When I started brainstorming for this article, I was shocked by how much fear the word 'alone' evoked in people. Alone is often mistaken for loneliness. It's seen as a negative side-effect for anti-socialness. To choose alone time must mean you have no one to spend your time with. Many people call it unhealthy and unnatural. Some believe that our sole purpose is to interact with others. Which is true, but not just to avoid being alone with yourself.
In the last fifty years, we have developed an interesting relationship with ourselves. Our self-image is now dictated by Hollywood. The rise of technology means we never have to truly be by ourselves. I think this shift in perception has caused everyone to lose touch with who they really are and what's important.
I choose to take time by myself for my own mental health. I think the world we live in often causes people to get overstimulated by social media, tv and the people around us. If you're never alone, you're never giving yourself a chance to breathe and be yourself. Because no matter how close you are with your best friend, you're still feeding them a version of yourself. I feel like most people don't realize that because they're so used to friends and family being around that they don't know themselves when all other factors are stripped away. It's important to be comfortable with who you are when no one's watching.
So why is alone time important? Alone time is essential because it gives you that much-needed quality time for yourself. Emphasis on quality. I'm not talking about your 1:00 AM Netflix binges or the two minutes you're brushing your teeth. I'm talking about the quality time you allot to productively think and work on yourself. That might sound like just as much fun as a mid-term, but you'll get to the point where it's truly liberating. I start to crave that time to myself after a couple of days of constantly being with friends.
Here's a couple of my favorite ways to have meaningful alone time:
1. Fill your life with rituals.
I LOVE my rituals. And no, I'm not talking about creepy witch voodoo stuff. I'm talking about engraining self-care into your daily schedule to maximize your alone time. I used to go to bed at night and spend two hours scrolling social media and then get pissed afterward for wasting so much of my life. Instead, I started implementing different rituals into my schedule to get the most out of my time.
I have a nightly ritual where I put on my moisturizer and drink some tea and watch some Bachelor.
I can't believe I'm admitting to that.
Sometimes in the mornings, I wake up an extra thirty minutes before having to start the long to class. I'll brew some coffee or tea and take a minute to read a book or listen to music. Sometimes I get up and sit outside with coffee and look at the lake behind my house. Also, every Sunday I do an intense Lush bubble bath with candles and face masks just to relax.
GOD, I sound like my grandma.
But actually though, taking that time for yourself to get acquainted with the day makes the world of difference in the quality of your life.
Life moves fast, slowing down with yourself is important. Alone time isn't always about sitting and thinking deep philosophical thoughts; it's about peacefulness.
2. Leave home by yourself.
I thrive by myself.
Imagine going to the mall without worrying about your friend waiting for you to finish trying on clothes or without your mom pressuring you to buy an ugly shirt. It is blisssss. I can take my time and shop as slow and leisurely as I want. I don't have to debate about whether we're hitting up P.F Changs or Brio, I'm going to P.F. Changs without a doubt. It's good to spend your alone time making your own decisions. A lot of people struggle with being decisive. But you can't live life like that. You have to be confident enough in yourself to decide whether or not that shirt is cute or if that bracelet is worth the money.
Whenever I tell family and friends that I'm getting food or going to the beach by myself, they look at me like I'm crazy. But It's nice to enjoy time by yourself without having to worry about anything or anyone else.
People often get nervous of other people judging them or seeing someone they know if they don't have their four-person squad backing them up. But I think that's a worry we've crafted in our own heads. At least I know when I see someone chilling on the beach by themselves, I admire their confidence, and I hope that I can be that content with myself that I can feel comfortable doing my own thing.
Be the driver of your own life and spend some alone time taking the reigns and other related cheesy sayings. Just spend some time learning what you want and what you like without other people's opinions getting in the way.
3. Declutter your life.
Nothing brings me more peace then organizing. Whether it be clothes, random knickknacks or my schedule. I love breaking down my life into a keep, and throwaway pile. Decluttering isn't just for throwing away your old Juicy tracksuits; it's for mentally deciding whether or not to get rid of unnecessary bullshit that's holding you back. Use your alone time to evaluate what's taking up your life and what you need to get rid of. Think about which tinder boy, if any, are worth an actual date. Think about what friends are taking from your energy and never giving any in return. Give all that excess shit away and clear up time for the things that are important to you.
I prefer to do this in the shower like a weirdo, but that's where I think best. Find your place and use your alone time to declutter your life and evaluate what you don't need anymore and what you can't live without.
4. Immerse yourself in something fictional.
Maybe it's just me, but after a super Real day, all I want to do is get lost in something not so real. Books are my not-so-guilty pleasure. The sappier and cringier the better.
But maybe you like to spend your alone time watching Youtube videos or reality tv. That's cool too. Just make sure you're taking the time to decompress with something that takes your mind off all the nonsense that might be going on in your life. Then after you de-stress and clear your head, start tackling whatever's causing that stress in the first place.
5. Research things you're passionate about.
Spending time researching things you're passionate about is one of the most beneficial things that you can do with your alone time. It's so beyond rewarding to learn more about your interests and develop your skills. Every day, I have ten things that pop in my head that I want to delve into later when I'm alone. It can be something you heard in class that you're interested in learning more about. Or new recipes to try out for your cooking blog. Or maybe research for a cool project you're working on. It can literally be anything. But make sure you're allocating the time for expanding your mind and investing in yourself.
For example, I've been writing a book for a while now, so a lot of my alone time is spent researching writing techniques and dialogue tips.
Another example is exploring possible careers or internship opportunities that you're interested in.
I'm also a lover of all things food so sometimes I watch cooking shows or find new restaurants I want to try online.
It can be anything, as long as you're interested in something. If you never have anything you desire to learn more about, then you need to find some passion. What's the saying? I think it's something like, "Once you stop learning, you start dying." Which is a little morbid but entirely true.
Invest in your future, your hobbies and your mental growth. If that sounds boring to you, then you don't have true passion for anything. All that alone time you spend learning is a thousand times more beneficial than spending it watching the final season of Gossip Girl; I promise you that.
Alone time might sound lonely at first, but choosing time for yourself can give you a much-needed break from the fast-paced world we live in. Use your time to find clarity, find your purpose and find yourself. It'll benefit you in the long-run.
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