5 responsible things you definitely don’t need to do if you live alone

The moment you start to live on your own, your perspective shifts from being overly concerned about roommates and parents to solely focusing on your own priorities and needs. There’s a reason why people say living alone can feel like an actual paradise. It allows you to do whatever you want without having to answer to anyone else.

But sometimes, when we live alone, we assume we have to be responsible 24/7. And according to clinical psychologist, Dr. Carla Marie Manly, there is a primitive reason why this occurs.

"On a primitive level, humans want to feel safe and secure. The desire to have our basic needs met, from food and clothing to shelter, is very natural and instinctive. When we are partnered or in a family, the burden of attending to basic needs is shared, but when a person is single, the responsibilities fall on the shoulders of one person. And so, the single person will feel driven to do what it takes to ensure safety and security," she says.

The truth is, when you live alone, no one is going to take out the garbage, clean the dishes, or do laundry but you. And while you could pay for services to help with these everyday chores, not everyone has the luxury to do so. That’s why Dr. Manly recommends to let some responsibilities fall by the wayside when you have the ability to just let them go. “This ‘need to do it all solo’ can become a chronic mindset and can lead to severe stress. As such, it can be wise to learn to let go of the smaller issues now and again to allow the body and mind to rest,” she says.

Now, we don’t recommend throwing responsibility out of the window for a life of utter recklessness and chaos, but we do understand there’s some stuff you definitely don’t need to stress over if you live alone. Here are 5 responsible things you don’t need to do on a daily basis if you live alone.

1. Being friendly with your neighbor.

Living alone doesn’t mean you need to become buddy-buddy with your neighbor(s). You may feel like it’s the adult thing to do to introduce yourself, bring over a pie, and offer to watch their dog, but if you’re simply not feeling it, then don’t force yourself to do it, especially if it makes you feel uncomfortable. “Some people enjoy interacting with their neighbors whereas some people are introverted or private and prefer to have more solitary time,” Dr. Manly says.

The great thing about being alone is that you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself. So instead of rushing yourself to get to know your neighbors, take all the time you need to settle into your space and then opt for other ways to connect when the time is right. “[While] a bit of time with neighbors can be helpful in creating a community atmosphere, those who are more introverted may do better with short coffee dates or other light interactions,” she says.

2. Having your home be picture-perfect.

While most of us dream of having a Pinterest-perfect home, the stress of creating a flawlessly styled apartment can be ten-fold when you live by yourself. But, rather than worrying about what others will think of your space, it’s best to style your home with things that will make you feel comfortable. “[It] can be helpful to steer away from comparing your home space to what others may have. Constantly trying to create an ideal, picture-perfect home is not only exhausting and expensive, [but] it’s not good for the environment [either],” she says.

At the end of the day, the “responsible” thing to do is find items that you love, even if they’re not “worthy” of being on Pinterest. This might mean finding unique items from one-of-a-kind stores that have a bit a history to them. “A smart, eco-friendly alternative is to have fun searching thrift stores and flea markets to create low-cost, unique looks that reflect you—not someone else,” Dr. Manly adds.

3. Completing chores during your days off.

“It can be tempting to utilize your weekends to complete household tasks and to-do lists after a busy week, but the body and mind need time to rest and rejuvenate after a long weekend,” says Dr. Manly. While staying on top of chores can help alleviate depression and mental stress, it doesn’t mean you have to stress yourself out just to stay on top of every single chore in your house.

“It’s fine to spend a good chunk of a Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning tending to chores and to-do lists, but at least one full weekend day should be devoted to relaxation. This is essential for increasing overall wellness, reducing burn out, and feeling emotionally ready for the next week ahead,” she says.

4. Not spending money on services that will make your life easier.

Everyday chores can become overwhelming when you’re the only home dweller living your abode. The reality is, there’s sometimes not enough time in the day to go to work, hang with loved ones, clean your apartment, go food shopping, and maintain your health and wellness. And if you have the financial means and live in a city where you’re able to invest in services to lighten the load, then you may want to do it for your peace of mind, even if it doesn’t feel like it’s the “responsible” thing to do.

"For those who live alone, it can be especially important to take advantage of supportive measures to make life easier. This can come in the form of paying for grocery delivery, a pet walker, or a cleaning service if it’s financially feasible. Such little luxuries are often great motivators and reminders of the benefits of  busy, long workweeks," Dr. Manly says.

However, it’s completely natural to battle yourself with this ideal. You may think: Why would I want to pay for a service when I could do it myself? However, according to Dr. Manly, even if you see yourself as highly independent or cautious with your money, it’s never a bad idea to “invest in your peace of mind, time off, and appropriate assistance” to make life a little easier every once in a while.

5. Spending a lot of time doing nothing.

Listen, interacting with people on a regular basis can take a lot out of you, even if you’re in good company. But going home to an empty place means you can take as much time as you need to unwind and decompress in peace. “It’s always important to invest in self-care in a variety of ways, such as taking breaks from chores, treating oneself occasionally to affordable little luxuries, and enjoying exercise breaks. When we focus solely on working, chronic stress can set in. Having fun and creating enjoyable moments give life greater meaning,” Dr. Manly says.

Your method might be a bit unconventional and others might view your tendency to loaf around as a colossal waste of time, but it’s your time. The beautiful thing is you get to decide how you spend it—irresponsibly or otherwise.

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