How often do you get time to simply be with yourself? If the answer to that question is not often, you may consider penciling in some alone time. Why? According to a recent article published by The Atlantic, spending time alone, when pursued by choice, can offer therapeutic benefits – especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed. In today’s culture of go, go, go and do, do, do, feeling that you have a too-full plate is often the norm. In addition to these simple self care tips, spending time alone can help separate from today’s fast-paced world.
“When people are experiencing crisis it’s not always just about you: It’s about how you are in society,” explains Jack Fong, a sociologist at California State Polytechnic University who has studied solitude to The Atlantic. “When people take these moments to explore their solitude, not only will they be forced to confront who they are, they just might learn a little bit about how to out-maneuver some of the toxicity that surrounds them in a social setting.”
This kind of solitude is different than hanging out on the beach with a book or catching up on your favorite Netflix series. It’s about “productive solitude” i.e. creating space for internal exploration. Rather than distracting yourself from being alone, you’re 100 percent with yourself and your thoughts. If hanging out with just you, yourself and you sounds excruciating that may be a good indicator that it’s just what the doctor ordered.
“Solitude can be restorative,” the article continues. “For Fong, who meditates 15 minutes a day and takes monthly solo camping trips, it is at least as essential as exercise or healthy eating. Possibly, he says, it is necessary for a truly healthy mind. ‘It really lifts you out of problems,’ he says. ‘It really, really has a powerful function for making you understand your predicament in this universe.’”
There are plenty of ideas about how to spend time alone. But what kind of solitude is right for you? That depends on what best takes you out of the hubbub of daily life. For some people, listening to music is an excellent way to touch into one’s inner landscape. For others, a walk in the woods or a few minutes of meditation is what is needed. It’s really personal. It’s also up to you to determine how much time you need. “Because the study of solitude as a positive force is new, it’s hard to speak in precise scientific terms about it: We don’t know what the ideal amount is, for instance, or even if there is one. Most likely, such measures are different for everybody,” the Atlantic states.
For those wary of inviting in alone time, starting with just a short walk or a few minutes of meditation may be challenging enough. For others, a solo camping trip or hour of meditation may sound like heaven. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, one thing is clear: In today’s hyper-connected world, carving out alone time is helpful wherever you can get it.