As we put these restrictions behind us–hopefully for good this time—it may be time to reevaluate the balance of time alone and time spent with others. While it’s wonderful to maintain connections with the people we care about – whether in person or virtually – it’s vital to learn to grow from time alone.
Spending high-quality time alone is a key component of mental health, allowing us to boost self-confidence, grow skills, and rediscover ourselves. As with other areas of mental health, there’s no need to go it alone. Check out our list of the Best Online Therapy Services if you’d like to be connected to a therapist who fits your needs.
Here are the top 10 ways that spending time alone can improve your mental health.
1. It allows you to practice self-discovery
Spending time alone gives you the freedom to explore your own needs and interests, without worrying about pleasing others, or facing their judgments or expectations. When you spend time alone, you answer to no one else: you can take your time and do everything at your own pace, in your own way. If you follow your own lead, you may discover a new hobby or skill, which is great for building confidence. And of course, knowing yourself better is a key step in being able to work and live better with others.
2. It lets your creativity flow
If you are constantly surrounded by people, much of your energy may be spent serving or pleasing them. If you can separate yourself from other people for a while, you can focus inward and see what comes of it. Creativity comes in many forms: painting, writing, making music, scrapbooking, woodworking, and so many other fun projects. Whether or not you consider yourself a “creative type,” unlocking your creative side can lead to improvements in your work, home life, and overall wellbeing. Creating something just for yourself provides a unique feeling of self-assurance and satisfaction that’s tough to beat.
3. It enables you to recharge those social batteries
This is especially important for introverts, who gain energy by being alone, and may be drained with too much socializing. Extroverts might not need as much time alone but can still reap the benefits of quality solitude without the need to impress or please others. It can be difficult to achieve a balance if you are in a committed relationship, especially if one partner has a greater need for solitude than the other.
4. It helps you to empower yourself
Without others to direct your actions, influence your decisions, or judge you, you alone are in control. This helps build self-confidence and cut down on negative feelings, thus enhancing your overall mood. You may discover a newfound sense of independence as well, learning that you can stay happy and physically safe without relying on others.
5. It lets you be more productive
We all know it’s easier to get things done without other people around to distract us. Finishing projects – from work projects to creative endeavors, to even “minor” tasks like housework – can lead to improved self-esteem, which is a necessary component of good mental health. And figuring out how to go be productive alone, without needing guidance from others, can be a boost in itself.
6. It teaches you to make healthier choices
When you are not surrounded by other people, you can focus more successfully on your physical health, whether it be by trying new ways to exercise, new healthy recipes to try, or experimenting with meditation. There is a strong connection between physical and mental health, so the time you take to improve your body will pay dividends in other areas of your life as well.
7. It can lower your anxiety levels
If you find yourself becoming anxious, short-tempered, or easily distracted in social situations, it could be a sign that you could benefit from some time alone. All the benefits of solitude – like better creativity and productivity – can help you reset so that you are better able to enjoy the company of others when you get back out there. They employ over 30,000 licensed therapists and can help you find one who matches your needs and preferences.
8. It helps regulate your emotions
Spending time alone, being creative, and learning to be comfortable alone can allow you to process and think without distractions. While it can be a time-consuming process to shift your perspective of alone time, learning to be comfortable alone can help you regulate your own emotions and your responses to events and people. Being alone and in control of your surroundings can give you a healthier perspective on the things that you know you can’t control, like world events or the actions of others. Modulating your emotions will serve you in work and social situations and improve your levels of self-esteem.
9. It improves your self-acceptance
Loving and accepting yourself is a valuable part of developing healthy self-esteem and a positive outlook on life. When you create, explore, and reflect alone, you’ll learn to value the person you are, safe from the judgments of others. This will make you a stronger person, better able to face the challenges that come your way. If you struggle with self-acceptance, speaking with a trained therapist can be a valuable tool. Our list of Best Online Therapy Services can be a great starting point. There are a range of telehealth options available to help you in your path to self-acceptance. Most providers employ licensed therapists with a variety of specialties and the ability to meet via video, telephone, and text messages.
10. It helps you learn to be your own best friend
Finding comfort in the company of others is one of life’s greatest joys. But without other people around, there is no reason to assume that you will be lonely. While loneliness implies a feeling of emptiness, solitude can provide fulfillment through freedom and self-directed actions. If you struggle to be happy alone, you may need to keep practicing and trying different activities. The joy that comes from reflection, creativity, and healthy habits will go a long way to improve your outlook on life.
A fear of missing out, a possible lack of positive experiences while alone, and a social stigma about being alone can contribute to avoiding solitude. Oftentimes we believe the answer to happiness lies in socializing when there is so much to be gained with mindful solitude. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Prioritize time to yourself. Carve out the time you will spend alone, and request that others respect your solitude.
- Shut out distractions and minimize time-wasters. This includes social media!
- Try different activities. Take a walk, read a book, keep a journal, or learn how to cook something new. Follow your intuition!
- Don’t give up. If being alone makes you uncomfortable, keep practicing. It’s a skill, just like any other.
Once you get the hang of it, you may find yourself growing more comfortable in your own company. You may discover talents you never knew you had, and you’ll be able to show off your newfound freedom, creativity, and perspective with your friends and family when you get back out there!