7 Great Reasons to Spend Time Alone
“I want to be alone,” said Greta Garbo in the movie Grand Hotel. I hear it, with Garbo’s accent, as “I vant to be alone” accompanied by a dramatic hand to the forehead. Maybe that’s because I crave any chance to spend time alone. I’m a woman who enjoys periods of solitude.
A few weeks ago, I had that rarest of opportunity–four days and three nights alone. I love my family and friends, but oh my gosh, I had a great time. After putting an “I’ll get back to you in a few days” message on my phone and stashing my car key in a drawer, I read, wrote, napped, walked my dog, watched movies, and enjoyed several long hot baths complete with candles. Every one of the actions was good self-care; put them all together and it was sheer bliss.
Do You Like to Spend Time Alone?
Time alone has a bad rap. Too much time alone is linked to heart disease and early death in elderly people. Solitary confinement is a severe punishment for prisoners. People who enjoy solitude are loners to be pitied. And in one oft-quoted 2014 research study, some participants were actually willing to administer electric shock to themselves rather than be alone with their thoughts.
However, there’s a big difference between solitude that heals and solitude that encourages suffering. According to developmental psychologist Kenneth Rubin, it comes down to your ability to manage your emotions when you engage in the inner exploration that is part of any significant time alone, and to be able to rejoin other people when you are ready.
It is important to note that true solitude is several steps beyond simply spending time alone. For some, solitude means no distractions from thought for a sustained period of time–no books, movies, or technology.
There are unique benefits to extended periods of solitude, but even a short time spent alone has great value.
7 Reasons to Spend Time Alone
1. No Compromises
You can do exactly what you want, when you want. On one very rainy day, I walked the dog, had a hot bath early in the morning, and climbed back into bed for a few hours.
When you spend time alone, it’s much easier to listen to yourself and know what you really want. The journaling I did during my time alone led to a few breakthroughs in my quest to uncover a new life purpose.
The most valuable thing we can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room, not try to be or do anything whatever.May Sarton
3. Save Money
Socializing costs money. Time in stores always costs me money. For four days and three nights, I didn’t spend a dime.
4. Improve Relationships
Time alone to center yourself can make it easier to return to others. A Harvard study has found that our ability to empathize with others improves if we have some solitude in between social interactions.
5. Solve Problems
When you don’t have to deal with other people’s judgments and opinions, it is easier to be innovative.
6. Be in the Moment
Time alone allows you to slow down and enjoy all of the little moments that usually pass by without notice. My days alone felt good and long.
7. Increase Productivity
If you have work to do, it’s much easier to concentrate when alone. Concentrating allows you to get more done in less time.
Do you like to spend time alone? What are some of the ways you fit alone time into your week?