Living on your own for the first time can be a huge adjustment-especially if the people you’ve been living with, whether family or friends, have been with you for a long time. Environments likely change, from the specific room(s) you’re in, to the town or city you live in. There are smaller changes, too: new daily routines, new cleaning habits to pick up, new freedom to adapt to, and more. While these changes can feel extremely freeing, they can also cause a lot of anxiety, especially if you already experience anxiety.
I personally just started living on my own for the first time. So recently, I am writing this blog from the first ever apartment I have lived in without a friend or brother by my side. And as someone with a lot of anxiety, it’s already taken a lot of conscious effort to adapt to this change, take care of myself, and ensure I continue my healthy habits. Below are some of the things that are helping me make this change and that could hopefully help you through a similar adjustment in your own life.
- If you’re moving to a new location, look up the town/city in advance and follow some businesses, nonprofits, artists, and/or government offices in the area. Social media makes it extremely easy to learn about new places, restaurants, and even “life hacks” for specific locations. Before I made the move, I followed the official Instagram account for my new town, where posts and stories are constantly added to showcase different local hotspots. Interacting with these posts before I actually moved allowed me to feel like I knew the town a little bit before I officially moved, and it gave me a ton of cool restaurants to check out that I never would have thought of myself.
- Make your new space “yours” as soon as you’re able to. Unpacking and setting up a new place can be stressful, but it can sometimes be even more anxiety-inducing to look at unpacked boxes and blank walls. If you have something that will immediately make your space feel like a home, put that out as soon as you can so you can start to own the space. This can help you acclimate to the new environment, and it can also make it easier to continue accepting that this new space is now your own. Personally, I immediately set up some books and stuffed animals so that my new bedroom felt like it’d been mine forever.
- Even if they’re a hundred miles away and you only keep in touch via text, maintain contact with your support system. Especially if your support system were the people you previously lived with, it can be difficult to separate from them. You can make it clear to them that you want to stay in contact-and maybe even that you still would love to lean on them at times. There’s no rule that your support system needs to always be in your physical presence! Despite being hundreds of miles away, my mom is still my biggest supporter, especially in managing my mental health. Plus, you-or I-can always find new (or simply additional) support from people physically around you as you get to know people in your new environment.
- Lastly, don’t let yourself stay at home alone all the time. Alone time can be great, but it’s also important to get out of the same room or house every now and then-even if it’s just to take a walk for the mail or go to the grocery store. It can be difficult to find new stores to shop at, new gas stations to frequent, or new restaurants to enjoy, but it’s even worse to never find those places at all. If you don’t want to go out alone, perhaps there is someone in your building or a coworker who would be willing to show you around a little bit. At minimum, you can always text someone in a different place-like the support system you’ve come to rely on-and let them know where you’re going so that someone knows your location while you explore. Just don’t wallow away the time you have in this new place-even if your anxiety tells you wallowing seems like a good idea.
Those are some of the things I’ve learned so far in living on my own for the first time. I’m hoping to learn even more and to continue managing my anxiety in this new place, even if being alone makes things seem a little scarier at first. If you will be living on your own soon, I hope some of these tips are able to help you–and that you grow more confident in your abilities to live and take care of yourself, too.