20 Reasons Spending Time Alone Is Essential for Your Health
Some quality "me time" might just be the best medicine around.
Too often these days it can feel like you’re inundated. Even when you’re taking a break from the hustle and bustle, thanks to social media and the all-hours culture of our modern existence, you’re never really taking a break. It all adds up, work and play and notifications and social commitments rolling together to create a tiresome mosaic of constant stimulation. Put another way: life can be exhausting. Which is why, every so often, you should steal a moment to yourself. Entirely to yourself.
Yes, scoring some quality “me time,” even if it’s just an hour or two a week, has been shown to enhance relationships, help folks prioritize responsibilities, and clarify lofty ambitions, like life goals and overall direction. It’s also been shown to help physiologically, and is a known method for improving your sleep habits and dialing back undue feelings of stress. But that’s not all! Herein, we’ve rounded up all the ways “me time” can help make you healthier, wealthier, and wiser individual. And for some stuff to in your newfound solitude, learn the 40 Best Hobbies to Take Up in Your 40s.
It Makes You Feel Rested
Succumbing to sometime-seclusion can be a good way to recharge and make yourself feel rested, says a survey of over 18,000 people living in 134 countries. The participants in the research were asked about a wide range of activities and told to note the ones that made them feel most rested. “Spending time alone” was the top choice, with “reading” and “being in nature” rounding out the podium. And for more ways to make the most of your nightly eight hours, learn the 10 Genius Tricks For Falling Back Asleep in the Middle of the Night.
It Squashes Stress
Being bored and alone shuts off the parts of the brain that promote heightened awareness, which can help lower stress, says research from the University of Rochester. The set of studies showed that just 15 minutes untethered from your digital device allows for better emotional control, with the authors writing: “people can use solitude, or other variations on being alone, to regulate their affective state.” And if you need help unplugging, learn the 20 Genius Ways to Kill Time without a Smartphone.
It Defeats Depression
It may seem counterintuitive, but being alone can actually help fight depression. Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that people who spend more time alone have lower risk of depression. The research showed that those who spent an “intermediate amount of time alone were better adjusted” and that solitude seekers reported less depression throughout their lives. And for more ways to maximize your happiness, don’t miss the 70 Genius Tricks to Get Instantly Happy.
It Bolsters Mental Strength
Most people get antsy or nervous when tasked with being alone for a long amount of time. In fact, a 2014 study from the University of Virginia showed that most people would rather shock themselves than spend time alone with their thoughts! But confronting uncomfortable situations, like pushing yourself to sit through extended periods of solitude, has been shown to increase mental strength.
It Makes You Happier
Want to get happy? Set aside time off for some alone says 2016 research published in the British Journal of Psychology. The study tracked over 15,000 adults and found that “individuals experience lower life satisfaction with more frequent socialization with friends.” The study showed that being alone had the biggest positive effect for more intelligent people. And for more on finding positive feelings, here are 50 Most Genius Happiness Hacks.
It Builds Greater Compassion
Taking time to hang out in isolation can have the character-building complement of boosting empathy, says a study conducted at Harvard University. Researchers found that sessions in solitude helped feel and better understand the experiences and plights of others, allowing them to delve deeper into compassion with real sincerity.
It Boosts Creativity
Studies have shown that practicing a type of “social withdrawal” can have a positive effect. Recent research published in Personality and Individual Differences showed that creativity is linked directly to turning within and becoming unsociable—not shyness or avoidance—for short periods of time.
It Improves Your Life
The myriad of improvements that can arise from being alone—better creativity, stronger relationships, less stress—all snowball together to make your entire life a better one. Getting in touch with your true thoughts, which are much easier to access while in seclusion, will give you a much fuller and fulfilled existence.
It Reboots your Brain
If you are always trying to impress people or constantly socializing, your brain doesn’t have the time to fully relax. Indulging in alone time with no distractions and demands on attention allows your brain to clear itself and focus on resting and unwinding the multiple threads that make up your daily life.
It Recharges your Batteries
Constantly being around people is a good way to feel exhilarated for the super extroverted, but it can also feel incredibly draining, no matter your personality type. Being alone allows you to regain your emotional bearings and recharge your energy stores. You’ll feel refreshed and full of verve, ready to get back out in the mix.
It Builds Self-Reliance
When you are surrounded by other people for a large part of your day, relying on them for advice, opinions, and assistance can lull you into a kind of emotional dependency that can keep you from being self-reliant. If you want to feel independent in your life, you need to have the assurance that being self-confident can bring.
It Boosts Problem-Solving
Sometimes when grappling with a particularly thorny problem at work, or trying to figure out a way to solve a quandary in your personal life, the constant din of other incoming information from other people or digital devices can keep the solution at bay. Taking time to be alone and let your brain mull over the problem with no other distractions can reveal the answer.
It Improves Concentration
Distractions and interruptions are constantly being thrown at you during the day, from the daily barrage of emails to requests from co-workers. When you set aside some serious alone time it can help cut out the majority of those disturbances, allowing you to better concentrate on a problem or work task.
It Increases Productivity
The improved concentration that solitude can give you will then often translate into your productivity being boosted. The ability to focus intently on a project when holed up all by yourself will permit greater gains and better insights. And for more ways to maximize your output, learn the 60 Best 60-Second Productivity Hacks.
It Sharpens Your Memory
Studies have shown that brain power can be bumped up by passing time by yourself, but checking out of society for a spell can also sharpen memory. Research out of Harvard found that when people are attempting to complete a task that they know is all on their shoulders, they will remember key details better than those who worked collaboratively. And for more ways to keenly hone your mind’s greatest asset, learn the 10 Ways to Develop a Photographic Memory.
It Helps You Find Your Own Voice
Group think—the phenomenon of people in a group allowing their opinions to turn toward a consensus—is real. When you’re always around a bunch of people it’s hard to separate yourself and find your own voice. Being alone gives you that break and allows deeper thoughts that probe your core being.
It Encourages Deep Thinking
The continuous churning of thoughts pinging through your brain that just are solely focused on simple everyday responsibilities can be overwhelming sometimes. Being able to consistently set allot some time to being alone can help your brain brush aside the barrage of baloney and let you think deeply.
It Hones Perception
Being forced into conversations and meetings and other group activities can often make it hard for people to step back and recognize details. Getting in some quiet time where you can think freely, without distractions, is a great way to allow yourself to step back and appreciate the details you may otherwise miss while around others.
It Fortifies Relationships
It’s hard to really know what you want out of life, and in tandem, out of a relationship. But being by yourself for periods of time can help you gain a better understanding of who you are. This self-knowledge is important for building a great relationship with your partner because learning about yourself is the first step for lasting love.
It Gives You Freedom!
Really the best part about being alone is that you can do whatever you want! When you earmark a day, or even a few hours, where you indulge in some seclusion and solitude, that time is for you. You can go where you want, eat what you want, and do what you want—no compromises tailored to other people’s desires.
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