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Why a consistent dose of ‘alone time’ can be vital for your wellbeing

In a world where the pace of life is more hectic than ever before, and where we’ve become wired to connect with others 24/7, the importance of solitude is too easily forgotten. And that’s a shame, given how a little bit of ‘alone time’, consistently applied, can not only help improve our mental and physical health, but the strength of our relationships, our levels of productivity, and our stress levels as well.

In the article that follows, we examine what ‘alone time’ looks like (you might be surprised!), the many benefits it can deliver, and a list of suggestions to help you practice it effectively…

What is ‘alone time’, exactly?

When we think about practicing solitude, we tend to immediately jump somewhere like an isolated mountain cabin, where we’re cut off from technology and the general hubbub of life; a place where we have time to turn inwards and contemplate. For some of us, so used to the immediate, constant interactions provided by social media and the busy rhythm of our lives, such a prospect can seem frightening. And so, we shy away from it, confusing solitude with isolation and loneliness, when, in fact, they are very separate things.

In truth, ‘alone time’ can happen anywhere – it is a matter of intention, rather than place. It can be private, in a corner of the house, on an early dawn beach walk, or in the aforementioned mountain cabin. But it can take place in public too, in a café, in a movie theatre, or even on a crowded sidewalk.

What matters is our mindset. Alone time happens when we consciously separate ourselves from others, at least in terms of our interactions, leaving us free to either be with our own thoughts, dreams, and observations, or to actively relax, taking time out to pursue something that gives us pleasure like reading, listening to music, or strolling through a park.

This might sound easy, but many of us have lost the art of being alone, depriving us of its many benefits, and leaving us the poorer for it.   

Eight great reasons to practice solitude

  • Self-Reflection: Solitude provides an opportunity for self-reflection and introspection. It allows us to explore our thoughts, emotions, and experiences without external distractions. This self-awareness can lead to personal growth, enhanced understanding of who we are, and improved decision-making skills.
  • Increased Creativity: Alone time can help foster the creative process. Being alone allows for uninterrupted focus and the freedom to explore new ideas, perspectives, and artistic expressions. It can lead to innovative thinking and the generation of unique insights.
  • Improved Productivity: Solitude can enhance productivity by eliminating distractions and interruptions. It enables us to concentrate on the task before us, whether it's studying, working on a project, or pursuing a personal hobby. With fewer external influences, we can achieve a state of flow and complete tasks more efficiently.
  • Emotional Rejuvenation: Solitude provides an opportunity to recharge emotionally. It can serve as a retreat from the demands and stresses of social interactions. Spending time alone can help us relax, reduce anxiety, and restore our emotional well-being.
  • Enhanced Problem-Solving: When faced with complex problems or challenges, solitude can help improve our problem-solving skills. It gives us the time and space to think critically, analyse situations from different perspectives, and explore potential solutions without external pressures or biases.
  • Increased Independence: Solitude encourages self-reliance and independence. It helps us become more comfortable with our own company, fostering a sense of autonomy and self-sufficiency. It can also help in developing a stronger sense of identity and personal values.
  • Renewed Perspective: Stepping away from the constant stimulation of social interactions can offer a fresh perspective on life. Solitude allows us to detach from societal norms and expectations, enabling us to question our beliefs, values, and goals. This can lead to personal growth, re-evaluation of priorities, and a clearer understanding of our purpose.
  • Mindfulness and Mental Clarity: Solitude can facilitate mindfulness, the practice of being fully present in the moment. By removing external distractions, we can cultivate a deeper connection with ourselves and our surroundings. This heightened awareness can lead to mental clarity, improved focus, and a greater appreciation for the present moment.

Of course, it's important to note that whilst solitude offers many benefits, it should be balanced with human connection, as this is also crucial for our well-being. The ideal balance between solitude and social engagement will vary for each of us, based on our individual needs and preferences.

Twenty awesome ways to practice solitude

Private Solitude
  • Go on a holiday or road trip by yourself
  • Take a walk at dusk on a beach
  • Find an empty corner of the house and curl up with a book
  • Meditate in a quiet spot
  • Listen to the birdsong whilst you walk a forest path
  • Practice gratitude or mindfulness while you complete household chores (quite a shift for some of us but rewarding too!!)
  • Start working on a complex, multi-piece puzzle
  • Take some time out with a colouring-in book and some pencils
  • Spend some time gardening

  • Public Solitude
  • Go to the movies by yourself
  • Take yourself out to dinner
  • Head to the local market and wander around
  • Watch the world pass by through a café window
  • Sunbathe on a beach during the summer holidays
  • Stroll through the city
  • Go to a museum or art gallery
  • Read in a library
  • Go to a concert or play
  • Practice yoga in a park