Mallory Welsh, LCSW

If you read my last blog post referencing the article from The New York Times, “Why you should find time to be alone with yourselfby author Micaela Marini Higgs, you may be curious about not only the benefits of spending alone time, but also how to implement alone time in your life.  

Below answers those two items from the remaining part of Higgs’s article. 

 

  • What are the benefits of spending time alone? There was a recent online survey called the The Rest Test that showed the importance that rest can have for individuals. The survey indicated that people get the most rest accomplished when they do activities by themselves. Rest is not very easy to define, because one may think- does it mean resting our mind or resting our body? Because, for some people, the mind can only rest when the body is at rest. While for others, they need to tire out their body to allow their mind to rest. Most reported that is through physical exercise that allowed their mind to rest. While there is a clear stigma that doing activities by themselves is not accepted, it is something our body and minds crave and need. I have many clients who look shocked when I provide the idea of going to lunch by themselves as they dread the idea of being at a restaurant by themselves and even say aloud to me, “what if people stare at me and think I am weird that I am sitting by myself?” 
  • Aloneliness. While the thought of doing things by ourselves can create anxiety for many, it is actually very much needed. Dr. Coplan describes the word aloneliness- the desire to want to spend time in solitude. My own computer even is unaware of this word as it believes it to be misspelled. Perhaps the idea of aloneliness creates anxiety for others because individuals may not realize this idea exists and if it does truly exist, they are unaware that their body and mind very much could benefit from it, and it could be something that helps us feel better. You may be thinking only introverts enjoy time being alone; however, it has nothing to do with being an introvert nor an extrovert. People who are self-aware of what their mind and body need are okay with not giving into other people’s social request also tend to enjoy solitude for recharge time. 
  • Boundaries. The idea of not giving into what other people want you to do, such as attending different social gatherings, simply comes down to implementing boundaries with others. It is okay to say “no” to others if you feel like your mind and body need time by itself. Constantly engaging with others can feel both mentally and physically exhausting. Having time alone can be an incredible way to decompress the stressors from the day.
  • So how can I implement time by myself? If you have read this far into both blog posts, you may be wondering how to implement aloneliness into your life. Great question! Take small steps. Maybe this means dedicating just 20 minutes at the local coffee shop to write a blog post or read a book that you like. Be sure to plan an activity that you think you will truly enjoy. If you don’t enjoy writing, definitely don’t bring your computer to the coffee shop as that will not give you joy. Reflect on your interests, hobbies, and values, as that can lead you in the right direction of dedicating some much-needed time alone. 

 

If you are currently struggling with how to cope with spending time with yourself, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.