Be Alone, It's Okay! How Self-Care And Solitude Go Hand In Hand

By Carlene Townley, LMFT Associate
 

We live in a “go! go! go!” society. One that seems to have trouble slowing down or places much value on being alone.

Today’s kids often march through the day, advancing from school to sports to tutoring to bed. Interaction with teachers, peers, and coaches happens constantly.

Today’s adults speed along, from work to the gym to errands to chores to bed (after 12 am if we’re lucky) in perpetual conversation and communication. And unfortunately, weekends don’t allow for much “me time” either.

In our world, busy means successful. The fuller our calendars, the longer our to-do lists, the more friends we’ve made plans with, the better we fit in. But what toll does this take on our physical and mental state? Is there something valuable we miss in refusing to simply be alone?  

As with anything, our personal lives require balance. While there’s nothing wrong with having things to do and people to see, there is also nothing wrong with solitude. By learning how to fully appreciate time on your own, you can live a healthier, happier and more authentic life.

Solitude Fosters Self-awareness

Do you know who you are? Beyond your favorite color, TV show or restaurant. Do have much insight into the experiences and perceptions that make you, you? 

Unfortunately, many of us are unable to answer, “yes” to those questions. We’re unable to answer yes because we’ve never given ourselves the undistracted opportunity to find out.

The best way to rediscover who we are is by spending time alone. It really is okay to be alone for the sake of introspection and emotional digestion. If you’re not used to spending time by yourself, it may feel awkward, uncomfortable, or even difficult when you first begin. But the more you do it, the more content and fulfilled you’ll feel. 

People often mistake a willingness to be alone with being resigned to loneliness, when that’s not the case at all. Put aside the stigmas or stereotypes that you’ve heard about solitude. When you spend time watching a movie by yourself or sitting at a coffee shop alone, you give yourself space to focus on your thoughts. You familiarize yourself with the inner workings of your brain. You slowly begin to discover who you are and how to be comfortable when others are not around.

Knowing who you are and enjoying your own company is important in that you are the only one lives with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s always wise to know who you’re living with.  

Solitude Fosters Self-Care

While solitude gives you the opportunity to discover yourself, it also allows you to recharge. Setting aside time to be alone can be rejuvenating, calming, and focused on your physical and emotional needs. Forgoing this time for the sake of people (partners, friends, your kids) and a myriad of responsibilities can actually be unhealthy, marked by stress or unproductive interactions.

When you spend time alone, you’re given the opportunity to take care of your basic needs as well as some needs that you might never fully attend under normal circumstances. In time, you may begin to look forward and appreciate the time. Intentionally allowing time to be alone help tremendously in establishing a self-care routine.

Listed below is just a handful of rejuvenating self-care activities. Don’t save these for your downtime; instead, schedule them as often as possible to make self-care a priority:

  • Read
  • Journal
  • Draw/paint/color
  • Paint your nails
  • Get a massage
  • Cook or bake
  • Watch TV or see a movie
  • Take a bath
  • Light a candle
  • Do yoga
  • Take a walk
  • Pick up a new hobby
  • Unplug (turn off your electronics for an hour)

Be alone. It’s good for you. You deserve to treat yourself well and know yourself better.