It’s not always fun at first, but it’s worth it.
A lot of contemporary media and societal norms have sold us the idea that we should actively combat being alone. In fact, many people seem to be afraid of it — so much so that some people make friends who aren’t worth having, date people they shouldn’t be dating, and spend their time and money just to run away from the idea of being lonely. However, learning how to spend time with yourself (and only yourself) can be a really positive experience.
Loneliness, of course, is not something to aim for, but being alone doesn’t necessarily mean feeling isolated. In fact, spending more time with ourselves, without being surrounded by people and without virtually surrounding ourselves via social networking platforms, we can find solace in the company that matters most: the relationship we have with ourselves. It’s true that the act of making time for yourself comes more naturally to some people — think introverts versus extroverts — than others. But overall, the majority of people could probably use more time alone, because as it turns out, when you take time for yourself, you’re doing yourself a whole lot of good.
Here are 15 benefits of spending time alone.
In this day and age, we often find ourselves overwhelmed by all we have going on in our lives. It can feel as if we are all running some sort of race with no real finish line, and we forget about the small day-to-day things that can actually be relaxing when we give ourselves time to do them. If you’re really feeling the burnout, this is a sign you should spend some time alone doing the little things that make you happy. "When you notice yourself forgetting simple tasks, not having enough time to do dishes or laundry, or are constantly tired, this is time to take a mental health [or] personal day," life coach Nina Rubin tells Elite Daily. In fact, simple acts like cleaning or organizing have actually been shown to relieve stress.
Meditation can feel like a lofty subject, especially if you don’t know much about it. While there are specific forms of deep meditation you can learn, you can also pick up on what actions feel meditative to you — be it walking around the park, listening to music, riding a skateboard, or tending to your plants. Focusing on your inhales and exhales while you are doing any of these activities is a great way to bring meditative practices into your life. “This simple, daily meditation will support your spiritual body so you can stay grounded and connected to who you really are,” Elle Huerta, CEO and founder of heartbreak recovery app Mend, tells Elite Daily.
Sometimes when we are constantly interacting with others and processing new information, it makes getting a grasp on reality rather tricky. Removing yourself from others’ wants and needs allows you to reacquaint yourself with the way you see the world. Especially if you struggle with prioritizing your own needs, spending time alone can reintroduce you to what you want.
“I would say the number one benefit is that if you have a history of toxic relationships or, in general, you’re seeing a negative pattern in your dating history, being [alone] gives you the chance to reevaluate what’s going on so you’re able to be more intentional moving forward,” Pricilla Martinez, relationship coach and founder of Regroop Coaching, previously told Elite Daily.
By understanding the way you perceive the world, you gain insight into yourself as an individual. You will have more time to consciously roam around in your mind, notice the way you think, and notice the way your thoughts interact with the outside world. Spend more time alone to develop the ability to differentiate yourself from all those outside thoughts flying about in your head. “It’s important to place limitations on how much we’re willing to give of ourselves, and have the discernment to recognize when we’re overstretched and being taken advantage of,” Seline Shenoy, a podcast host, life coach, and author of the book Beauty Redefined, previously told Elite Daily.
If you are overwhelmed by your thoughts and unable to slow them down because they feel like a part of you, you can begin to feel heavy and sluggish. Spending more time on your own will allow you the opportunity to set your mind straight and rid yourself of unnecessary negative thoughts, alleviating your anxiety. In fact, a 2018 study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that solitude led to relaxation and reduced stress when individuals actively chose to be alone. Spending time alone is incredibly important to help yourself slow down, relax, and appreciate all of the work you do in just getting through the day — because that’s a feat in itself.
Often, people don’t like being alone because they feel the need to be social. This is part of human nature. Many people are dependent on others for their happiness and give too much of themselves to social activities because they feel they “need” to. Spending time alone can help detach you from this habit and allow you to be more comfortable with just yourself. “Many of us need more boundaries in our lives. Setting boundaries is critical for self-care, so commit to setting firm boundaries with everyone in your life," Jennifer L. FitzPatrick, a licensed clinical social worker, says. “When we don’t set boundaries, our schedules become unmanageable and we deplete ourselves. This is why healthy boundary-setting is so crucial to good mental health."
Spending time alone isn’t the exact same thing as practicing self-care, but it can certainly lead you to it. An easy way to practice self-care is to designate a specific time of day to being alone and spend it doing something enjoyable. “Treat the scheduled time and give it the same priority as any other appointment on your calendar," naturopathic physician Dr. Pamela Reilly previously suggested to Elite Daily. "Scheduling self-care helps make [it] a regular habit instead of an infrequent occurrence."
