Why Do You need Solitude?
According to the Meno Clinic, invading someone’s personal space causes stress and anxiety. We are not okay with strangers being in our space. It causes us to feel awkward and uncomfortable. Usually we feel better with family being in our space; but what about family members always being in our space? Do we need space from them, too? The answer is YES.
“Stress causes over 75-90 percent of the doctor’s visits and illnesses that we encounter. Over time, stress can become chronic and has been linked to a host of major illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, depression, autoimmune diseases and reproductive problems, along with more minor maladies like stomach upset, back pain, headaches and fatigue. So, if your space is constantly being invaded, and you have no place to go for a moment of solitude, your mental and physical health could be at risk. Your relationships can also suffer if neither partner has room to grow independently in a space, they can call their own.”
So, what about social distancing and the fact now that we are either working from home or are in solitude at our office?
“There are downsides though – the toll of too much personal space could manifest within our friendships, so says Professor Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist, of the University of Oxford. “Our whole evolutionary strategy is built upon communal sharing as a cost of survival and successful reproduction, essentially,” Dunbar tells me. “So, everything we do is, in those terms, designed to create an efficient working community. We are still very dependent on that. And our social world is still very, very small.”
We depend on physical contact, he says, to maintain friendships and relationships. His prior – widely reported – research shows that we have a maximum of 150, a mix of friends and acquaintances. More personal space means that the “decay rate” on these friendships is at an all-time high. “There’s something about the importance of eye contact in these relationships that just can’t be replicated,” he says.”
How do we balance the social distancing, the need for being around others, and the solitude of our own space?
You trust yourself. If you feel the stress or fears of being around people right now, find a place at work or at home where you can make your own place. We will talk more about this in a minute.
If you feel like you want to be around people, then plan a family night at home; or, Zoom or Facetime some friends. We will talk more about this in another lesson.
But the key is to listen to your body’s reactions. When you are anxious or nervous, ask “why”? Gauge how much you have been around people.
Ask families to help with social boundaries and private time. We will be discussing this in more detail in this next lesson.
Know what you want, ask for it, and set your boundaries.
How Do You Create Your Own Personal Get Away?
- Have each family member pick their own special place, and when they get stressed or just want to get away, then it is agreed that no one will bother them. There must be time limits for both adults and kids. If someone begins to isolate or stay away too long, then this must be addressed. A perfect thing is to plan a family night, parent night without the kids, kids’ choice night, mommy and son, daddy and daughter, and “Me” Night. Be creative and have fun with it. Switch it up. This may simply be 30 minutes to an hour, but each person has a special night.
- Now, find a space for you. It depends upon how big your home is and how many people are in your family. I have a friend who has a hall closet and the sign says Mommy’s Room and when she goes in there to read no one bothers her. It can be a porch swing, a bubble bath, or an area sectioned off with a curtain. It may also be as large as a room, a tent in the backyard, or a loft area. It all has to do with you making do with what you have.
- How long do you stay in the room? You set the parameters. 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour? A Day to Yourself?
- If you are in a relationship, be careful that this is not where you go ALL the time or when you are mad. This should be a space that brings you joy. Balance your relationship and time together, plus have time apart. Both are needed.
- Decorate it for you. Keep a journal, pen, a book, and flashlight there for you to write or read. Do you do crafts? Is this a craft room? What about video games and entertainment? Do you have a favorite chair? Pillow? How do you keep it quiet for you?
- Do you collect things? I collect books and graphic novels and movies… Create a space for each of those and enjoy them in that area. My comic books and yoga books are in my front room. Funny combination, right? They are beside my Thai mat and that is where I lay to read. I do have bookshelves in my kitchen. That is my collection of Harry Potter and other fiction. I do more projects at my kitchen table than eating. My workout room has my work out books, logs, how to’s, and things like that. I have my spiritual books in a private closet that no one can see, and my self-care books are in a bookshelf in my bedroom so I can read before I go to bed. Make it yours.
- Inspire your kids to collect and have a special area for it. My now 27-year-old son had Pokémon, Yu Gi Oh, and other cards. They would be everywhere until I bought a card table and big tub– I told him that this was his Poke world. He would go there for fun and when he got stressed. He still has that table and the cards in his apartment. Always include your children. They mimic us in both the bad and the good we do. If we set the example, they will understand the rules and will be less likely to invade our space.
Here is a book suggestion How to Make a House a Home: Creating a Purposeful, Personal Space Hardcover – April 14, 2020 by Ariel Kaye. Available on amazon https://amzn.to/2YZNN41