Alone Time is Great For Your Mental Health
As humans, we are naturally social beings. We crave interaction with one another. If it were not for our social nature, we would not have evolved into sophisticated people we are, living in an advanced society. While staying social and interacting with friends and family is vital to your health and well-being, separating yourself from large groups can also be just as essential.
Spending too much time around other people can be overwhelming. You may start to feel irritable, anxious, and stressed. You may even lash out at those around you. Getting some quality alone time is crucial to help your mind and body reset and refresh.
While the current pandemic has caused millions to isolate themselves, you can still need personal alone time. Some people are introverts and prefer being alone, while extroverts cannot stand being alone.
A series of 11 studies found that participants across a wide range of ages did not enjoy spending even a brief period of time alone in a room doing nothing. In fact, some preferred giving themselves a mild electric shock rather than sit in a room and think.
However, while we may not always enjoy it, alone time can improve your mood and mental health, both for introverts and extroverts.
Lifeworks Counseling Center understands how difficult this year has been for many. COVID-19 has impacted the mental health of countless individuals. Even though our situation is different than in the past, alone time is just as important. However, if you still struggle with your mental health even with appropriate alone time, contact Lifeworks and let us help you live life well again.
What is the Difference Between Loneliness and Alone Time?
While the two sound similar, there are major differences between loneliness and alone time. When you are alone, it is a physical state of not being around anyone else. Loneliness is an emotional state.
Those who feel loneliness experience significant disconnect to others. They can be in a large group, yet they still feel lonely. You do not need to spend time by yourself to feel lonely. Experts hypothesize that increased internet use and the feeling of false intimacy from online connections may lead to increased rates of loneliness.
Benefits of Being Alone
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, there are plenty of things you can take away from being alone. You don’t even need to spend that much time alone. Even 15 minutes by yourself can help you reset and refresh. Some of the best benefits you can get from alone time include:
It Reduces Stress
In a 2017 study that was part of the “Solitude Project,” researchers discovered that those who actively choose to be alone experience stress relief and felt more relaxed when they were alone.
Being social beings, we are always under pressure to please those around us, which can be a stressor. When you are alone, those pressures diminish or go away entirely. Plus, many people take this alone time to practice relaxing activities, such as exercising, yoga, meditation, and more.
Your Brain Can Unwind and Refresh
No matter what you are doing, when you are around others, your brain is always on. Even if you are not at work or school, simply being around others distracts your mind. Your brain is not able to think clearly. Being alone gives your brain time to clear itself, focus, and think clearly. Alone time gives your brain much needed rest, revitalizing your mind and, in turn, your body.
Your Productivity Increases
Tying into the section above, being able to focus and think clearly also helps improve your productivity. You no longer have distractions to keep you from working on what needs to get done.
Whether schoolwork, work, or chores, alone time boosts your productivity. Removing distractions allows you to concentrate better. Studies have shown that working alone increases your productivity. A study from the University of Calgary also found that working in isolation leads to faster workers. If there is a project you need to do, give yourself some alone time.
It Gives You Time to Self-Reflect
It can be hard to process everything that is going on in your life when you’re always around others. Often, you have to engage with your surroundings, taking your focus away from concentrating on your life.
Alone time gives you a chance to catch up with what you have been through and allows you to process whatever emotions you are feeling. Journaling is a great way to reflect and gives you an activity to engage in during alone time.
Additionally, you can take this time to count your blessings while you self-reflect. It’s easy to focus on the negative. Take this time alone to be grateful for the good things in your life. According to one study, practicing gratitude boosts your sense of well-being while leading to a more positive attitude towards life.
It Increases Mental Fortitude
Sitting alone with your thoughts can be a daunting experience. We all have fears, anxieties, worries, hopes, dreams, and a plethora of other emotions. These emotions can be overwhelming at times.
However, being alone can help build mental toughness. It forces you to face these emotions. Especially during the ongoing pandemic, you may be left with your thoughts more often than before. As these emotions arise and you deal with them, you build mental fortitude, which prepares you to face them in the future.
How Can You Successfully Be Alone?
Even if you understand these benefits, it can be hard to carve out some alone time in your busy schedule. However, there are many things you can do to help you find time and engage in your alone time.
- Disconnect: Remove any distractions that allow you to connect with others, such as your smartphone, laptop, or TV. If you need your computer to be productive, if possible, disconnect from the internet, so you aren’t bombarded with notifications.
- Carve Out Some Free Time: Wake up half an hour or an hour early every morning to give yourself some spare time. Use this time to practice mindfulness, exercise, create, or whatever calms you down and makes you happy.
- Schedule Time: If you have a busy schedule, schedule some time between activities to be by yourself. Your day is full of small, inconsequential tasks, so if you can make time for them, why can’t you do the same for yourself? Even 15 to 30 minutes is enough.
- Shut Your Door: If you work in the office and want to avoid being distracted, shut your door. Doing so implies to others you wish to be alone. If you share a living space with someone, go to a separate room and close your door.
There is no right amount of alone time. Everyone is different and requires different things. Introverts often need more alone time than extroverts. After a few times, you’ll know what works best for you.
However, if you continue to struggle with your mental health, consider giving Lifeworks Counseling Center a call today. Our team is here to help you get back on track.