The Benefits of Spending Time Alone
In this day and age, we are rarely alone. Even when we are not surrounded by people, we are surrounded by technology that bombards us with information all day long. We may feel connected to a lot more people like this, but our brains are getting tired and stressed due to this information overload.
The human brain is made for simpler times; we still carry the biology of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. But human society and technology have evolved to a point where there is more information around us than our brain can process. That’s not good for our brains, and cognitive capacities.
What’s the solution then? A pretty simple one, actually. Solitude.
The case for solitude
Solitude gets a bad rep in today’s global culture. With loneliness increasingly being recognized as a serious health threat the world over, one may think spending time alone is not an advisable activity. But this comes from a misunderstanding.
‘Loneliness’ and ‘solitude’ are two different things. Loneliness is negative – its the feeling of being isolated, vulnerable, helpless, and ignored. One can experience loneliness even when surrounded by friends and family. Solitude, on the other hand, is the state of being willingly alone and enjoying it. Loneliness can be an inability to express your emotions to your close ones. Solitude is taking a retreat in a forest cabin. No points for guessing which one is a positive experience, right?
It is the latter that is invaluable for both your psychological and cognitive health, especially if you lead a busy life.
Benefits of spending time alone
Allows you to de-stress
Work, commute, social interactions – these are all events that involve a certain amount of stress. No matter how close or comfortable you are with the people you are meeting, it requires you to be alert and responsive. It is only when we are alone we can drop all our guards and completely unwind. In our busy lives, it is extremely important to take the time to unwind, otherwise, the chronic stress can lead to other, bigger problems.
Increases focus and productivity
Being alone gives you the chance to remove distractions from your life, and that in turn helps sharpen your focus and increase productivity. In our daily life, we are always surrounded by a plethora of information which prevents us from focusing on one thing at a time. Removing unnecessary information from your surrounding helps to get work done a lot more quickly and efficiently.
Solitude gives you time for analytical and deep thinking, which is often difficult when we are amidst people. Deep thinking allows you to connect ideas and information that you previously may not have connected, and helps you understand things better.
We often overlook or misinterpret other people’s words and intentions when we are interacting with them. That happens because we don’t get enough time to reflect or ponder about those interactions. Solitude helps us think about ourselves and our surroundings objectively and from a distance. Spending some time alone actually helps strengthen your social bonds this way.
Helps with decision-making
The busier our lives are, the less we pay attention to our own selves and desires. Most of us follow a life-routine that has been taught to us by our environment, and never stop to consider if that is what we actually want. Solitude helps us understand ourselves better, and sort out our priorities. The more we know about ourselves, the better we are at making decisions that truly benefit us.
So take some time off for yourself, every day. Disconnect from the phone and internet, close the door and sit at the window for a while. Meditate, cook, or pursue a creative hobby of your choice on your own. You’ll find your mind clearer and healthier than it has ever been before.