMC Public Health indicates that people who shack up alone also have an increased risk of getting a case of the blues--by up to 80 percent! While the benefits to living alone are huge (no messy roommates!), take some precautions to avoid falling into a rut. Here are some of my fave tips.

 

Get a pet. Rescue a cat or dog from a shelter. Having a furry friend to take care of will keep you on track. You can also meet new people walking your dog or taking your ferret to the pet store (which can be a lot of fun, by the way).

Learn new skills. Living on your own means that if something breaks…no one is there to fix it but you. Use the internet to learn how to fix a leaky faucet. Build your new Ikea furniture yourself. You’ll feel proud of your independence and self-sufficiency!

Entertain and prepare your favorite foods on a regular basis. Finally host that awesome themed brunch inspired by your Pinterest boards. Eat cereal for dinner if you want. Remind yourself that when you live with someone else, you also have to take his preferences into consideration and you may not be able to eat your favorite foods as often.

Call friends and family back home when you feel down. Sometimes all you need is a pep talk from your friends or just to hear a family member's voice to remind you that you're not alone.

Be safe. Living in a safe area and feeling secure in your new place will grant you peace of mind. A good security system doesn't hurt, either.

Enjoy the perks of living alone. Decorate however you want to, leave dirty dishes in the sink, walk around in your underwear, or have a solo dance party to your favorite music. You'll never have to share the remote or the bathroom, and you're free to do what you like. What could be better?

Your newfound independence can be liberating--but also isolating, which can make you feel lonely. Plus, you may get so used to being by yourself that you may find it hard to get along with others at times. When you live with someone else, you're forced to compromise, negotiate and play nicely with others constantly (Who will clean the bathroom? Who pays which bills? You get the picture!). But when you get your own place, it's easier to get stuck in your ways--and it may affect your ability to communicate and work through conflict when you are hanging with other people.

If you find that spending so much time solo is getting you down, or negatively impacting your ability to get along with others, make sure you set up plenty of opportunities to get out of the house. Join an intramural sports league, go out with work colleagues for happy hour--or simply try to set up dinner plans with pals a few nights per week. Filling your schedule with activities will help you feel engaged in a community and give you plenty of opportunities to exercise your social skills.

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