The world around us is changing at an alarming rate, forcing many of us to rethink our plans for the next few months. With these changes may come the need to move back into our hometowns. Of course, this presents a much bigger problem: moving out of Oxford accommodation over the vacation period can already be an arduous process of living out of bags for weeks and piling up stuff that you don’t need at home. However, the prospect of staying at home next term, when teaching will most likely take place online, as well as the current need to practice social distancing, means that finding workspaces in public libraries and cafes is no longer an option. To combat my fears over being at home for possibly months, I’ve had to find ways of adapting the space that I am currently in to being home for the whole day and having to exercise, study, relax and sleep, all in one room.
The first thing I knew I had to start tackling was the mountain of bags taking up half the floor space in my room. I started by clearing out things I no longer wear: shoes, clothes, accessories, everything. I didn’t do this all in a day, but divided tasks to maintain a sense of accomplishment. This means I’m technically still in the clear out phase! If you haven’t touched something in six months, you’ve got to ask yourself if it’s really that necessary to keep. If you have siblings, it might be a good idea to try and get them to do the same, especially if you share a room. Try and be responsible with the stuff you don’t need by reselling, donating or recycling wherever possible. If you have a lot of books, you can send them to your friends and get them to do the same in return. That way, you always have something to read.
Once the things you don’t need are gone and there is a little space to walk around, it’s time to focus on how to make your spaces feel different. Sitting rooms and dining rooms are not an option for everyone, so making the room you spend most of your time in a place where you can do multiple things is key. First of all, make sure you have a bed cover, even if it’s just a sheet you toss over your bed. I’ve found that after some snacking breaks, it’s easy to leave things like crumbs and dust behind. To make your bed both a chilling and a sleeping space, make sure your duvet, pillow and sheets stay nice and clean under the cover. If you have any spare pillows that you don’t sleep on, you can chuck them over the sheet to rest on while you eat snacks, read books or watch a film.
If you have a desk space, clear it! Make sure this can be a space to work if you need it to be. If you want to make sure you don’t snack at your desk, keep treats off the table and in a separate box or bag away from where you’re working. I find keeping things that remind me to do little bits of reading helpful, for example placing the book I need to start on my desk the night before. I also have much more limited space for all my books and folders than I used to at university so I ordered some cheap magazine files to keep different subjects in one place (you can buy at least 2 for £4 on eBay, including delivery). Or you could just use an old cardboard box, cut it into shape and decorate it yourself. You can then store these under the desk to save space if you don’t have shelves. If you are super limited in space and need a desk, you might want to invest in a small folding table (around £35 on eBay) or a bed desk (around £15 on eBay).
If you have any floor space, you can use it for daily exercise. If you can’t go outside for a walk, then indoor Zumba, yoga and cardio sessions are a great option. Yoga mats are widely available online and YouTube fitness sessions are free! I find that being indoors makes you feel less inclined to commit to exercise, so having items such as a yoga mat in your eyeline or putting reminders on your phone gives you a little more motivation to stay healthy. Being back in a room filled with objects that reflect a younger, different version of yourself may feel strange. But pictures of friends and postcards of places you’ve been to can be little reminders that things will eventually start to feel more normal again. I use the FreePrints app for printing pictures which is really cheap and delivers them to your door. If you share a room with siblings, you could encourage them to do this together, so that they don’t feel you’re taking over their space. If you have a much younger sibling at home, try having a weekly competition where the best piece of art they create can go on a special place on the wall. This will also keep them busy when you need to study and write essays.
Try to make the space you’re in one where you set the rules. If that means having a box in your room where you put all your gadgets away for a while, do it. But remember not to be too harsh on yourself – your comfort and well-being matter and should always come first.