Living alone for the first time can be a shock and an incredibly tough adjustment, especially for students and young adults living with mental illness. However, the opportunity for growth through solitude can be rewarding. Learning how to adapt to an independent lifestyle is a process, but we’re here to help make it as smooth of a transition as possible.
Living alone in a dorm is a lot different from living alone in an apartment for the first time. In a dorm, you are surrounded by people and a lot of the friends you will make often live walking distance from you.
Living Alone in a Suite
It is important to get along with your suitemates if you live in a suite style single dorm. Becoming friends with your roommates can help with loneliness and also provide a healthy living environment for everybody. Start by setting some ground rules for your living space, such as boundaries regarding cleaning, noise levels, and general upkeep, can prevent tension between you and your suitemates. Luckily, since you have your own bedroom, if things become too much, taking space from each other can help tension decrease.
Living alone for the first time in an apartment can be a much bigger shock. You have many more responsibilities, such as groceries, commuting to school and work, and your friends might live a distance away from you too. So, here are some tips and tricks on how to handle living alone for the first time while conquering your new, independent lifestyle.
If I suffer with severe mental health disparities, how should I cope with loneliness?
- First, identify warning signs that your mental health may be on the decline. Some early warning signs, according to Blurt It Out, are isolating ourselves, ignoring people’s calls, giving up on meals, or ditching an attempt to complete daily tasks.
- Secondly, build a strong support system. A sense of community and friendship can go a long way on bad mental health days.
- Third, make a plan in case a bad mental health day were to occur so you know exactly what to do. If you are prone to self-harm, include ways to avoid that in your plan. If you suffer from extreme depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or loneliness, contact a trusted health professional to help you create your mental health plan.
- Overall, in order to avoid bad mental health days, create a routine for yourself and keep yourself occupied. Having a routine doesn’t mean that we can’t go on spontaneous outings with friends, but instead keeping ourselves occupied so we don’t let that overarching feeling of loneliness overwhelm us.
1. Tip - Talk to your friends.
- Sometimes, if you’re in college, your friends can live a good distance from you or may be interning abroad for a good chunk of time. Just know, just because they’re out of sight, doesn’t mean they’re out of touch completely. It can be hard maintaining a long distance friendship, but talking to friends over the phone can help ease the loneliness of living alone.
2. Tip - Do things that you would do with other people, just by yourself.
- Take yourself on dates. Just because your friends aren’t close to you right now, and just because you live alone, that doesn’t mean that you have to stop enjoying life. Take yourself out to a movie, a cooking class, a cute cafe, or a yoga class. Start prioritizing self-care and taking yourself on dates!
3. Tip - Read self-care books or guided journals.
- If you struggle with prioritizing yourself, read some personal growth and self-care books. Not only will it keep you occupied, but you can accomplish so much personal growth without distraction. Here are some suggestions:
4. Tip - Get a pet.
- If you struggle with finding a good, set routine, and you generally don’t have a lot of responsibilities, adopting a pet may be a good idea for you. According to Cuteness, pets can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, can ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and can improve cardiovascular health. Along with this, caring for an animal can add routine and responsibility in your life, distracting you from living alone.
5. Tip - Practice yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.
- Yoga has many physical benefits, according to the American Osteopathic Association. Some physical benefits are increased flexibility and muscle strength, weight reduction, maintaining a balanced metabolism, and improved athletic performance. Along with this, yoga and meditation has multiple mental health benefits as well. Practicing yoga regularly creates mental clarity and calmness, increases body awareness, relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the ind, centers attention, and sharpens concentration.
6. Tip - Touch some grass.
- Yes, I said it. Touch grass. According to the American Psychological Association, spending time in nature can improve mood, reduce feelings of stress and anger, help you feel more relaxed, reduce loneliness, and can improve your confidence and self-esteem. Along with this, spending time in nature helps you feel more connected to Earth and can even help you get to meet new people.
7. Tip - Do arts and crafts.
- According to Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups, doing arts and crafts can help take your mind off of everyday life and can provide a relaxing distraction. In fact, art therapy is commonly used to treat PTSD and depression. Creating art can also boost self-esteem and provide a sense of accomplishment.
8. Tip - Clean your space.
- According to experts, a disorganized and messy space can contribute to feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. Clutter can make it difficult to relax and can often lead to feelings of embarrassment and guilt. But, we’ve all been there. Decluttering your space can reduce stress and can help you gain a sense of control amidst the chaos.
9. Tip - Join a club or class.
- If you have a special hobby or love for something, whether it’s cooking, working out, or even chess, chances are, there’s a club or group for it. Get out of the house for a little bit to do something you love with like minded people. They might even end up being your close friend someday.
10. Tip - If you suffer with extreme depression or anxiety, try a therapy group instead/in addition to one on one therapy.
- According to experts, group therapy offers the unique ability to learn from others who have similar struggles. The nature of group therapy also helps promote social skills, especially if you tend to withdraw when anxiety or depression sets in. Along with this, you can make friends while tackling depression and anxiety.
I am a fall editorial assistant at Leaf Group! I am a sophomore at The University of Missouri, Columbia, majoring in journalism! I am mainly interested in political and/or investigative journalism when I graduate, but as of right now, I love just about any aspect of journalism!