No matter how much we like to socialise, each one of us feels the need to be alone, from time to time. We crave that personal space, both emotional and physical. That’s why we feel uncomfortable when someone stands very close to us—it invades our personal boundaries.
Our personal space is a delicate, elastic and transparent capsule around us. It is an area where we can be ourselves and can define our comfort levels. When we don’t get the comfort of our personal borders, we get stressed, exhausted, irritated and frustrated.
Lack of personal space hampers our personal development and erodes our individuality. That’s why it’s important to make conscious efforts to bask in the warmth of your own company.
Make it happen
Commuting gives you an excellent opportunity to spend some much-needed time for yourself, even in a crowd. When travelling, resist the urge to talk to anyone.
Plugging some earphones to your ears discourages dialogue. If you usually have company, excuse yourself citing some reason and go alone.
Just spend that time looking around, observing things, thinking anything you like. Even try taking a different mode of transport. Do what you feel like: feel like taking a cab home? Do it. Get lost in your own reverie.
Find a special place that is yours—it might be a bench in a nearby garden or even your balcony, your special chair…any place which is yours and yours alone and where no one is likely to disturb you.
Once in a while, visit that place and spend time there just experiencing its vibrations. You might want to leave your cell phone at home.
Just take off under the pretext of doing some household chores. You will be amazed at how refreshing even something as mundane as vegetable shopping can feel.
It gives you the chance to be yourself, see different things and take your own decisions, do some friendly banter with your grocer or your milkman. While you are at it, stop at a nearby coffee shop if you feel like and spend some time whiling away. You can even spend a whole day at a mall by yourself, but keep that for the time when your folks are out of town.
If you think hard enough, you’ll come up with your own ways to be physically away from the whole jingbang.
Spend it well
Now that you have some idea about how to get your own me-time, here are some suggestions on making it special…
Make some time for doing something creative—painting, sketching, embroidery, writing, sculpturing, gardening or anything that’s your hobby and skill. The results of your creative efforts will fuel your self-esteem.
Spend time with a book, play an online game, or watch your favourite programme on television—alone. It’s a good way to go into your space.
Just take a cuppa coffee or tea and sit in your balcony watching the traffic go by.
Book an appointment at a good spa / salon and pamper yourself to your heart’s desire. Join a class/club: Join some group [dance class, book club, laughter club]. Do it not because it’s useful but because you like it—just for fun.
Be a slug
Take a day off from mundane household chores and declare to others that you’re just going to be a slug and won’t do anything. Just chill, forget all else.
When you are bogged down by someone’s constant interference with your decisions, thoughts and discussions, then the things you do to maintain your personal space do not prove to be effective.
That’s because the moment you are out of your comfort zone, the intrusions begin and your stress shoots up. Handle such intrusions first. You may need to educate others on how you need some detachment to feed your personal space and how it rejuvenates you enough to help you re-attach with full vigour.
Many of us feel compelled to do something that our friends or colleagues seem to be doing for their personal space. This simply adds to our stress and does nothing to refresh us, no matter how much time, energy or money we spend on it.
When you do something to maintain your personal space, it should refresh you. Period. If spending a day at a spa compounds your problems by making you feel guilty, then it’s not a good way of creating personal space. Find another way.
Your way to attain personal space may not be restful, but if it refreshes you thoroughly and brings back that equilibrium, then that’s the method for you. It’s YOUR personal space, and you have the freedom and right to do it YOUR way.
Why you need that space
Maintaining a space around yourself helps in many ways:
Being alone gives us a chance to have an inner dialogue. This inner, non-verbal dialogue is an important tool in knowing, evaluating, analysing and correcting self. It also helps us have a way to get over and mourn our losses or pains.
Quiet and peace
We need to cut from chaos from time to time. There is a biological need in everyone to maintain an equilibrium or homeostasis in our physical and mental departments. The hullabaloo of everyday life raises our stress levels.
Like a rubber band, it can stretch up to a certain point and beyond that, it snaps. This elasticity, though varies from person to person, is definitely not infinite. Some quiet time with ourselves helps restore that flexibility, preparing us to stretch again.
Relaxation is different from peace. When tensed, we cannot relax even in a peaceful environment. And sometimes, we are able to relax even in a crowded place. While peace re-energises our brain and body, relaxation re-energises our mind and soul.
We need to get personal space to feel relaxed. Relaxed people are happy. Relaxation helps us in our interpersonal relationships.
A husband who tends to his personal space after hectic office hours is able to connect to his wife better. Similarly, a busy mother feels more refreshed feels more affectionate towards her kids after a relaxed day.
The importance of personal space for self development can never be emphasised enough. In absence of personal space, the development of a person takes a back seat. One can think, plan, innovate, invent, pursue hobbies, develop interests and have ideas only when their personal space is given due respect.