If you’re like me, you like to stay busy. I am great at being busy, and at making myself busy even when I didn’t mean to be. I am happy with living an active lifestyle –– I like to get out of the house, spend time with my friends, go on adventures, pick up side jobs every once in a while, you name it.
But as I continue to get busier and busier, I value the alone time I get a lot more than I used to. Sometimes I overbook myself so much that I don’t even get alone time. I have to literally carve it into my calendar and force myself not to schedule over it.
So why is alone time so important? Well, the simple answer is because it allows us to rest, relax, get a little self-care in there and take care of the smaller “housekeeping” tasks in our lives.
But it’s also important for a bigger reason: when we spend time alone, we have the opportunity to learn about ourselves. Think about it: when we’re out and about, we are stimulated and distracted by everything going on around us. But when we’re alone, we’re more aware of what we’re thinking, how we’re feeling, and what we want to do.
For some people, myself included, this can be a scary concept. Being left alone with my thoughts was not something I was comfortable with for a really long time. Sometimes it’s still difficult, but it gets easier with practice.
Through giving myself some alone time, I’ve learned that no matter how much I enjoy the company of my friends and loved ones, I feel much better after the occasional night of solitude. Whether it’s catching up on a tv show, reading a book, writing, or just sitting on the couch and staring into space, it does wonders for my mood and it grounds me back into myself. Not only does it help my general mood, but it has helped me learn and develop other skills as well.
Don’t underestimate the power of introspection. Spending time alone helps you turn your gaze inward for a change and really observe who you are at the present moment. What are you anxious about? How are you feeling physically? Is there something that’s been tugging at the back of your mind that you haven’t had time to confront yet? Or are you purely content with where you are? What do you need more or less of in your life?
Giving yourself the space to tackle these questions and have this inner monologue is crucial. We all need a second to take stock of all of these thoughts that can be running around in that crazy place we call our brains.
After we take stock of them, we can take appropriate action to change, correct, or appreciate any of the thoughts, ideas, or issues that have surfaced. This is how we grow and move forward.
Spending time alone is really the only chance we get to truly let our minds roam freely without any boundaries or restrictions – which is the perfect recipe for experimentation and coming up with new ideas.
When I’m alone, my mind usually ends up in the realm of abstract ideas, and how to express those ideas through various forms of art. Some of those ideas manifest themselves in these articles, while others end up in my photo collection eventually. You never know what you’ll come up with after spending some time alone and that’s the best part.
Developing my creativity is something that has become increasingly important to me, especially as I learn more about my own style and how I tend express myself through different media. Give yourself the freedom to do the same and you might be surprised at what you’re capable of!
Managing and expressing emotions
When you’re alone, no one is going to judge you but you. And don’t be too hard on yourself. You are free to scream, cry, sleep –– whatever you prefer to release the tension that has been building inside of you.
Life can be stressful and spending time alone will help you find an outlet that works for you to decompress and set your head straight. If you’re always with other people, rushing around to commitment after commitment, you’re more likely to implode or lash out, neither of which are pleasant. Spending time alone will allow you to release those feelings in a healthy way, so you can properly deal with them, express them and move on.
Selfishness is necessary sometimes
Most of the time, I end up overworking myself because I feel like others need me. They need my professional services, they need my support, they need my advice, they need to me listen. You name it, I’m willing to do it for the people I care about. But sometimes, I need some down time, too. And I always feel guilty for taking that down time because I feel like I’m being selfish, so I rarely take it.
As I spend more time alone, though, I’ve learned that I’m more helpful, more present, and more useful to others when I take the downtime that I need. After all, no one can be 100% on all the time. We all need a break, even those of us who tend to think we are superheroes.
As I take this time alone, I’ve learned that not only is going through a little guilt worth it, but the guilt gets easier to deal with as I reap the rewards of taking some time to myself.
You are okay by yourself and don’t need anyone else.
As I mentioned earlier, I used to be uncomfortable being alone. I always felt like I needed company to be happy, and if I was left alone for a long period of time, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I would sit in my room staring at the wall thinking about how lonely I was and end up spiraling down into tears.
Now, I look at alone time differently. When I’m alone, I’m more productive. I focus on the things I care about. And, believe it or not, I actually enjoy myself. All of this makes me realize that no matter what happens, I am okay being on my own and I don’t need anyone else to give me approval or to make me happy.
This realization that I will be okay has made me so much more confident in other aspects of my life, as well. It teaches me not to settle in relationships (romantic or otherwise), not to wait on other people, and to go after what I want in life on my own. In other words, it’s given me a “take-no-prisoners” attitude and I’m so much happier that way.
In short, spending time alone has been truly empowering for me. I’ve learned all of this and more and I’m sure I’ll continue to discover things as I continue to make time for myself. Hopefully it will do the same for you, no matter where you are in your alone time journey.
Don’t be afraid to start small. I started just with scheduling one hour a week and I’m slowing gaining more momentum and turning it into a habit. We all need different amounts of alone time, so no shame in you doing you, and if you end up with more things to add to this list, we’d love to to hear about them!