Carving out a little solitude can make a world of difference. Here are some great reasons to spend more time alone. Go ahead—give yourself a break.
Photo credit Kuroda Studios
I consider myself a pretty social person, but I also absolutely need my “caroline” time – those periodic moments away from the world. After a business trip, a joint vacation with family or friends, the chaos of the holidays, or a week of events, I hit my threshold – beyond which I slip into an irritable, stressed version of myself. This is why I balance my extroverted life by having quality ME time. I think it’s extremely important and very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person or thing. After spending some quality time with myself, I’m as good as new. A bit of regular solitude helps me continue to be the positive woman I aspire to be.
Solitude is the soul’s holiday, an opportunity to stop doing for others and to surprise and delight ourselves instead. We need to have some downtime, but often it’s a challenge to let ourselves slow down. As Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul, says, “We seem to have a complex about busyness in our culture. Most of us do have time in our days that we could devote to simple relaxation, but we convince ourselves that we don’t.” It seems there is always something that needs doing, always someone who needs our attention. “Unfortunately,” Moore says, “we don’t get a lot of support in this culture for doing nothing. If we aren’t accomplishing something, we feel that we’re wasting time.
Many of us feel compelled to measure our success in terms of acquisition and accomplishment. But even those who don’t buy into such a narrow definition of success may feel uncomfortable with the idea of claiming time just for themselves, with no agenda whatsoever. Often when we find ourselves with an empty hour, we spend that time doing chores or attending to our relationships or Facebook scrolling.
If no one’s around, we’ll reach for the phone—or the TV remote or even the vacuum cleaner. We avoid ourselves because we’re afraid of what we might find or fear missing out on life’s party (also known as F.O.M.O. , aka the “Fear of Missing Out.”). But solitude and isolation do not go hand in hand. We can retreat from the world for a time without being renounced by it. Heres a few of the benefits you get from spending time with yourself:
Health Benefits of Spending Time Alone
1. Alone time allows you to reboot your brain and rejuvenate. Constantly being “on” doesn’t give your brain a chance to rest and replenish itself. Getting away from others allows you to decompress and relax. It gives you a break from the “have tos” and allows you to focus on the “want tos.” It lets you address your own needs as opposed to everyone else’s and gives you the opportunity to rejuvenate and push the restart button.
2. Alone time gives you a higher sense of independence and increased self-esteem. Being alone and getting comfortable with being alone gives you a higher sense of independence. Relying on yourself to make choices and decisions increases your self confidence, which then permeates other aspects of your life, including the times you are in the presence of others.
3. Alone time allows for self discovery. Spending time alone gives you the ability to discover things about yourself and to get a real understanding of who you are. We have grown to appreciate the art of getting to know others, but in reality, it is even more important to get to know ourselves, our preferences, and our likes and dislikes, without other people’s influences.
4. Alone time gives you a fresh perspective. Time alone gives you the opportunity to clear your mind and weed through a lot of thoughts. This allows you to get to the heart of what YOU really think as opposed to being told or influenced by others and their opinions. It gives you time to reflect on what is important in your life and how you feel about everyday situations that need to be addressed.
5. Alone time can enhance the quality of your relationships with others. By spending time with yourself and gaining a better understanding of who you are and what you desire in life, you’re more likely to make better choices about who and what you want to be around. You also may come to appreciate your relationships more after you’ve spent some time alone.
Despite knowing these benefits, it can be a challenge to find time alone in a world that seems to never sleep. Here are a few suggestions to help you find more time to spend with yourself.
How to Spend More Time Alone
- Be OK with spending time with yourself for yourself. This gets easier with practice, so if you are new to the idea give it some time first.
- MAKE time for yourself and schedule it. Make a date night just with YOU. I have what I call “non-negotiable self care nights”. These are planned weekly and I commit to spending time with myself for myself (its non-negotiable!). If you dont make time you wont ever have time. Work to create a habit of planning YOU time week to week.
- Stand firm in your commitment. If you make a commitment to spend time with yourself KEEP it! Dont ask people to join you for your solo walk or journal date (two people doesn’t count as alone time sorry).
- Learn to say NO. You don’t “have to” attend every party, event, or gathering. And actually, its better if you are more exclusive with how you choose to spend your time. The “fear of missing out” often drives us to over-extend ourselves and attend every social opportunity on the calendar. But that only leads to what I call, “social jetlag” the burnout from comes from too much running around and the need for quality downtime. Next time you are asked to attend an event, say “Let me check my schedule and get back to you.” This allows you time to decide what you need more: going out or time for yourself.
