Finding solace in solitude
When people hear the word loneliness, they often associate it with a negative connotation.
Feeling lonely can be uncomfortable due to the social pressures of having friends to talk to and do activities with.
Alone time is looked down on because people are naturally social creatures. People desire companionship throughout their lives, so the thought of being alone can seem unnatural.
But being lonely is a frame of mind, because it’s more about feeling alone than actually being alone. It causes people to feel undesired by others, and it is this mindset that makes it even more difficult to venture out and seek human connection. In other words, loneliness can be a vicious cycle of self-punishment.
But there are ways to break the cycle and view alone time as a positive experience. One way a person can achieve this is by not considering alone time as isolation, but rather an opportunity for solitude.
Psychology Today defines solitude as a state of being in which a person is alone but does not feel lonely because they view themselves as adequate company. Their own companionship is enough for them because it creates an opportunity to self-reflect, relax and learn more about themselves.
Some activities that are done in solitude may include reading a book, doing art or analyzing a film.
Although both loneliness and solitude involve being physically alone, the main difference between them is that loneliness is involuntary while solitude is a choice.
Since loneliness is an involuntary feeling, it is typically a result of being rejected or abandoned by others. On the flip side, there is no feeling of rejection with solitude and people that welcome it in their life balance it with social interactions.
People are hesitant to be alone because they think others will see them and judge the fact that they are enjoying themselves without company. This is especially true when someone wants to find solitude by going to a public place, like a movie theatre or a park.
The health consequences of loneliness also drive people further away from experiencing solitude. Frequent loneliness can result in substance use, depression, stress and decreased memory.
But if a person can use their alone time for solitude, there are many benefits. Choosing solitude is a great way to regulate emotions because it gives someone time to talk with themselves, which also improves their social life as it can help them feel calm when they interact with others.
With that being said, it is difficult to train the brain to see alone time as a positive opportunity for growth rather than a time of isolation. In order to do so, people should take small steps to appreciate their time alone.
Here are some tips to help use alone time for solitude:
Take yourself out for dates
Taking yourself on dates is a great way to strengthen your self love. Going out alone to dinner, the movies or a cafe allows you to enjoy outings without depending on others to have a good time doing activities that are often considered social.
This can be a peaceful time to reconnect with yourself and also enjoy your own company.
Journaling or crafts
If you’re not quite ready to spend time alone in public, you can try doing creative activities in the comfort of your own home.
Journaling is a great private activity to regulate your emotions, self-reflect on what is bothering you or to express how your day was. There are a plethora of arts and crafts activities, so choose what calms you down the most.
You can do something challenging that stimulates your mind, since solitude can improve your creativity and confidence.
Spend time in nature
Spending time in nature has many mental and physical benefits. A minimum of 30 minutes outside a day can help with depression symptoms and lower your blood pressure.
This tip is beneficial whether you want to be alone in public at a park or hiking trail, or stay close to home by being in your backyard.
Spending time alone does not always need to be filled with activities. Just sitting down in the comfort of your home is also a valid way to reconnect with yourself. Ultimately, do what makes you feel the most happy and comfortable while solo.
About the author
Grace Nelson-Gunness is a reporter for Youth Mind. She enjoys watching Criminal Minds or reading a suspenseful horror-thriller novel while drinking a vanilla latte.