Since I was a child, I’ve always been happy to spend time by myself. Whether it’s cycling to the beach, dining by myself at a restaurant or venturing on a solo trip overseas, I value my alone time. Yet I never once envisioned myself living alone on a full-time basis – until it happened.

Around the time I turned twenty-five, a realisation slowly infiltrated my consciousness: the daily grind of work-home-sleep-repeat was triggering stress and anxiety like never before. I felt constantly drained of emotional and physical energy. I was losing motivation to spend time with my housemates and friends.

I began to crave alone time more and more. I still loved the people in my life, but I felt a void within me that nobody else could fill. I knew I had to actively change my circumstances, or I would end up in a dark headspace.

Being a country girl originally, I decided to move away from Sydney, where I’d lived for the past eight years. I looked for somewhere within close proximity to Sydney that would offer the peaceful coastal lifestyle I grew up with.

As fate would have it, I found a cosy studio flat on the beautiful South Coast, just a short walk from a main train station and the beach. I had some misgivings about living alone, but I knew that this was the transformation I needed.

 

Self-care and lessons on living alone 

 

In just a few months of living alone, I’ve discovered a lot about self-care. Each day, I’m learning how to be kind to myself and how to look after my mental health. I thought I would share some of my learnings with you in this article.

  • Living alone isn’t the same as being lonely. Many people are reluctant to spend long periods of time alone, for fear of becoming lonely. Living alone does have its moments of loneliness – but in my experience, it’s also deeply nourishing for the soul.

Now that I have the time to relax and just “be” by myself, when I am with other people, I feel present, engaged and energised by their company. I call people more often for a chat, prioritise spending time with loved ones, and really, truly value that time. In essence, I now have a good balance between time to myself and time with friends.

  • Spending time with yourself helps you tune in with your emotions. If you feel the urge to fill up your free time with coffee dates, dinners and parties, you might be someone who fears being alone. I went through a phase like this in my early twenties, as a mechanism for avoiding my anxieties.

In the long-term, too much socialising and not enough alone time can distract you from your innermost feelings and mental state. If you don’t spend time with yourself, how can you get to know you, and figure out what’s important to you? I’ve found that living alone encourages self-reflection, helps you tune in with your emotions, and sparks new realisations about what you want in life.

  • It’s liberating to decorate and enjoy your own space. Self-care and emotional nurturing is as much about your physical surroundings as it is about your mindset. Living alone is a great way to surround yourself with the things you love, and add splashes of colour and creativity that represent your unique style. 

You can also enjoy your own house rules, whether it’s leaving your books in piles around the house, creating a permanent collage corner, or setting up a beautiful aquarium. With the opportunity to decorate and arrange your space the way you want it, I guarantee you will feel liberated.

My experience of living alone in my twenties has been brief, but already I’ve become more grounded, self-aware and in tune with my emotions. I’m happier and healthier, to the point where my partner, friends and family have commented on positive changes in my physical appearance.

I highly recommend living alone in your twenties, while you still have relatively few commitments. Create your own space to just “be” and bask in a little self-love. It does wonders for the mind, body and soul.

Sarah McKenzie

Sarah McKenzie

Writer and communications professional at Self-employed
Sarah Rose McKenzie is a writer and communications professional based in the Illawarra. With a background in strategic marketing, Sarah has recently transitioned into the not-for-profit sector and is working in healthcare promotion.
Sarah McKenzie

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