Space to Just Be




Our most recent family vacation has underscored the need our family has for space. Space to just be. As we traveled, we stayed in one regular hotel room, a 3-bedroom house, and a hotel room suite that had an extra sitting room through a connecting door. We were all happiest when we had space to spread out and just be. In retrospect the most difficult vacation we went on was when all four of us were in one hotel room for 3 nights. Space was also the reason we sold our 26-foot travel trailer after less than a year. We were always tripping over each other and on each other's nerves.

Humans need many different kinds of space. We need physical, mental and emotional space. It seems that if one person in a relationship says that they need space, it is often taken as the death knell of a relationship. It's over, done for, not to be fixed. However, humans really need space, or we become anxious and irritable.

Physical space helps us feel relaxed and free. Have you ever been shopping in a crowded store? Not very relaxing is it? How about four people in a hotel room with all their personal belongings? Very stressful. Working in a small area feels confining and restricting. Some people have claustrophobia from small spaces - a fear of having no escape. Whenever I am in a place that is full of people or things, I immediately feel stress and unease. This includes personal space, the distance we are comfortable standing next to others. For those of you living in a tiny house, I give you a lot of credit.

We need emotional space. That need for space in a relationship that I mentioned above? We all need this. We need the ability to be ourselves, not constantly judged, or acting the way someone else wants us to or the way we think we need to act. By finding some space, which equates to time without the other person, we can rejuvenate our spirit, think more rationally, and evaluate what we want. Yes, sometimes that means we don't want to be in the relationship, but other times it gives us energy to renew our relationship. This happens in small ways everyday when you and your significant other spend time apart. You get to be yourself, but you also can renew the excitement of being with the other person.

Mental space: For me, this is the space to just be. It is space for thinking, or reading, or de-stressing, or relaxing. It is often accompanied by physical space, but is usually a time when I disconnect mentally from what is going on around me and let my mind wander. Parents of young children often crave the times when someone isn't asking a million questions or demanding attention. Young adults want this time away from their parents without a million questions or demands. For me to have mental space, I first need to start with the physical space.

How do we achieve space in our lives?

Declutter physical things - There are so many good blog posts about the steps you can take to start decluttering your house of under-used, and unused items. Even items that just don't make you as happy any more (clothing for one.) Also, declutter your counter tops and the tops of tables, dressers etc. It is amazing how calm you feel when the room doesn't have stuff sitting everywhere.

Time to yourself - Allow yourself some time alone. Whether you are in relationship, or have young children, it is essential to spend some time alone. I read about one mom who has long episodes in the bathroom. Hey, my dad always read the newspaper there, so why not? Seriously, explaining to people that it is important to have some time to yourself is vital. If your significant other can't understand why you spend time with friends, encourage them to also spend time with friends. It often goes over easier that way.

Declutter your life of not just physical things, but obligations, chores, committees, running kids everywhere and wasting time on passive activities (Facebook is a good one.) Once your mind is free of stress, distractions, and demands from others, you are able to allow yourself the mental freedom to just be.

What are your thoughts on ways to achieve space in your life?

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