Loneliness is one of humanity’s greatest fears. Even if you have a more introverted personality, everyone craves attention, love, and companionship with other citizens of this remarkable planet. Sometimes a like, follow, or comment on social media can fill that void, but other times, the weight of being alone can become tiresome. Society loves to perpetuate the idea that you always have to be talking to friends, in a romantic relationship with someone, or “hanging out” in order to have a fulfilled life, which only contributes to the problem. Contrary to this widespread belief, however, evidence suggests that spending time alone every once in a while is actually really good for you.
You need time to develop your own opinions
When you are always around other people, facets of their personalities inevitably start to rub off on you. Whether you notice it or not, you begin to look more and more like the people you choose to spend your time with. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is important to take time for yourself to develop your own opinions and beliefs separate from your friend group. This is especially important when you’re young, since you develop many personality traits in your 20s that stick with you your entire life.
Solitude allows you to recognize your own value
If you need approval and validation from others to be happy and fulfilled, you are setting yourself up for failure. Though it’s hard to face, friendships will often end, relationships will fizzle out, and there are times when you will be left standing on your own. Carve out time for yourself while you have a vibrant social network and learn to cultivate your sense of self-worth.
You’ll become more independent
Yes, it’s okay to go to the movies by yourself or eat lunch in a quiet area away from the bustle of the breakroom. The more time you spend doing activities by yourself, the more you will begin to enjoy the peace and mental break that comes from not having to worry about socializing or keeping others entertained.
You will begin to appreciate your relationships
It is easy to take the people in your life for granted when they are always there. Spending a Friday night watching movies by yourself or taking an hour every day for uninterrupted “me time” (no phone allowed) will help you begin to appreciate the support system you have in your life. And you may realize certain behaviors of ungratefulness or toxic patterns of gossip that need to stop.
Being alone sparks creativity
In this technology-driven, 24/7 connected world, it can be hard to find a moment of peace to help spark your creativity. Instead of battling against the unceasing flow of stimuli for inspiration, get outside for a walk by yourself, and allow your mind to wander. You’ll be amazed by the creative solutions and ideas that seem to come out of nowhere. Of course, they didn’t come out of nowhere; you simply quieted your mind enough to listen.
Your productivity will skyrocket
While study groups, open office plans, and think tanks are all great ideas, sometimes the best solution for unproductivity is alone time. Either you will be bored enough to stop procrastinating and get projects accomplished, or you will be able to focus without frequent interruption.
How to create an environment of solitude
Just because a little alone time is healthy, doesn’t mean you have to cut off all social media and move to a cabin in the wilds of Alaska. In fact, socializing is just as important and healthy as solitude. The crucial thing is figuring out the balance and cultivating an environment where you feel comfortable being alone. Start by placing your phone in another room and spending at last 10 minutes each day with your thoughts. You can turn this alone time into a 30-minute walk to make it even more beneficial. Leave your phone at home, don’t listen to music, simply stroll (or sit outside on a park bench somewhere) and let your mind catch up and process all of the events and information of the day so far.
How do you carve out alone time? Let us know in the comments below!