Alone Time is a Key for Happiness
Sorry friends, I’m busy tonight. I have a long-standing Monday night date with myself. While this may sound weird to some of you, spending time alone, taking time for yourself, and doing activities alone actually have many psychological, creative, stress-relieving, and confidence building benefits. In a society where we are hardly ever alone, not even in the bathroom or in bed, because of the limitless reaches of texting, email, and social media connections and updates, a little me-time is more important than ever.
You don’t need to make a date with yourself to benefit from time alone, but it may help to put your phone on silent and really enjoy the freedom of doing whatever you feel like. If you’ve been feeling worn out and need to recharge, read on to see if me-time is something that could be a remedy to those angsty winter blues.
Boost Creativity and Get More Done
According to psychologist Keith Sawyer, from Washington University in St. Louis, people actually come up with far more ideas on their own than in groups. You may have thought that brainstorming sessions with your colleagues would create the most ideas, but in reality when people are alone they come up with way more suggestions.
In a study reported on at Entrepreneur.com, the most productive workers said they had work spaces free from interruptions, while the least productive workers were much less likely to say the same. Spending time without interruptions by yourself can help you to be more productive, whether you’re at work or just trying to finish that painting you’ve been working on over the weekend.
This mostly applies to teens, but studies found that spending an “intermediate” amount of time alone, even if they didn’t find it enjoyable, alleviated feelings of depression. Possibly this allowed the teens some time to reflect on social experience and enjoy their own hobbies without worrying about the feelings or ideas of others. But, in this age of interconnectedness, it might do us all some good to stop comparing our lives constantly on social media and reflect on our experiences or do things we like without worrying about others.
When you spend time alone, you get to know yourself better, and in turn can increase your ability to be empathetic as well as increase your emotional intelligence. It is thought that the area of the brain that corresponds to empathy, called the right supramarginal gyrus, is strengthened when we spend time alone. This may be because a huge part of this brain segment’s job is differentiating between our own feelings and the feelings of others. It could be that with this ability to better define our own feelings, we can more easily understand others, or step into others’ shoes.
Nurture Good Relationships
As much as we’d like to be attached at the hip to our significant others, research (and personal experience) has found that me-time can improve relationships. By taking time for yourselves, you are able to cultivate your own hobbies and interests. This increases your own confidence, sense of happiness and interest in your life, and makes you a more all around interesting person.
Get to Know Your #1 (Yourself!)
Spending time alone may seem daunting, or boring, or really lame (but what does that say about how you see yourself?!) But how else will you know about you if you don’t spend time doing things alone, listening to your own thoughts and preferences, and enjoying your own company. Doing activities alone can help you build confidence and even help you create stronger memories, according to an ongoing Harvard study which has shown that when people do things alone they form stronger memories of the event than shared events.
This reason alone should inspire you to do something by yourself this week. When you’re alone you are only constrained by your own preferences or needs. There’s no waiting on someone else, making compromises about anything, or worrying about if someone else is having fun or is annoyed or wants to do something else. It’s all about you. If you’re really brave, take a trip alone! Enjoy doing all the things you want to do with no limitations. If you’re stuck in town, go get some food yourself, bring a book, block off the afternoon. Spend some time doing exactly what you feel like. This can help you recharge your batteries, get in touch with your own thoughts, needs, and ideas, and even help you to be more relaxed when you go back to the company of others.
Put down your phone. Disable your Facebook and Snapchat notifications, and give your presence to the one person you will be around for the rest of your life: you. Increase your creativity, spark your inspiration, get to know your own preferences, and make a memory alone. It could help you to better your relationships and give you a new kind of rest to be a more satisfied and relaxed person. Who knows, you may enjoy doing things alone more than you think.