Some people are completely content being alone, for others, it can be uncomfortable and lonely. In this day and age, human interaction is a regular occurrence for most people, whether it’s online or IRL. While human connection is a particularly important part of life, studies show that spending time alone can benefit our lives, too. Solitude not only increases productivity, mental strength, empathy, and creativity, but it also helps you get to know yourself better.
These days, it feels almost wrong to not be checking off tasks on your to-do list or texting your friends about your weekend plans, however, slowing down and spending time relaxing in solitude is essential for your mental wellbeing. For extroverts and social butterflies, this may seem easier said than done, so, if you want to start spending more time on your own but don’t know how, here are some tips to get started:
Unplug and tune in
There’s no better way to practice solitude than to unplug from technology. Put your phone down, stop comparing your life to the ones you see online, and get to know yourself. If this seems daunting, start small. Start with 10 minutes of no phone, laptop, music, television, or podcasts. Find a comfortable place to sit or lay down (on the couch, in your bed, or in nature), close your eyes if you prefer, and let your mind wander. If just sitting there is too inactive for you, try doing a simple, repetitive task like coloring, knitting, or cleaning your room.
Take yourself out
For many people who aren’t completely comfortable on their own, going out to eat by yourself can seem overwhelming or even embarrassing. Not only do you have to be okay with eating alone, but there are strangers all around, and it’s much harder to distract yourself at a restaurant than in the comfort of your own home. If sitting in a restaurant all alone seems like too much, start by taking yourself out to a movie, where it’s easier to be distracted, or having a coffee at a local café. Wherever it is you take yourself, remember to be mindful of the activities you’re doing. What was your favorite and least favorite part of your meal? Who are some interesting people you noticed at neighboring tables? What kind of emotions did you feel sitting there on your own? In what ways was your solo movie-going experience different than the times you’ve gone out with friends?
Get moving outside
Both moving your body and spending time in nature have a multitude of benefits. It’s easier to feel up for a walk in the park if you have a friend or family member to help motivate you to get out of the house, but try to go on your own. Not only does physical activity release endorphins (the chemical in our brains that makes us feel happy), but being in nature has also been shown to reduce feelings of depression, anger, and anxiety. Notice your surroundings and how your body feels. Feel the breeze on your skin. Take in the smells around you.
Make yourself useful
Once you have become more comfortable doing things on your own, figure out things you can do to make yourself feel accomplished. You can clean out your refrigerator, reorganize your room, clean out your closet, learn a new skill, or find a new hobby. Not only will these activities give you time to be alone, but they will also give you a sense of responsibility and achievement.
Find ways to be creative
Finding new hobbies has been proven to help declutter your mind, expand your imagination, and offer new challenges and experiences. Think of something you’ve always wanted to try and never quite got around to. Take a step outside your comfort zone. Take up gardening, knitting, photography, or baking. Try playing a new instrument, writing a short story, learning a new language, or painting. Choosing a creative outlet helps you better understand yourself, feel accomplished, and ultimately gives you yet another thing to do on your own.
The journey to becoming comfortable being alone can take some getting used to, but once you make time for these new activities and routines, they become habitual, and you’ll even find yourself craving alone time so you can get them done. With solitude comes comfort, peace, and more opportunities to grow.