With the pandemic keeping us close to home—and close to roommates and partners—for the foreseeable future, many of the introverts among us are desperately seeking true alone time. With roommates and partners always around the [literal] corner, we’re looking for ways—any ways—to find time and space for ourselves, particularly when living in a small space. So, here are 10 ways to carve out that alone time you desperately need, even when you don’t live alone.
1. Communicate that you need alone time
It’s easier said than done, telling someone who you live with and enjoy spending time with, that, yes, you need to get away from them… or you’re going to lose it. But, communication is the ever-present key to successful relationships. So, break it to your partner, your roommate, or whoever occupies your space: I need alone time. Bring it up as you would any plan, “So, I’m thinking Monday evening I might schedule some quiet time to journal.” Emphasize that it’s a solo activity, not something you are going to do side-by-side. Keep it casual so your friend or loved one doesn’t interpret it as a referendum on your relationship.
2. Wake up earlier
It’s the secret introvert parents have been employing for years. If you get up before everyone else, you can grab a few minutes of peace and quiet to yourself. Wake up just 30 minutes earlier, make a cup of coffee, read a book, or even catch up on Instagram if that’s what fills your cup.
3. Set up agreed-upon spaces during the workday
If you’re an introvert, being on Zoom calls all day can you leave you starved to recharge. Add in an ever-present partner and there’s no solace. Do what you can to carve out your own designated spaces during the day and you’ll find yourself basking in those quick breaks between meetings when you can grab a few moments alone. And, yes, I get it: my husband and I live in a small condo, so I know it’s not always as easy as running off to opposite ends of the house, but even a division of bedroom/ living room can do the trick.
4. Take a daily intention-setting walk
Put on your mask and get out of the house. It’s good for the soul to get some fresh air, plus, it gives you an excuse to slip away from everyone. But, don’t simply walk, make it a time when you can reconnect with yourself, set intentions for your day, and assess where you are right now. Put on an inspiring podcast or the new Taylor Swift album and enjoy your best company: you.
5. Incorporate quiet movement
Yes, working out is an awesome way to spend time on your own. However, if you’re looking for a way to exercise and recharge, think about incorporating intentional, quiet movement like yoga into your routine. Plus, chances are slim that a roommate will crash your daily restorative and meditation session in the way they might join in on a virtual Zumba class. I mean, it’s just a bit more awkward to invite oneself to a dimly-lit, quiet room than a workout with a pounding playlist, right?!
6. Be intentional about your alone time activities
Look, if you need your alone time to consist of catching up on Bravo, you do you! Just be intentional about it. Don’t find yourself with precious solo moments and then wonder where they went. If you’re a planner, write down exactly what you plan on doing with your time alone. Keep a note in your phone of the books you’d like to read next time you’re enjoying an introverted afternoon. Or, rediscover Pinterest and make a “Me Time” board with recipes to bake, topics to journal, plants to parent, or movies to watch.
7. Practice solitude within a crowd
One of my favorite ways to find quiet moments alone is to find myself in a crowd. You’ve probably heard melancholy messages of being alone in a mess of people, but you can also find a sense of peace and solitude when surrounded by strangers. I love going to the Farmer’s Market or a bustling (socially-distanced) park all by my lonesome and enjoying the freedom to slowly stroll about, taking it all in.
8. Create morning and evening rituals… and shut the door
Now’s the time to start indulging in that 12-step skincare routine. Maybe you pick up a bubble bath and book habit. Slather on a 10-minute face mask. Light a candle and write down your intentions for the week. Explore your spirituality through reading and spirituality. Slowly sip your evening tea and savor the aroma. Whatever your pampering or relaxation routine might be, make it your morning or evening ritual. It’s an excuse to shut the door and escape from the world for just a bit.
9. Get into bed earlier
On the opposite end of wake up earlier, you can also get into bed earlier. Leave your partner or roommates in the living room after dinner and head back to your bedroom, even if it’s still light out. Brew a cup of tea, then crack open that book you’ve barely been able to put down.
10. Set up weekly happy hours or date nights
OK, you might still be worried about the hurt feelings that you’re convinced you’ve left in the wake of #1. So, to prove that you still love their company, set up a weekly dinner or date night. Maybe it’s a Friday evening cheese board or a Saturday afternoon cocktail experiment. Perhaps one of you tries a new recipe each week and cooks dinner for the group. Or, you even instate a biweekly book club to discuss all the reading you’re doing by yourselves. Whatever your new tradition looks like, your roommates or partner will have an easier time accepting your introverted request knowing that you also love spending time with them, just so long as you get your alone time, too.