Kitchen Anxiety: Why You Hate Running Into Your Roommates In Your Own House

With living costs on the rise, shared accommodations are the way to go if you're living on your own in a big city and looking to cut down on expenses. Not only does co-living help you save lots of money on rental, furniture, and household appliances, but also offers a greater sense of safety and an opportunity to make new friends. However, life in a shared space isn't always a bed of roses. This form of living has numerous drawbacks, such as a lack of privacy and limited control over shared resources. 

For instance, it's nearly impossible to enjoy a nice dinner or breakfast in solitude in the dining area. For introverts, having to say "hi" every time they enter the communal space is like a recurring nightmare. That's probably why many shared space residents are victims of kitchen anxiety, which is a feeling of apprehension that you experience every time you bump into your housemates in the kitchen. Your anxiety can be such that you even delay going out of your room to dine in the kitchen (even when you're starving) just because your housemates are still there and you just can't bear cooking therapy with them watching. Kitchen anxiety is not a clinical condition, but it's pretty prevalent. On TikTok, content related to #kitchenanxiety has garnered over 30 billion views at the time of writing. If that strikes a chord with you, here are more insights about this condition and what you can do about it. 

How to deal with kitchen anxiety

It's perfectly normal to feel out of your element when cooking and eating in a communal space, with people walking around, observing you, and making comments. But if there's some tension between you and your housemates, if you're an anxious person by nature or you've had a traumatic experience living in a shared space, kitchen anxiety is more likely to happen, per psychotherapist Samantha Nusom (via Bustle). Having kitchen anxiety makes it more difficult to relax and enjoy the comfort of your home.

It's completely fine to hold off on going into the kitchen if you simply want to avoid initiating a conversation. Everyone can use some alone time in the kitchen, cooking their favorite meal and taking selfies with their food without having to worry about other people's reactions. Nonetheless, if your anxiety prompts you to hide in your room all the time, you need to talk to your housemates, Nusom suggests. 

Being open about your anxiety makes you feel loads better and encourages your housemates to be more considerate when you're in the house. Maybe you all can work out arrangements to allow everyone individual time in the kitchen at certain hours of the day. Additionally, talking about your emotional challenges also reassures your housemates that your desire to be alone in the kitchen has nothing to do with your feelings for them. If your housemates are the more sensitive type, they might take your avoidance of the communal space personally. 

Other tips to overcome shared accommodation dilemmas

Whether you have kitchen anxiety or not, being neighborly and getting to know your housemates is the key to living amicably under the same roof. But that doesn't mean you have to be Miss Congeniality all the time. When you don't feel like joining others in fun activities around the house, just tell them you're spent from work and you want to have some time for yourself.

If you have any specific conditions that could affect your life in a shared space — such as mysophobia or kitchen anxiety — let your housemates know right from the beginning. Co-living is all about co-existing with strangers with different personalities and lifestyles. And the only way for everyone to avoid awkward situations and conflicts is to be fully informed and on the same page about one another's living habits soon after moving in. Some examples of ground rules to discuss include when you can have visitors or what you can or cannot use in the communal spaces. 

It's a good idea to have a house meeting every month so everyone can voice their concerns, revise house rules, and come up with solutions together. It's common for disagreements to emerge when you live with different personalities. Maybe there's someone who never fulfills their trash duties, or someone who is always bringing their friends over without asking for permission. You can bring the matter up with the person, but do it in a calm and civil way.