Self-Isolation and Roommates: 4 Things to Remember If You Feel Your Sanity Slipping


I’d consider myself pretty lucky with my roommate situation. I live with two of my best friends (and two border collies), and a general night at my house involves Netflix in the living room, a bottle of pinot noir, and lots of giggly conversation. We share dishes and food and pet responsibilities, and there have been many a night where we’ve knocked at each other through the walls and acted half our age. Don’t get me wrong: it’s certainly not always perfect, and we get in arguments pretty regularly, but we spend most of the time loving each other. I’ve also experienced a time where my roommate situation was less than ideal, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. 

I feel pretty #blessed to have roommates that I love, but this quarantine situation is driving all three of us up the wall. 

The thing is, we’re used to being with each other from about 6pm to 10pm, plus weekends. What we’re not used to is working from home—with each other—from 8am to 5pm, and then still being stuck with each other until going to bed. This roommate situation is repeating itself all over the world, but isolating at home with your roomies during quarantine is a much more entertaining way to flatten the curve than pouting alone in your bedroom. Here are the ways we’ve managed to not kill each other (yet). 


1. Take advantage of having your own space

While the community aspect of having roommates can be really great, it’s easy to get tired of each other, especially in a situation like with COVID-19, where you’re actually stuck with each other’s company. Don’t hesitate to go into your room, shut the door, and take some time to yourself. Whether you read a book, start a new show, or simply take a nap, make sure to create some separation. Honestly, nothing can sour a roommate quarantine zone like refusing to give each other space. 

On the other hand, there are a lot of roommate dynamics that make you feel like you can’t leave your own space—I’ve been there. During something like a quarantine, the idea of being stuck in your own space can seem and become completely isolating. Instead of holing up on your bed or at your desk, flip the script and take advantage of the common area in your house or apartment. You pay rent like everyone else, so you deserve to take up your own space. 


2. Keep in mind that you all have different work styles

Regardless of how much you love your roommates, you probably aren’t spending every second of every workday together. Even if you all work from home regularly, odds are that you’re not always literally working from your home 24/7. In a situation like the unprecedented one we’re in now, it’s vital to realize that the likelihood of having the same work style as your roommate is close to zero. Sit down and have a conversation with each other about what your separate work situations and styles are like, and make a point to work around each other the best you can. One of you may need to set up a double monitor from the kitchen table, and one of you may work best from the kitchen counter. One of you may love music while you work, while the other one might prefer complete silence. 

Compromise with each other, and realize that this might really not be ideal for anyone involved. Instead of getting upset with each other or passive aggressively tapping your keyboards, set boundaries and rules early on, and stick to them. 


3. Get ahead on spring cleaning

Your Instagram feed is probably filled with curated graphics telling you to chase your dreams, write that novel, and start a business. If you want to do that, that rocks! But, it might be a little unrealistic if you’re feeling anxious, heavy, and generally unmotivated to do things. However, it is the perfect time to face some things you haven’t wanted to face—like organizing the pantry, wiping down baseboards, and vacuuming the rugs—with roommates to help you. 

Don’t worry about going full-on Martha Stewart around your house with your roommates, but take advantage of your forced time indoors to get some things done. While you can’t control what’s going on outside the doors of your home, you can control all of those expired cans in your pantry.


4. Take advantage of not having to completely self-isolate

While living alone is awesome, having people to share your space and life with on a daily basis is, too. In a time where a lot of people are feeling incredibly alone, being lucky enough to have people that live in close quarters with you can be a huge blessing. Instead of keeping completely to yourselves, take advantage of cultivating even a small community within your own home. For us, it’s looking like a scary amount of movies and plenty of wine. For you, it might just look like a couple of conversations in the kitchen with someone you don’t talk to very much. By taking advantage of having faces to see and people to talk to, the heaviness doesn’t seem so heavy. Pro tip: a revisitation of all of your favorite DCOM’s on Disney+ with your roommates doesn’t hurt, either. I’m still fully team Cadet Kelly.