Simon reflects on his first few weeks of living alone in a brand new house and explains how it has caused a huge shift in his mental health situation.
If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ll know I recently moved house. I’ve now been in my new home for 5 weeks, and it’s fair to say that I’ve had the most fun I’ve ever had in a new house. The experience has had an incredibly positive impact on my mental health. I feel energised, positive and, most importantly, happier than I have been for years, largely because I am living alone. Allow me to explain.
Small steps, big impacts
Upon waking up for the first time in a brand new home (at an absurdly early hour), I immediately felt the need to buy belongings and put my stamp on my new home. I’d never lived in a new build before, and I’d never bought a house on my own either, so this represented a hugely exciting opportunity.
Unfortunately, a lot of the ‘big stuff’ for a new house takes time. I couldn’t really go out and put a sofa or dining room table in the back of my car, but I could put a stack of small items in my boot and do a lot of window shopping.
I’m not usually a big fan of shopping in physical shops these days, because as much as possible I like to shop on my phone. But this was different. Suddenly, the prospect of buying even a small bathroom bin filled me with excitement! New tea towels? Yes, please. A memory foam shower mat? Don’t mind if I do.
After a weekend of ‘small’ shopping, I had a lovely array of household items. I didn’t buy anything that would transform my empty house into a showhome, but what I did was enough to make me feel extremely happy in my new space. Considering that I had done it all by myself and purchased things that I (and only I) wanted gave me even more satisfaction.
Research, purchase, delivery
In many of my previous posts, I’ve mentioned that I absolutely love planning. Well, now I had the perfect opportunity to plan. I’d purposely gotten rid of the majority of my possessions so that I could make a completely fresh start in my new home. This meant I was without a sofa, a bed, a washing machine, a fridge, a dining table and a few other large, essential household items.
This equalled a whole new level of excitement for me. I mean, if I found buying new tea towels exciting, the prospect of being solely responsible for finding a new sofa was off the charts exciting! The following week was spent doing a combination of internet research and in-shop research. I must have sat down on over a hundred sofas, laid on as many beds, and opened more fridges than I thought possible. Normally, these types of activities would not have got my juices flowing, but the fact that I was doing it all by myself was incredibly empowering.
Three surmountable problems
I’d be lying if I said it was all plain sailing during the initial days of my new house adventure. I had not factored in the issue of new builds not being registered with Royal Mail and other delivery companies. Top tip: If you ever move to a new build, get in touch with Royal Mail, etc, before you move. It’ll save you a lot of hassle with deliveries. I’ve had a few annoying chats with companies who seem incredulous that my property exists, but I’ve remained positive throughout, and I think (touch wood!) that I’ve got everything resolved now.
Problem number two was my lack of DIY skills. However, because I was feeling a lot more positive and energised, I felt able to take on DIY jobs that I would have previously avoided. Building drawers and constructing tables were suddenly tasks I felt able to complete. I even purchased an electric drill so I could put curtains up.
It may sound basic, but the ‘pre-new house’ me would never have contemplated buying such an item. And you know what? My efforts have been pretty successful. My first attempt at building furniture resulted in a bit of a wobbly drawer, but instead of trying to rectify that, I’m using it as a reminder of my DIY development.
The third and final problem was the waiting time for new furniture to be delivered. Whilst two to three weeks without a dinner table isn’t a huge problem, double the amount of time without a bed or sofa is shall we say, more of an issue. Sitting on garden furniture and sleeping on a camp bed were fine for a few days, but by week two, my body was not happy.
I’d love to say I found a miracle solution, but unfortunately, I had to tough it out until my new furniture arrived. Ordinarily, I would have been really annoyed and down about the situation, but because I was feeling really positive and upbeat, I managed to battle through without any problems. In short, because I had the right frame of mind, I could overcome problems that would have previously caused a lot of stress and anxiety. Better yet, I could overcome them entirely on my own.
What have I discovered?
I’m not saying that moving house is the route to happiness if you are having problems with solo living. As well as being a pretty extreme course of action, it won’t work for everyone. Indeed, it would probably have the opposite effect for many people. It’s also hugely expensive and requires a lot of hard work. So no, I’m not suggesting anybody should move house.
What I am saying, though, is that happiness can be found in the unlikeliest of sources, and life can change for the better when you least expect it. A few weeks ago, the idea that I would enjoy shopping and DIY, and be able to cope without furniture, was ridiculous. But the last few weeks have completely flipped my script.
The important thing to remember is that a lot of time, logic goes completely out of the window. You might be having a tough time living alone (or with other aspects of life), and you might not think there’s light on the horizon. But keep doing the right things, and it will get better. Probably when you least expect it!