Hey Psych2Go-ers. Welcome back!
How do you feel about being alone? Does it fill you with dread or does the idea ignite excitement in you? Your personal preference for solitude depends on whether it has a positive or negative impact on you. Typically extroverts tend to not be big fans of solitude while some introverts seem to thrive on it. It’s not to say that wherever you fall on the spectrum, you might want complete isolation or absolutely detest the notion of alone time. Having alone time is crucial for personal growth, even though it gets a bad reputation.
Solitude is often mistaken for loneliness, even though there’s a difference between the two. Loneliness is craving connection and intimacy whilst being isolated while solitude can be a necessary practice to recharge and just be by yourself. With solitude you get to energize your life and fuel your soul but loneliness disconnects us from others. Taking a few moments to get your bearings together and stepping back from outside activity can do wonders for you.
If you’re still not convinced that there are any benefits of solitude, here are 6 reasons why being alone is good for you that might make you reconsider.
- You Learn Something New And Get To Focus On Your Own Needs
The best way to know ourselves is to have solo time to do so. It’s vital to assess what’s important to us. When we’re not focused on the competing interests, we can get clear and honest about our true passions.
When you’re no longer putting your interests aside to appease people and not ruffle feathers, you finally get the opportunity to pursue something that satisfies you, instead of being focused on what others are doing. So sign up for that dance class, pottery workshop and archery for beginners. Your new, captivating hobby awaits you.
- It Boosts Creativity
Creativity is better tapped into when your mind is free to wander and explore without the limitations imposed by external competing agendas and thoughts. So doing solitary work encourages innovation and exploration without the added social pressure to confirm.
A study by psychologists at SUNY Buffalo discovered that people who enjoy solitude tend to be more creative. By having time to yourself, it gives you a chance to initiate creative choices and focus your attention without having to worry about what other people are thinking or how they will receive your decisions.
- You Find Your Own Voice and Identity
With the advent of technology, information is available to us in a flash. That also means that everyone who has an opinion to share, will share it and usually does and all of this noise can cloud our minds and our inner voice and self identity becomes suppressed or lost. We might start doubting our own decision-making skills because a stranger on the internet sounds more sure of themselves than we think we are.
Finding your own identity in a world that is seemingly trying to become more homogeneous is a superpower. You won’t get swept up in emotional, passionate sentiments or be an accomplice to mob mentality. You can think independently about what you agree with or what matters to you and you look within to converse with yourself and create your own conclusions. The practice of being alone helps you to shut out external influences over time, resulting in you being more confident and comfortable in your abilities about your authenticity and any future decisions you make.
- It Enhances The Quality of Your Relationships
When it comes to relationships, absence (or in this case, solitude) does make the heart grow fonder. You enjoy being around a person or your people more when you’ve not seen them in a while. As vital as strong social support systems are for well being, taking breaks makes us appreciate the connections even more.
Surprisingly, when people are taking care of themselves separately from the relationship, the relationship becomes stronger. The moments spent alone aid us in understanding and valuing ourselves and we, in turn, better understand and respect others. This strengthens the relationship with the people who matter to us most.
- It Improves Your Mental Well-being
Have you had a hectic day, your head is pounding and your problems are compounding? You wish you could get away. Thankfully, with a little solitude, you can get the mental clarity and reduction of the chatter of life without having to wait to go on holiday or taking sick leave.
A benefit of working alone is that it helps you focus your attention which leads to improved recall and retention. A 2016 study by Marion and Thorley published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, found that groups working together to recall information performed worse than individuals recalling things on their own.
Those who find comfort in solitary activities tend to be happier, have improved stress management and lower levels of stress and better life satisfaction. Some studies have even shown that they are less likely to experience depression.
- You Learn Not To See Others As Sources Of Your Happiness
We have people in our lives that we love (I think). Whether we love their smile, personality or the way they make us feel, we couldn’t imagine our lives without them because they make us happy. But this can have a downside to it. And that begins when we start seeing them as the source of our happiness.
It’s an amazing feeling to be with someone who makes you feel happy but to delegate to them the job of making you happy all the time is a recipe for disappointment and resentment because people are fallible and we make mistakes. It’s also a heavy burden to bear to be someone’s center of happiness. So once you start enjoying your own time, life and interests, other people stop becoming things you are dependent on for joy. Say that you discover that someone is not the right fit for you and you decide to end your relationship with them. You might be sad about it but since you identified the unpleasantness that had surfaced, you can exit quicker than if you were afraid that you would never be able to be happy independently.
If you’re not used to solitude, it can feel uncomfortable at the beginning and a bit daunting. No matter your personality type, everyone can benefit from a moment of solitude every so often. One of the greatest advantages of being alone is that we get to reestablish the connection to ourselves that our daily routines and the modern world might not allow us to because they demand so much of us. Sometimes we need to be alone and that can be a key factor in becoming the best version of ourselves.
We hope you found this helpful and encouraging, Psych2Go-ers. See you soon.
*Cherry, K. (2020, September 17). The psychological benefits of being alone. Verywell Mind. Retrieved May 14, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/the-benefits-of-being-by-yourself-4769939
*Hailey Gamba. (2021, December 19). How to LOVE BEING ALONE…for real. YouTube.com. Retrieved May 14, 2022 from https://youtu.be/oebI-3cmSSI
*Ingraham, C. (2021, November 24). Analysis | people who seek solitude are more creative, study finds. The Washington Post. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/11/22/people-who-seek-solitude-are-more-creative-study-finds/
*Itani, O. (2020, January 29). Solitude: The importance and benefits of spending time alone – Omar Itani. Google. Retrieved May 14, 2022, from https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.omaritani.com/blog/spending-time-alone%3fformat=amp
*Marion, S. B., & Thorley, C. (2016). A meta-analytic review of collaborative inhibition and postcollaborative memory: Testing the predictions of the retrieval strategy disruption hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 142(11), 1141–1164. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000071
*Morin, A. (2021, December 10). 7 science-backed reasons you should spend more time alone. Forbes. Retrieved May 14, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2017/08/05/7-science-backed-reasons-you-should-spend-more-time-alone/?sh=78bbe4c61b7e