During the last few weeks I’ve completely fallen off the map (my apologies), and here’s why. It became blatantly obvious that my living situation was just too overwhelming. There were too many of us crammed into such a tiny space that I was dreading the thought of coming home each day! As much as I tried fighting it, something needed to change.
From one apartment viewing to the next I’ve been beyond stressed out. No one prepares you for how difficult and competitive the market is here in Vancouver and the struggle has been very REAL. As of late last week I’m SO relieved that my search has finally come to an end! I’ve decided to move out to a place of my own and I couldn’t be more excited.
What sparked this lifestyle change? Why have my partner and I chosen to live separately? Ultimately it boils down to our need for a safe space. This will vary from person to person and involves everything from physical, mental, and emotional well-being. How can you crush your goals and create a life you love when your environment is chaotic and stressful? You can’t.
Learning how to create healthy boundaries in your relationships is an absolute must! You know better than anyone else when you’re being stretched too thin and exerting too much energy in the wrong areas of your life. We’ve all been there. Knowing when to prioritize yourself is something we learn through experiences over time. I’ve often heard this referred to as “selfish” and if I’m being honest, I couldn’t disagree with this more.
Alone time is essential and can be difficult to achieve when you’re sharing your living space with other people (or 3 fur babies). Personally there is nothing I enjoy more than coming home at the end of a long day to unwind in the comfort of my own home. No unexpected messes or rowdy energy allows me to fully decompress and reflect on the events that have taken place throughout the day. Sounds appealing doesn’t it?
Since moving out on my own at a young age, I’ve grown accustomed to living independently and revelling in the perks associated with doing what I want when I want. Whether it’s your partner or a roommate, this lifestyle doesn’t exactly jive when you share your space with someone else. This is where setting your boundaries comes into play.
Whatever your idea of a safe space looks like, you have to acknowledge it and create a plan that feels right for you. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself when trying to decide which route best suits your overall needs.
- Is my personality introverted or extroverted?
- Do I feel recharged in solitude or surrounded by others?
- How does my current living situation make me feel?
- Am I willing to spend more to live on my own, or spend less and share my space with others?
Boundaries provide us with the freedom to prioritize our time and energy. Investing in yourself and your personal growth is an absolute necessity!
From the time I was little I’ve been taught to create and follow a routine (thanks mom). As an adult my routine has changed over time as environmental factors such as work, recreational activities, and availability inevitably impact my schedule. Finding your groove and creating a system that promotes work-life-balance can be tricky but it’s something we should always remain cognizant of.
Setting yourself up for success starts at home and creating a healthy, balanced lifestyle takes time. You’re bound to get knocked down a few times before solidifying what works best for you and those around you. Gotta love trial and error! It all boils down to your end goal. What resources do you need in order to crush your goals and limit the amount of stress along the way?
Eliminating external distractions is an excellent way to ensure you stay on track! When you no longer have to worry about conflicting schedules or additional work at the end of your day, building and sticking to your routine becomes that much easier. Consistency is your best friend and an excellent tool to utilize as you begin to navigate through your new lifestyle.
Whether you’re an introvert who prefers your own space or an extrovert that thrives living with others, your routine is always in your control. So what are you waiting for? Get planning!
Calm energy can seem quite foreign to those of us suffering from mental health issues. Environmental factors feel overwhelming and down right unmanageable at times, especially if you’re trying to accommodate a shared living space. We spend all day interacting with others and sometimes we just need a little peace and quiet.
Ideally your safe space should consist of things that make you happy while simultaneously promoting relaxation. This is where the 5 senses come into play and can really make or break your overall vibe. Below is a list of ways I try to create soothing energy in my home to help myself unwind and recharge.
Scents – essential oil diffuser (almost always full of lavender) or burning incense
Visuals – art, throw pillows & blankets (grey & teal), plants etc.
Auditory – my favourite music (really dependant on my mood & the weather)
Taste – home cooked meals/snacks & hot tea
Touch – soft & comforting textures (how many chihuahuas can I actually fit into my apartment?)
This is where you get to have some fun and fully express yourself! What colours, scents, and sounds are able to bring you back down when you’re feeling stuck on the hot mess express? How can you evoke feelings of comfort within your space and establish a well deserved sanctuary to call home?
Now this may seem like a no brainer and yet it’s surprisingly less common than you might think. The root of human existence revolves around feeling safe. When we are lacking stability our instincts kick in and act as a driving force to protect us from danger or perceived threats. One of my biggest (and perhaps irrational) fears in life is ending up with absolutely nothing. No money, food, or place for me and my boys to rest our heads at night. I can’t be the only millennial that’s come dangerously close to living in a cardboard box on the side of the road can I?
We can’t predict the future anymore than we can control our pasts or the experiences that have helped shape us into the person we are today. With that being said, we have full control over the choices we are making right at this very moment. Part of the reason I’ve always felt more at ease living on my own is solely due to the fact that I have no one else to rely on other than myself. I don’t have to worry about rent not being paid on time, or someone eating my food or forgetting to let out my dogs. Why? Because I’m the only one responsible for making sure these things get done!
Another positive side to independent living is the ability to take a breather when conflicts arise. By creating a safe space you gain the power to remove yourself from arguments or disagreements that may actually benefit from personal time to process and cool off. You don’t feel obligated to resolve issues in the moment in attempts to avoid awkward silence. There is nothing worse than having a bad day and coming home to added tension and negative energy. I don’t know about you, but I immediately morph into an exceptionally aggressive and unpleasant version of myself (we refer to this alter-ego as Kendrick…more on that later).
Last but not least…
I’ve touched base on this a few times now and I can’t stress enough the importance of coming up with a solid financial game plan! Whether you’re drowning in student loans or depending on your credit card to make it until pay-day, creating a budget and sticking to it is ultimately your only option.
As much as I try and trick myself into thinking that money doesn’t rule the world and I won’t let it prevent me from living my best life, it does. Everyone lives different lifestyles and as a result has varying monthly expenses. Maybe living on your own isn’t an option and you opt to share a house with several roommates, there’s nothing wrong with that. Perhaps you’re willing to spend a bit more money and have a private space of your own, that’s great too! Learning to live within your means is a life skill that will only benefit you over time.
Don’t let your search discourage you! I can’t tell you how many suites I viewed before finally finding the perfect fit. It was exhausting. I was literally checking Craigslist, Kijiji, and FB Marketplace every few hours and I’ll admit there were days I felt completely and utterly defeated. Once I sat down and assessed what I was willing to pay for a space of my own, I was able to narrow down my search drastically.
I know budgeting can feel super restrictive at times. How will I have enough money to pay my bills AND still have a life? You really just find ways to make it work. Invite your friends over for a potluck dinner, pick up a hobby, workout, or explore your neighbourhood on a sunny day. Truly living doesn’t have to equate to spending, and you can’t put a price tag on your happiness after all.
For me, this decision has been a game changer. It’s allowed me to miss my partner again, to want her around while also providing me with the time and space I so desperately needed to be me! I’m sure all my extroverts out there would beg to differ (I envy you social butterflies). Regardless of your living situation I genuinely hope that you feel safe to express yourself in whatever way you see fit. In actuality, creating a safe space boils down to catering to your mental health. Who couldn’t benefit from a little extra TLC?