ALONE VS LONELY: HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT KIND OF SOLO TIME
While “being busy” was once a badge of honor (and still is, in some circles), many are starting to push back against that way of thinking. Now, we read more and more about the importance of getting enough sleep and taking real vacations. But something else that’s equally a part of self-care is spending time alone.
Lots of people feel guilty about spending time alone, worry they’ll get bored, or just don’t like their own company. But the truth is that everyone can benefit from some time alone. It provides us with a chance to rest, reflect, and plan. It helps us get to know ourselves better. It’s even been shown to improve concentration, spark productivity, and reduce stress.
If you live by yourself or work from home, maybe finding solitude isn’t an issue. But if you have a family, work in a hectic environment, or maintain a busy social calendar, you’re probably more likely to feel that you never get any time to yourself. If that sounds like you, use these tips to start spending more time in solitude.
Commit to time alone in your schedule.
If you struggle to find time to spend alone, you may need to consider making some changes to your schedule. Maybe that means getting up before everyone else or leaving the house to take a solo walk. It might require coordinating schedules with your partner or saying “no” to new commitments. Once you figure out how to fit some alone time into your day, pencil it into your schedule. Then, treat it just like you would any other meeting or appointment.
Make your solo time meaningful.
Many of us tend to spend our time alone in ways that are less than ideal. We lounge in front of the TV, indulge in junk food, or mindlessly surf the Internet. We end up feeling worse than before, and start to equate being alone with wasting time. But using your time alone in a way that’s meaningful will prevent that feeling. Better yet, plan ahead for how to spend this time so you don’t slip into an Instagram trance by habit.
Use it to do things you enjoy.
Another surefire way to turn yourself off from spending time alone? Force yourself to spend it doing something you don’t like. You might think that, say, journaling or cooking sounds like a meaningful use of time. But if you hate writing and can’t stand being in the kitchen, you’ll just end up resenting it. So think about things you really love doing, and put your time toward them instead.
Make sure you’re not spending TOO much time alone.
While solitude is crucial to well-being, there’s definitely such a thing as too much of it. In excess, isolation can lead to loneliness and depression, and it’ll largely negate the potential benefits of alone time.
So if you feel like you don’t get enough contact with others, make plans to meet up with a friend, sign up for a class, or look for other reasons to get out of the house. Then, when you do spend time alone, you’ll be able to relish it and reap the benefits.
About the Author
Jen is a freelance writer, blogger, and yoga teacher who left her office job in Boston to travel the world with her husband. She previously worked in international development and academic research, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda. Some of her biggest passions include promoting responsible and mindful travel and helping her students develop their personal yoga practice.