Everyone needs some quiet time alone to really get to know themselves. And, if you don’t believe that, consider this. If you can’t enjoy your own company, how can you expect others to? The only way to learn to love yourself is not through the eyes of others but through your own eyes. When you lose touch with yourself as a unique and separate living being, then loneliness is sure to follow. Experts agree, a little chosen solitude improves not only your perspective on life but also your social relationships. Here’s what else research says about getting some alone time.
A little solitude improves your social life
Some people believe that if they spend time alone, they’ll be perceived as being unlikable and having few friends. But in reality, research shows that enjoying a little solitude doesn’t actually hurt your social life, but in fact, adds to it. Getting some alone time not only makes you calmer but also helps regulate your emotions, which better prepares you to socialize with others, suggests Thuy-vy Nguyen, assistant professor in the department of psychology at Durham University, for the New York Times.
Alone time makes you more empathetic
Spending all of your free time with the same social circle can sometimes turn you and your friends into the “mean girls — or boys.” On the other hand, enjoying a little solitude now and again allows you to drown out the negative chatter and replace it with your own unique and independent thoughts. In turn, you’ll develop more compassion for those who don’t fit into your circle of friends suggests Amy Morin, Mental Health Trainer for Forbes.
Solitude is good for mental health
In today’s world, depression is commonplace and a growing issue among males and females of all ages. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 264 million people from all walks of life around the world suffer from depression. Depression, WHO says, is the result of social, psychological, and biological influences. At one time, solitude and social isolation was thought to be a telltale sign of depression, but a recent study from the University of California reveals that this may not always be the case.
The study found that learning to be alone was not only a good life skill to have but also refreshing and restorative for mental wellbeing. Research also shows that those who set aside alone time tend to be happier, less depressed, more satisfied with life, and experience lower levels of stress. In fact, people who choose to spend a lot of time alone tend to experience more self and creative expression as well as spiritual renewal.
Chosen solitude gives you to a greater sense of awareness
No one really knows you like you know yourself. The problem is, in this world of constant noise and chatter, it’s hard to hear yourself think. That little voice inside your head can easily be drowned out by day to day living. Being alone with your thoughts can help you be more comfortable in your own skin. You can learn to make choices without any outside influences. In turn, you’ll develop more insight as to who you are and who you want to be.
There’s a big difference between being lonely and being alone
Solitude often gets a bad rap, since being alone often equates to loneliness. Additionally, many studies conclude that loneliness increases your risk of depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and even early death. But there’s a big difference between being lonely and being alone.
- Loneliness is defined as “being without company” or “being cut off from others.”
- Chosen solitude, in contrast to loneliness, is a positive state that leads to a greater sense of awareness, suggests research.
There’s no denying that a strong social support system is vital during tough times, especially when experiencing a loss or illness. One early study found that people who cultivate a good social circle of friends and family have a greater resistance to upper respiratory illness. But, when solitude is voluntary, you can still maintain your positive relationships and return to friends and family when you wish. Taking occasional alone time may even help you appreciate those positive connections with family and friends even more. Remember, there are some great benefits to occasionally choosing to be alone. The most crucial benefit being: listening to your inner voice and nourishing your own self-development.
Find the time to be alone
Finding a little time to be alone doesn’t necessarily mean taking a two-week vacation from your family and friends. Just setting aside 10 to 15 minutes a day could be enough to revitalize your spirit. Whether you find a quiet place for a little mindfulness meditation to relieve stress and anxiety, or you set aside some time to complete an activity that you enjoy, a little chosen solitude can enrich your life in so many ways. So, go on, take a little “me” time, and really get to know yourself.
-The UpWellness Team