Solitude: The Importance of Spending Time Alone

Your relationships, creativity and stress levels may benefit from some QT with yourself.

As you rack your brain, you may be surprised that you come up short. And you're not alone. While humans are social beings by nature, we live in a society where we're over-scheduled, leaving very little room for a little QT with ourselves.

For many, the idea of being alone may be an uncomfortable one. Spotting someone enjoying a movie solo or spending Friday night in elicits pity, since we tend to associate solitude with loneliness or isolation. We’ve also confused “being alone” with “being lonely”. But that, of course, is not the case.

Being alone doesn’t necessarily cause loneliness and many people can feel lonely despite being in the constant presence of other people. Author Amy Morin describes it best when she says: “loneliness is about perceiving that no one is there for you. But solitude is about making a choice to be alone with your thoughts.”

Research shows that solitude is an important time for humans to “center” themselves, which then facilitates more genuine connections with others.

The Benefits of Spending Time Solo

  • It allows you to learn more about yourself and find your own voice. In a world where information is available at your fingertips and everyone has an opinion to share, sometimes it’s incredibly rewarding to trust that you have the answers you seek. All it takes it to build the habit of looking within to converse with yourself. Solitude becomes a medium to learn more about who you are as a person.

  • It empowers you to become comfortable with who you are. The more you learn to shun out external influence, the more comfortable and confident you feel about your authenticity. This confidence, in turn, will project in the future decisions you will make.

  • It boosts your creativity. A recent study found that people who enjoy solitude tend to be more creative. I personally really appreciate my alone time. It allows me to rewind, to reflect and more so, allow my imagination to wander. Most often it’s when I roam in nature that I get my best ideas.

  • It gives you an opportunity to plan your life. We plan our business meetings and our upcoming vacations. At work, there are quarterly business reviews and bi-annual performance reviews. We plan and reflect for work and fun — but why don’t we do the same for our dreams, aspirations and personal lives? Take a break from the rhythm of rush to reflect on whether you’re living a life true to you and your goals.

  • It improves your mental wellbeing. Studies have shown that people who learn to find comfort in solitude tend to be happier, experience lower levels of stress and are less likely to have depression.

How to Spend Your ‘Alone Time’

  • Meditate. This is a habit that’s slowly changing my life for the better. I swear by meditation. It calms you down and sharpens your focus muscle. Every morning I meditate for 12 minutes. I sit up straight, set a timer, and meditate in silence. It’s hard at first, but with time, you will love it so much that it becomes a pillar in your daily routine.

  • Write in a journal. I write in my journal once a week. For me, it’s the best way to have a conversation with my mind. When you write, spill out your emotions. Be raw, be real. Let it all out — the good and the bad — and watch how you’ll feel lighter every single time you journal.

  • Set goals. Take control of your life. If you don’t invest the time to be alone with your thoughts and ask yourself “what do I want to achieve this year” then you’ll end up living your life on autopilot. You need a goal — a destination to work towards. I love this quote by Abraham Lincoln: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Take the time to plan where you want to go in life.

  • Reflect on your goals. Spend time in solitude reflecting on your progress. Are you following the plan you set in place? Are you on track to achieving the goals you set out?

  • Pay attention to your emotions. Solitude is a door to self-care. Check-in with yourself just as you would with your loved ones. How are you feeling? Physically? Emotionally? Mentally?