Spending time with family and friends is important to your mental well-being, but sometimes you need time to be alone. You may be surprised to learn that being alone helps you become more resilient. Here’s what scientists say about how loneliness can make you stronger.
You’ve probably read recently how loneliness is at an all-time high due to the pandemic. It is an understandable concern. Loneliness can have negative effects on people and lead to psychiatric risks, suicide, and social anxiety. Other negative aspects of loneliness include:
There is a great effort to combat loneliness, but researchers are discovering that loneliness has little to do with social interaction and more to do with how people see themselves in their world. Simply adding people to your life won’t necessarily take away your loneliness. Therefore, it is important to understand what loneliness is and what it is not.
Being alone versus lonely
Loneliness can harm your sanity, but loneliness and being alone differ from each other. Just because you are physically alone does not mean that you feel alone. Researchers say loneliness is a perception. If you perceive yourself alone without friends, then you will feel alone. One study found that those who felt lonely had a higher risk of dementia, but the amount of time people spent alone did not affect whether they contracted dementia. Other research found that lonely people were more prone to illness and immune problems.
But spending time alone or being alone does not lead to loneliness. In fact, many religions practice solitude and withdrawal from society to find inner peace and spiritual refreshment. Historically, some of the most creative people felt that alone time helped them be more creative. In fact, the well-known painter, Pablo Picasso, He said that “no serious work is possible without great loneliness.”
Many people enjoy time alone. In one survey, 85% of the adults interviewed said that alone time was important to them and many people wish they had more alone time.
So what is the difference between loneliness and loneliness? It could be your perception of the two. Loneliness is a negative emotion based on your desire to have more contact with people compared to the reality of your actual lack of social contact. Loneliness, on the other hand, is a choice you make to get away from people.
Basically, you decide if loneliness is negative or positive. If you evaluate being alone as loneliness, you will experience the pains of loneliness. But if you perceive being alone as something positive, you will receive the benefits of loneliness.
What are the benefits of being alone?
You may not be so convinced that loneliness is good for you. If you are a social person, you may not want to spend time alone. But you may be surprised at the beneficial benefits you experience from having some loneliness. Here are several benefits to consider.
1 – Being alone can help you be more compassionate
When you are with your specific group of friends and family, you isolate yourself from others. It is not necessarily mean, but you tend to exclude people who are not within your “circle.” Loneliness allows you to feel part of the human race. You develop compassion for other people and may even be willing to include them in your life. It’s like your world gets bigger with the time you spend alone.
2 – Being alone enhances your creativity
There is a long list of musicians, authors, and artists who seek solitude to inspire their creativity. When you are alone in your living room, there are no distractions, so your mind can rest, allowing ideas to bubble to the top of your consciousness. This drive for creativity and productivity is widespread. Some people even suggest that an open floor plan in your home is not helpful for creativity because it is louder and less private.
3 – Being alone reduces stress
Learning to hang out with yourself reduces your stress. Let’s be honest. People add stress to your life. Solitude allows you to take a breath and enjoy some peace. You can go for a walk, read a book or clean a closet … whatever you want to do that helps your mind and body relieve stress.
Spending time with family and friends is great, but sometimes you need to be alone to plan your life. You may need time to figure out where you want to go on vacation next summer. You may need time to plan for retirement. A break from the hustle and bustle of life gives you perspective on your future. Loneliness gives you time to evaluate your goals, dreams, and aspirations and make changes if necessary.
5 – Being alone helps your satisfaction
Whether you choose to read, clean the house, or paint the bathroom, you find pleasure in solitude because you feel satisfied with your life. You are not looking for people to occupy your time, but you are comfortable being alone. Loneliness allows you to reflect on all that you should be grateful for, which in turn leads to joy and satisfaction with your life.
How does your negative view of being alone change?
Researchers say it can alter your negative view of the events in your life so that you really reinterpret the meaning of a distressing situation. Is named cognitive reevaluation. It is beneficial when you cannot change your circumstance from feeling lonely with a sudden social contact. It allows you to view your alone time in a more positive light so that you end up benefiting from loneliness. As your view of being alone changes, your negative mood decreases. You enjoy your loneliness in a new way and you feel happy without people just as you are happy being around people.
Why does being alone have such a bad reputation?
Loneliness There is not much talk, but you hear a lot of negative things about being alone. The social stigmas about being lonely have fueled misconceptions about loneliness. Everything from sitcoms to Instagram posts convey the idea that you should feel lonely if you are home on a Friday night. These social stigmas affect your own ideas about how to be alone, so you assume that you feel lonely because that’s what they tell you.
Being alone is also seen as a weakness, a big mistake. Others may assume that there must be something wrong with you if you are not hanging out with people every weekend. One study found that people who like to spend time alone are seen as less attractive, less psychologically adapted, and less desirable as friends. It is easy to fall into these views, so much so that you start to see loneliness as something negative.
How to start enjoying solitude
You understand and agree that there are benefits to being alone, but how do you find the time for solitude? You have work, school, children, and a whole list of other things in your life that probably make loneliness feel impossible. Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of free time to experience solitude. Short periods of time alone is all you need to be alone. Even if you only have 10 minutes at night after the children have gone to bed, you can allow yourself to sit quietly.
Without your smartphone or television, allow your mind to wander and daydream. You will be surprised by the creative ideas that you come up with. Take a deep breath, journal about your day, or write a poem. Walk 15 minutes before picking up your children from school. Silence your electronic devices while in the car on the school kiss and ride, and be alone with your thoughts for a few minutes. Some people schedule a retreat for themselves once a year to read, study, plan, or relax.
Consider this the time you need to restore your inner peace and recharge your batteries.
It may take time before you really enjoy being alone, but not only will you get used to it, you will start to love it.
Being alone has a bad reputation by the media and our society in general. If you like being alone, you may be perceived as socially lacking, weak, or incompetent. It’s hard not to get carried away by this thought about loneliness, even if it’s not necessarily true. Of course, you might really like being with people all the time and hate the idea of being alone too long. If this is you, you might want to know how much you can benefit from being alone once in a while.
Solitude has so many benefits that it is worth spending some time alone. You can become mentally stronger, more creative, and more confident. People who practice solitude are more compassionate towards other people. Who knows the plans you will make or the unique ideas that will occur to you in your lonely times? There are so many advantages to having alone time. Why not schedule some solitude for yourself this week?