Taking the time to slow down and enjoy the little things — the air around you, the chair you are sitting in, the way your tongue feels pressed against your teeth — will bring you greater joy than you ever thought possible. Slowing down and removing yourself from distractions in itself is a form of self-care that can help your overall well-being. "The hope is that we integrate enough self-care, or acts of self-love and appreciation, that we don’t have to ‘make it a thing,’ and we can unapologetically be ourselves," therapist Dr. Julia Colangelo, LCSW, previously told Elite Daily.
Unplugging from the constant stream of information on the internet and social media can be incredibly relieving. When you take time for yourself, you have an uninterrupted moment to reflect on all that you are grateful for, which is a form of self-care on its own. “Whether it’s through writing a daily list, sharing with a loved one, or simply paying attention internally, practicing gratitude contributes to our wellness and to what is good in our lives, which helps greatly during moments of stress or overwhelm," Lisa Olivera, a licensed marriage and family therapist, previously told Elite Daily.
Learning to be happy with just yourself is a skill, and it takes a lot of work for some people to actually achieve it. Spending time alone is a way to connect with yourself in a way that is untethered to anyone or anything else in your surroundings. “You have to believe that this can become your reality,” breakup coach Trina Leckie previously told Elite Daily. “If you don’t believe that it is possible, you won’t manifest it.”
Believe it or not, being alone has been shown to spur creativity. A 2020 study published in Nature Communications found that being alone and without social stimulation led to increased activity in the neural circuits related to imagination, in order to fill the social void. While making yourself purposefully lonely might not be the best idea when it comes to you well-being, giving yourself time to be alone, without social interaction, might help you in your creative pursuits.
A lot of things we do daily are exhausting — work, social events, errands — even if we don’t notice it in the moment. If you keep pushing yourself to do things without a moment to relax, you will definitely feel the burnout eventually. "It’s amazing how refreshing and inspiring some time alone can be," self-care coach Carly Schweet previously told Elite Daily. Making time for yourself is a way for you can recharge your emotional and physical energy.
In order to see things in a different light, you have to train yourself to think positively. What better way to do that than when you are spending time with just yourself? "By examining your own logic and making it a daily practice to use positive thinking, it rewrites your chemistry and your ability to create happiness as your emotional default mode," Clarissa Silva, a behavioral scientist, relationship coach, and creator of the Your Happiness Hypothesis Method, previously told Elite Daily. "The best ways to enhance these levels are by making it a practice to consciously focus on positive outcomes."
For whatever reason, our culture emphasizes constant action and little reflection. Spend some time focusing on yourself and your thoughts, and less on your actions, and you will likely learn more about yourself in the process. It will make you a better, more authentic person not only when you’re alone, but also when you’re around others. “When you’ve taken the time to explore yourself, sharing your desires and boundaries with a partner becomes so much easier," intimacy expert Polly Rodriguez, who works with the sex-positive company Unbound, previously told Elite Daily. "It’s easier to know how to interact with others when you fully understand yourself.”
This may sound counterintuitive, but spending more time alone might actually make you feel less lonely in the long run. A 2020 study published in Cognitive Therapy and Research discovered that when reframing time alone as purposeful and positive solitude, people were more resilient to time spent alone in general, meaning they felt less lonely. The study also discussed how spending time alone might help with mood regulation.
Spending more time with yourself — without constant social distraction — will hopefully make you realize all the benefits it truly can have.
Nguyen, T. T., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2018). Solitude as an Approach to Affective Self-Regulation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44(1), 92–106. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167217733073
Spreng, R.N., Dimas, E., Mwilambwe-Tshilobo, L. et al. The default network of the human brain is associated with perceived social isolation. Nat Commun11, 6393 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20039-w
Rodriguez, M., Bellet, B. W., & McNally, R. J. (2020). Reframing Time Spent Alone: Reappraisal Buffers the Emotional Effects of Isolation. Cognitive therapy and research, 44(6), 1052–1067. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-020-10128-x
Nina Rubin, M.A., life coach
Elle Huerta, CEO and founder of heartbreak recovery app Mend
Seline Shenoy, podcast host, life coach, and author of the book Beauty Redefined
Pricilla Martinez, relationship coach and founder of Regroop Coaching
Jennifer L. FitzPatrick, licensed clinical social worker
Dr. Pamela Reilly, naturopathic physician
Dr. Julia Colangelo, LCSW, therapist
Trina Leckie, breakup coach
Lisa Olivera, licensed marriage and family therapist
Carly Schweet, self-care coach
Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist, relationship coach, and creator of the Your Happiness Hypothesis Method
Polly Rodriguez, intimacy expert at Unbound
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It’s not always fun at first, but it’s worth it.