As many of us already know, spending time alone doesn’t equate to being lonely. Alone time can be a gift…an opportunity to get to know ourselves better, a chance to improve our mental health, and engage in the things we enjoy without worrying about anyone else. Whether you’re wishing for more time alone or less these days, solitude is something you can learn to appreciate. Here are some ways to reap the benefits of having time on your own.
Learn how to appreciate silence.
It can be as simple as turning off the electronics to start with. Find a comfortable spot, grab your favorite beverage, and get comfortable in an environment without ringtones and buzzing just for a while. While social media may seem like a chance to connect with others, it has been shown to cause stronger feelings of loneliness.
Start a journal to get your thoughts and emotions out.
A daily journal can help you interpret what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling. Through this you can work to identify and manage any stress you may be feeling. Just a few sentences each day about what you’re doing or how you’re feeling can help you stay on track.
Develop a relationship with yourself.
Alone time gives you the chance to nurture a relationship with yourself. This may not be easy at first…especially if you are someone who loves being with other people. Being alone may cause feelings to come up that were easy to push aside when you were distracted by other people. But this can be the beginning of a breakthrough and a time to really find out the specialness of YOU. What are your likes and dislikes? What do you value in life? What makes you happy and what makes you sad?
Learn something new.
Take this time to absorb and learn new information or practice a skill while you’re alone. Listen to a podcast you’ve been curious about. Start learning another language. Read a book about a topic that has always interested you or take a class. Come up with something that can expand your knowledge while you have the time to devote your full attention to it.
Spend time in nature.
Go on a long walk, read in a park, or just sit outside. A 2019 study found people who spent at least two hours in nature over a week’s time were much more likely to report greater well-being and good health than those who spent no time outside.
While the idea of meditating may sound daunting, the actual practice is open to anyone. You can try meditating solo or with the help of meditation apps or YouTube videos. You will need to sit in a relaxed and comfortable position, focus on taking deep, slow breaths, and stay conscious of each breath you take to quiet your mind. Meditating can help you find balance in your mind and body so that you might be able to accomplish things you need to do more efficiently.
When we think about solitude, it’s important to see being alone as a choice, not a punishment. Recent research shows that we benefit more from alone time as we age and have more control over our time. Spending time alone doesn’t have to be a lonely experience. Instead, it can be a time of happiness and of improved understanding of who we are. Additionally, solitude can be quite beneficial for your mental health, creativity, and productivity.