When I suggest spending a few minutes alone to clients in my therapy office, I often hear comments like, “I’m too busy to make time for myself,” or “I can’t sit still. I need to be productive.”
Inserting a little solitude into your overfilled schedule isn’t a waste of time, however. And the busier you are, the more likely you are to benefit from some quiet time. A multitude of studies tout the benefits of solitude. Here are just a few science-backed reasons for spending more time alone:
1. Alone time increases empathy.
When you spend time with a certain circle of friends or your co-workers, you develop a “we versus them” mentality. Spending time alone helps you develop more compassion for people who may not fit into your inner circle.
2. Solitude increases productivity.
Although many offices have started creating open floor plans so everyone can communicate more easily, studies show that being surrounded by people actually kills productivity. People perform better when they have a little privacy.
3. Solitude sparks creativity.
There’s a reason a lot of authors or artists want to go to a cabin in the woods or a private studio to work. Being alone with your thoughts gives your brain a chance to wander, which can help you become more creative.
4. Being alone can help you build mental strength.
We’re social creatures, and it’s important for us to have strong connections with other people. But solitude is essential to building mental strength. Studies show the ability to tolerate alone time has been linked to increased happiness, greater life satisfaction, and improved stress management. People who enjoy alone time experience less depression.
5. Solitude may reduce behavior problems in kids.
When you carve some solitude into your schedule, you show your children that being alone is healthy. Research shows that kids who learn to be by themselves are better behaved than other children, so be a good role model and teach solitary skills early.
6. Being alone gives you an opportunity to plan your life.
Most people spend a lot of time planning weddings and vacations, but never plan how to get the most out of life. Spending time alone can give you a chance to ensure there’s a purpose to all of your hustling and bustling. Quiet space provides an opportunity think about your goals, your progress, and the changes you want to make.
7. Solitude helps you know yourself.
Being alone helps you become more comfortable in your own skin. When you’re by yourself, you can make choices without outside influences. And that will help you develop more insight into who you are as a person.
Create Time to Be Alone
Just last week, someone said to me, “I don’t have a problem with alone time at all. In fact, I crave it. I often dream about being alone on a deserted island.” Well, if you find yourself daydreaming about being alone on a deserted island, I’m going bet you aren’t incorporating enough alone time into your life. Set aside a few minutes each day to be alone with your thoughts — just 10 minutes a day can help. Silence your electronics, and allow yourself to think for a few minutes.
If you aren’t used to solitude, it can feel uncomfortable at first. But creating quiet time for yourself could be a key to becoming the best version of yourself.