In this blog from the Counselling Service, we explore how to make the most of your personal space to make it work for you.
It has always been a big moment, opening the door for the first time to the space in which you will be making a life for an academic year. This year it’s even bigger. You may be spending much more of your life within these four walls than in normal times and in some circumstances all of your time there should you have to self-isolate. There will be less access to communal spaces, you may spend less time in other students’ rooms, and you may be engaging in activities like attending lectures right here, within these four not-very-far-apart walls. In previous years, you might have thought of your room as a place in which to retreat from the world. Now, to a much greater extent, it IS your world.
Some people have the added challenge of settling into a room that is smaller or otherwise less appealing than other students’ rooms, and this will be made harder by the thought of how much more time will be spent there due to Covid. Feelings of frustration and disappointment are natural, but try not to get stuck there. Make peace with the space and get on with making it your own.
As you do this, think about ways to make your room feel like a completely different room at different times: a work-space when you want to work, and a relaxation space at other times.
- Have clearly designated zones for different kinds of activity: studying, relaxing, sleeping, etc.
- Dress appropriately for each activity, even though they all take place in your room
- Get in the habit of putting your work away completely when you finish a working session: close the books, tidy your papers, shut the laptop. If you’re going to stay sane, it is important to be able to relax in a room that doesn’t given constant visual reminders of academic work
- Change the lighting when you move from work time to relaxation time. Do this in a consistent way so that you come to associate bright light, desk lamp on with working, and softer or coloured light with relaxation.
Extend your space by identifying one or two outdoor spaces to make your own—a particular tree you like sitting under, or a bench in the meadows. You’ll want to spend time in lots of difference spaces, but choosing some to visit regularly and think of as an extension of home may help you to not feel quite so claustrophobic and shut in.
Finally, make sure your room brings you some pleasure. If it doesn’t, think about what would help: buy a plant, pin up some photos, resolve to retrieve the guitar you left behind but realise, now, you would like. For better or for worse, this is your Oxford home. Make the most of it!