In today's interconnected world, it can (usually) be hard to get some space just for yourself. When we're in the throes of our normal routines, alone time can feel like something of a luxury. And when we're stuck indoors for long stretches with the family, it can be even more difficult.
Even if your house is relatively big, it can be hard to create a sense of privacy that appeals to your personality. A survey conducted by Ikea last month revealed 53 per cent of UAE residents believe the size of their homes doesn't affect how much privacy they get, while the rest think they would need to move to a bigger home to get the solo space they want. But there are two areas in your home where you can claim some genuine time on your own: the bedroom and the bathroom. Here, we explain how to go about transforming these spaces into calm oases where you can escape the world.
Set the mood with scented candles
For a holistic relaxation experience, indulge all of your senses by lighting scented candles around the room. Because our sense of smell is so powerfully linked to memory, you'll start to associate tranquillity with the aroma of your chosen candle range and your body will ease into relaxation mode as soon as you light up. Scented candles are an especially powerful choice for parents because, chances are, if you have young children, you don't often get a chance to light candles. So just being able to do so will enhance the sense of adults-only privacy.
Use essential oils to relax or invigorate
Another option for creating a soothing scented sanctuary is a diffuser, which works by allowing essential oils to dissipate into the air naturally or using heat. You can get traditional ceramic ones, reed diffusers or modern electric ones. Choose a relaxing oil base such as lavender, which is well known for its relaxing qualities. Alternatively, if you want to leave your zone of privacy feeling invigorated and refreshed, then try cool eucalyptus, fresh lime or uplifting cinnamon.
Make it a tech-free zone
According to the Ikea study, 64 per cent of UAE residents think turning technology off is key to achieving privacy. It's certainly not easy to completely switch off and enjoy a soak in the tub or read a book in bed when you've got Facebook, WhatsApp or your email pinging notifications at you every other minute. So, when it comes to creating a bedroom or bathroom sanctuary, think old-school and bring a book to entertain you, leaving the screens outside. That way you really will be by yourself, giving you the privacy hit you crave.
Invest in quality bedding
When you're ready to shut the world out for the night, there's nothing better than snuggling under freshly laundered sheets. Go for the highest quality you can afford – remember, this is an investment in your well-being. Egyptian cotton or sumptuous silk combined with goose down pillows and faux fur throws will offer the sense of luxury you might be missing in life. Weighted blankets are a great choice if you struggle with anxiety or insomnia.
Invest in details just for you
By definition, a sanctuary is a personal space and what makes it special will differ from person to person. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in this space. Is there calm music playing as you relax? You might want to invest in a waterproof bathroom speaker. Are you soaking in a tub with a book and a smoothie? Get yourself one of those handy bath trays so you have somewhere to put them. Whatever helps you to get away from the hustle and bustle of life to centre yourself and focus on the here and now, those are the things you need to ensure your bedroom and bathroom can provide for you.
Keep it clutter-free
It's difficult to relax when you're surrounded by clutter, especially when it's stuff that belongs to other people. It might be a family project, but having a big clear out is a great starting point. Think about Marie Kondo's tip: keep only those things that spark joy. The next step is to find appropriate storage, so everything that's left has a home. That makes tidying so much easier and gives you that high-end hotel feel.
Finally, be clear with the people who share your home that it's important these spaces are left in a good state after being used. That way, when you're ready to shut yourself away, you've got an environment that's suitable for immediate relaxation.
Create a green oasis
The laws of biophilia tell us that human beings are inherently connected with nature. Modern city dwellers spend very little time with nature and therefore miss out on the well-being benefits that come with it. That's why filling your home with plants can make you feel good. For your bedroom, choose deliciously scented indoor jasmine and luscious palms to add a sense of opulence and also keep the air free of toxins. Bathrooms are often darker, so choose plants that don't need as much light and don't mind being damp – think ferns, peace lilies and orchids.
Limit access for the kids
Silk sheets and scented candles aren't going to help create a private space if you've got people barging in all the time. And the worst offenders are usually children. In fact, caregiving is stated as the primary barrier to privacy. While it's not practical (nor fair) to make the bathroom a no-go zone, you can limit how much access your children get to your bedroom. You can make a rule that they're not allowed to bring their toys in, for example, so it stays relatively mess-free. You can also start a conversation about privacy and remind them that if your bedroom door is shut, they should refrain from disturbing you.
Taking these small steps to carve out your own space, you're bound to feel the benefits and be ready to face the troops all over again.