People equate being alone with loneliness but adding alone time to your self care routine can also be a great way to focus yourself, to relax, and to figure out what you want when you’re not distracted by others around you. Don’t get me wrong, I love being social, but I also place a lot of value on the time I spend on my own because it gives me a chance for some quiet and a space to clear my thoughts.
We tend to have this negative view of time spent alone and often we are never truly disconnected because of social media, but more than ever the population is alone with numbers of single Americans and of those that live alone increasing significantly in the past 30 years. But studies show across the board that there are significant benefits to isolation.
Making more time for “me time” is a great idea because:
1. You will be more creative
Your brain has the chance to wander, to explore ideas and think through problems without distraction. Research has shown that people think of their best ideas alone, rather than in groups. I mean there has to be some logic to the trope of artists retreating into the woods or into a studio to work. Tapping into your creative unconscious can be incredibly rewarding and allow you to think of new perspectives, gain new insights, and solve problems more effectively.
…there has to be some logic to the trope of artists retreating into the woods or into a studio to work.
2. You will work harder
Many studies have shown that privacy, away from the distractions of others, helps people to perform better. You can focus more intensely and you can learn to prioritize the tasks you need to get done. I find that even a combination of distractions and procrastination can be overcome when I get into a good place of self-motivation.
3. You can meet new people
When you choose to do activities on your own, you get the chance to meet some great new people. Whether it’s dining alone, attending a class to learn new skills, or seeing a movie or play on your own, you give yourself the chance to appreciate the experience more and open yourself up to meeting new people who are doing the same.
It can be hard to find people to tag along to everything with you and I will often try classes throughout NYC on my own, which I love. I spent one summer taking surfing lessons every week, another trying salsa dancing, and I will sometimes go to a nice restaurant for lunch alone just because I can, and each time I’ve met so many wonderful people on those adventures.
4. You have the chance to clear your mind
Some brains need more continuous stimulation than others, but all brains need time to rest and recharge in order to function optimally. When your self care routine includes a time for this rest, you give your brain a chance to step back from the intense amounts of information being thrown at us any given second and from the exhausting demands of being around other people.
5. You get to do what you want to do
When others are involved there will inevitably be compromises in each decision. But when it is just you, you get the chance to ask yourself what do you really want to do? I experience this a lot when I travel solo and I love the realization when planning a new day that I can do whatever I want. I don’t have to run it by anyone, I don’t have to make sure another person is interested also–you can learn so much about yourself when you are not trying to please anyone else but you.
— you can learn so much about yourself when you are not trying to please anyone else but you.
6. You can help alleviate stress and depression
Including solitude in a self care routine has been shown to significantly lower stress and depression. For all of the reasons listed here and more, when you can find a comfort in solitude, you will be less prone to letting things overwhelm you and you can really explore why you are stressed or depressed more thoroughly away from the world.
7. You will improve your relationships
When we don’t have the ability to be alone, we turn to others to feel less anxious or to facilitate our happiness, but this places an unrealistic expectation onto others and we cannot fully appreciate them for who they are. It may seem counterintuitive to spend time alone to benefit your time spent with others, but it’s true. I have found that the more comfortable I am with myself, the more I can remove myself from a sort of desperate reliance on others and in turn find my relationships more well rounded.
Being alone is self-strengthening. You become more comfortable in your own skin and develop… ‘the capacity to be alone.’
8. Solitude is the key to happiness
Being alone is self-strengthening. You become more comfortable in your own skin and develop, as psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott calls it, “the capacity to be alone.” You know that you do not have to rely on the group, you will be okay on your own, and you will be less likely to feel lonely when alone. So when possible, it is important to add alone time to your self care routine, because at the end of the day you are your own number one priority.
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