- Be clear about your needs. “I need some time for myself” sounds both desperate and vague. Be clear and practical: “On Saturday afternoon, I will be gone from two o’clock to five o’clock. Will you be able to watch the kids?” or “I’ve got plans on Friday night for myself, can we get together another time during the week?”
- Disconnect. You can’t spend time with yourself if you are too plugged in to everything else. Choose a time in the day and switch off your internet, mobile and any tool that makes you reachable to the world for at least 30 minutes. Turn off your cell phone, Turn off your Internet. Turn off your TV. UNPLUG from the world and PLUG into you. This is really hard habit to create at first especially if your iphone has become attached to your hand. But you’ll be amazed at how much more you can relax, focus, and destress when you’re not plugged into tech.
- Get Up or Get it In Early. That’s probably the ideal way to find and spend some time alone. When you wake up before the rest of the world, you’ll spend the most peaceful time ever. Waking up at dawn and watching the sunrise is a pleasurable experience. It will allow you to spend the rest of the day with a totally different mode, rather than waking up late rushing to work and getting stuck & frustrated in a traffic jam. When you experience the peace of the early morning, you’ll get addicted to it. Some of the activities that you can do to enjoy spending time alone in the morning include: writing, learn something new, reading, watching a movie, meditating, exercising, walking, breathing the fresh morning air, playing games, thinking & reflecting or listening to music.
If you and your inner self have been out of touch, build a new relationship with someone who deserves attention—you. Here are a few great ideas to get you started:
- Exercise solo. Go for a walk, run, swim, bike ride. You can even leave the headphones at home and spend time listening to your thoughts and the world.
- Journal. I spend a lot of time journaling and love to use my journal time for reflection, goal setting, and creating positive intentions for my life.
- Meditate. It doesnt have to be long. Sit still with yourself. Watch your thoughts. No judgement. Im a huge fan of the app “Headspace” which guides you through daily 10 minute meditations. Easy to use and accesible anywhere. Plus the meditation guide has a soothing British accent (totally awesome.)
- Take yourself on a date. Dinner, a movie, a museum. Embrace being out with yourself ALONE.
- Get lost. Go for a walk, hike, or drive somewhere you’ve never been before. Explore.
- Get Crafty. Paint, create, make a vision board…. there are so many ways to get crafty and express yourself while making something cool. I recently went to an event at MakeShop by Brit & Co that gave me many unique ideas on different creative projects for self-expression!
Photo credit Kuroda Studios
Solitude is a kind of vacation. We live in a demanding world, and we demand much of ourselves. But the harder we push, the more we also need time to replenish ourselves. In solitude we discover what makes us feel alive. We can use our time alone to rest, in a complete and profound way, or we can engage in an activity that brings us joy. What a pleasure it is to dive into a project with no distractions, or to pursue our passions at full tilt.
In the end, it is important to remember that spending time alone doesn’t mean that you isolate yourself all the time. We need people and social connections are an extremely important componet of happiness. Its just about finding the balance between being accessible to others and being accessible to yourself. Spending time alone is a way to stop, re-connect, re-evaluate, and live your life on purpose. Alone time allows you to live the healthy, happy life you want with others.
Inspirational quotes about solitude that will inspire you to find and spend time alone TODAY
- “I restore myself when I’m alone.” – Marilyn Monroe
- “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” – Wayne Dyer
- “In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself.” – Laurence Sterne
- “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” – Blaise Pascal
- “I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least – and it is commonly more than that – sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” – Henry David Thoreau
- “We live in a very tense society. We are pulled apart… and we all need to learn how to pull ourselves together…. I think that at least part of the answer lies in solitude.” – Helen Hayes
- “It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts.” – K.T. Jong
- “Only in quiet waters do thing mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world” – Hans Margolius
- “When we cannot bear to be alone, it means we do not properly value the only companion we will have from birth to death – ourselves.” – Eda LeShan
- “I’m not anti-social. I’m pro-solitude.” – Author Unknown
- “The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude.” – Voltaire
- “True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” – William Penn
- “Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.” – Harold Bloom
- “We visit others as a matter of social obligation. How long has it been since we have visited with ourselves?” – Morris Adle
Do you like to spend time alone? What is your favorite way to spend quality time with yourself? Leave your thoughts as a comment below.
Take yourself out on a date, you deserve it.
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