Do you ever end up talking to yourself alone as you read passages from different books?
Immersing yourself in your imagination as you get lost in the music you’re listening to?
Perhaps, you’ve also experienced being that person in the background – just watching other people talk and laugh with each other, which would sometimes make you feel a bit cold inside out. Being alone may come across as a curse or torture for some, but for others, being alone might be a haven.
So, how do you spend some time alone? Or do you spend time alone?
Why it’s hard to spend time alone
Spending some time alone could be a scary idea to people. There is a historical reason for it. Solitude used to be imposed as a punishment.
Humans – social creatures par excellence – are wired to believe that all our rewards would only come from interaction with other people. Because of this, we often dismiss the fact that solitude can also be beneficial for us.
Another reason why people find it hard to spend time alone is that they often make their solitary experience about other people instead of themselves. They get wrapped up in the thought that they are being watched and that other people might be judging their actions.
Therefore, they tend to just withdraw from doing the things that would otherwise bring them joy out of fear that they might just end up embarrassing themselves.
The fear of missing out, famously known as FOMO, is also why the idea of solitude is often rejected. FOMO is the tendency of someone to feel like other people are experiencing better things than they do. It’s the perception that the people around you are having more fun or are living better lives than you do. Needless to say, this phenomenon has been exacerbated by social media.
Being alone vs. Loneliness
Despite all the research pointing out the adverse psychological effects of seclusion and social isolation, there has also been a growing body of information conveying the importance of regularly spending time alone. Some of these studies show that specific tasks are better done alone, without the distractions, views, or effects of others.
However, these preferences for solitude are highly influenced by your personality. For example, introverts would be more likely to prefer being alone, while extroverts prefer company. However, extroverts can still enjoy some time for themselves every now and then.
Solitude is not bad, and we must understand its two sides. Being alone and lonely are entirely different things. The former is a choice, the other a circumstance. Loneliness means being secluded or isolated, and being alone means choosing to spend time with oneself.
Why Time Alone is Good For You
When we refuse or forget to spend time with ourselves, we become vulnerable to burnout. If we don’t have time alone, we won’t have the opportunity to digest all the emotions and thoughts. There’s no inner space at all to process anything, and our nervous system takes a toll.
Spending time in voluntary solitude would help you maintain your wellbeing because it lets your system just ‘be’ without having to ‘do’ something.
In our daily life, we are constantly being influenced by others. This may lead us to neglect our own truth and authenticity.
By spending time alone, you get to know yourself on a deeper, more meaningful level. You become more present and aware of yourself in many aspects. Reflecting on your life, actions, and present values is necessary for maintaining healthy relationships with people. It helps us know what we need, wants, and value, thus forming our guiding principles in life.
How to be Alone
- Plan it out. It is important to remember that time alone should be done by choice, and it shouldn’t be forced, which is why the best first step for you is to set aside time to be by yourself. It can be around a certain time every morning/evening, several times a week, or for the whole weekend – whichever works best for you!
- Eliminate distractions. Start by removing things that might pull you out of your solitude, such as your phone and laptop. Let yourself focus on the things that you don’t usually do on your own. You might find it hard initially, but you may learn to enjoy it with practice.
- Appreciate and Value solitude. Always remember the reason and benefits of your “me time.” In this ever-connected, fast-paced world, it’s important that we remember to check up on our well-being. Doing less and learning to simply ‘Be’ is a skill that can be developed in solitude.
10 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Time Alone
- Take a break from your phone. Social media’s algorithm is designed to keep you scrolling for hours and hours. Even if you think the content you consume is ’useful’, it’s still a distraction that keeps you from being mindful in your time alone. Taking a break in social media every once in a while does not make your friends go away, so don’t be afraid to turn off your notifications to avoid interruptions. Tune in to the real you, and let yourself observe your thoughts and emotions.
- Find a personal space. Personal spaces to spend your “me time” in is important. These spaces can be a library, a coffee shop, somewhere in nature, or even just your own bedroom. Find a place where you feel you can comfortably be or do the things you plan on doing.
- Write a journal. Writing down your thoughts is an excellent way of talking and connecting with yourself. It allows you to reflect on your life and helps you examine specific aspects of yourself that you wish to explore or improve. However, journaling can also be your tool for planning and organizing your week. For example, Bu-Jo or bullet journalizing is a popular and creative way of organizing.
- Be productive. Spending time alone doesn’t always mean that you have to do something new. You can check up on the things that you’ve been putting off, such as your laundry or your dishes. Tidying up your home or, perhaps, completely changing its interior arrangement can also be an option.
- …Or do nothing at all. Perhaps you’ve been dealing with overwhelming stimulations from your environment, and you would rather just spend your alone time lying in your bed while staring at the ceiling. That’s okay too.
- Or you would rather just spend it resting. Letting yourself breathe, rest, and be present with what your physical body demands is a great way of spending your “me time.” Let yourself recharge.
- Do something physical. Jogging, dancing, working out are all great activities in your alone time. Training your body can sometimes build resilience for the brain.
- Take long walks. It doesn’t have to be something that’s physically exhausting. Taking a stroll in the park and absorbing the ambiance set by nature, coupled with the distant sound of other people, is also a great way of spending your alone time. Immersing yourself with the present moment makes you more aware of your internal and external stimuli.
- Embrace the quietness. Embrace the stillness, not just of your surroundings but also the one in your being. Contemplate the things about you, your interests, or maybe just your life in general. Ask yourself questions, and let yourself be curious about yourself.
- Find contentment in solitude. Remember that you, as a person, need to have a deep connection with yourself first. You have your own identity, preferences, beliefs, values, etc. By finding contentment within the time spent with yourself, you’ll find joy and peace in knowing and developing the person that you are.
Solitary experience sometimes could be seen in a bad light. Ironically, it is actually what would help us become better social beings. The time we spend with ourselves, when done right, helps us to know ourselves more and lets us listen to what we need to become a better person.
Now that you’ve learned the essence of solitude, the difference between being alone and loneliness, and the things you can do to maximize the time you will spend with just the company of yourself, maybe it’s time for you to start planning out your me-time.
Starting it can be intimidating. If you think that you are still lost on how you can spend time alone, you can start with this guided meditation from New York Life Coaching.
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