Let's talk about something mental health-related for a second.
Learn to put down your phone and embrace your solitude.
Watch the sunlight, and how it delicately washes illumination over everything it touches.
Watch the clouds, see how they roll across the sky, morphing in and out of shapes.
Watch the birds, as they dive between branches and buildings, outsmarting gravity.
Learn to shut off your screen, listen to the sounds that surround you.
Hear the laughter of a couple, as they stroll along the cracked sidewalk.
Hear the rush of air past your ears, perhaps a warm spring breeze, perhaps a bitter winter wind.
Hear the hum of cars passing by, each with their own unique destination.
"Alone time" isn't understood as it should be. It's such a rewarding, healthy experience— whether it's for five minutes or two hours. Alone time doesn't mean sitting in your dorm or room while scrolling through endless photos on Instagram, digging through the stories and posts on your Facebook feed, tapping through everybody's stories on Snapchat.
Alone time means it's only you and yourself, and it can often take place in public settings.
It might be uncomfortable for some, especially extroverts and those who maybe feel insecure being faced with the reality of themselves. But this is exactly why it's important. You will learn about your own unique, beautiful self in ways that social media and society will prevent you from seeing.
Social media influences us much more than we realize. It injects little subconscious beliefs and thoughts into our brains about what we should look like, act like, be like. It is so full of other people that it can't possibly show you who you are. That's why it's so important to take time to distance yourself from it at least once a day. Who you are is entirely inside of yourself. Finding who you are requires reflection and solitude, even if it means sliding into a cozy corner chair inside your local Starbucks and simply letting your surroundings wash over you.
Notice the people and scenes around you - notice how they make you feel or what they make you think. Then go a level deeper. Why do they make you feel such a way? Why do they make you think the things you do? Keep questioning yourself without any judgment upon your own answers. This might take a little time to understand or master, but it can help you understand or discover your own moods, personality, and internal conflicts. It's incredibly helpful because you'll find your awareness skyrockets and you'll be able to see how situations and people are affecting you on a daily basis.
If that level of effort sounds God-awful to you, good news! Alone time is even more diverse than this.
Think of hobbies or talents you might have that don't involve the use of your cell phone, messaging, social media, or internet.
Draw, read, write.
Play the piano, strum your guitar, sing your favorite song.
Run outside, go to the gym, practice your favorite yoga flow.
All of these things can be incredibly meditative, and amazing for your mental health. Simply stepping away from the influence of society, including your friends and family, will open up a world of healing for your mind.
This isn't to say that social media is evil—trust me, I'm quite addicted to it. Which means I know I need to take breaks from it, to remind myself of who I am, what I like, and how I'm feeling when nobody and nothing are telling me how to feel.
Find what kind of alone time you love and practice it. Make it a routine, maybe before bed, maybe during a break in-between classes. Find when and what works for you, because it's your time to be wonderfully selfish.