Dear Charlotte,

I love your column. It’s so good and I look forward to it each week. I want to know if you have thoughts about how I can breathe in this time period of working from home. I hate it! I’m so claustrophobic anyway and I have no privacy. Everything frustrates me and crowds me and I feel like I’m taking things more personally than ever. Could therapy help with this?

Dear Crowded,

The space struggle is so real. We need space from others with social distancing, and then feel completely enmeshed and suffocated by the people in our living space. Too much space and not enough! And the enmeshment doesn’t stop with people – working from home requires many of us to work, live, and socialise in the same space. It’s psychologically crowding as well as literally. My very strong suggestion is that you begin to cultivate some calm solitude, however and wherever possible. This might mean purposefully, intentionally enjoying a ten minute brisk walk alone, smelling something lovely, taking a hot shower, sipping a cup of tea, or reading a couple pages of a book. We must insist on moments of serenity, however scarce.

We can advocate for inner serenity by choosing how we relate to others at moments. There are times when we want to be porous and times when we can decide to differentiate ourselves from someone we are dealing with. Have a look at this diagram and see if you can spot how you relate to others, and where your sense of self gets swallowed up and absorbed by others. See if it’s possible to make some adjustments at those moments of frustration.

Therapy can definitely help with the issues you’ve mentioned. Privacy is essential for the process, so you might want therapy that’s set up safely for face to face sessions, or you can have remote sessions, depending on what’s possible. You can find a therapist here. And in the meantime, hold onto your self-awareness that you’re taking things extra personally. So many of us are, and you’re so insightful to recognise the link between space and feelings.


Do you have a question for Charlotte? Send it to [email protected] with Dear Therapist in the subject line

Further reading

Your psychological coronavirus survival kit

How our relationship boundaries define us

Grounding exercise to regulate anxiety during the Covid pandemic

How to be assertive and set healthy boundaries

What has the Covid crisis taught us about home and identity?