THE IMPORTANCE OF ALONE TIME
Those of us who have had to embrace the idea of working from home have either relished it or have realised our worst nightmare. Depending on who we are, the idea of being alone can sound like a dream or fill us with dread, which becomes especially complicated during the festive season, when we often yo-yo between feeling socially overwhelmed or extremely isolated. But love it or hate it, solitude is an important way of resetting our inner clocks, emotions and patterns – and much needed when we need to close the book on a year that, for better or worse, may have left us somewhat depleted. And sometimes, getting away – even if it’s through a spell of armchair travel – is the best way to re-evaluate our lives and discover what’s really important to us. So, how does solitude help us reconnect with ourselves?
IT SAYS YOU VALUE YOURSELF
If you choose solitude wilfully – not as a general lifestyle, but just a few hours, a day, or a week – it means you allow yourself what has commonly become known as “me-time”, that all-important component of self-care. And although some might see it as a luxury or an act of narcissism, resist the urge to feel guilty about taking time out. Rather than see it as a selfish pursuit, see it as time set aside for building yourself up. When you feel stronger and value what you have to offer, you’re of so much value to the ones you love.
IT MAKES YOU MORE RESILIENT
We tend to attach a certain fear to being alone, sometimes irrationally so. Some experts believe that stems from our fear of boredom, which would have kicked in somewhere during our childhoods. The thing is that boredom is considered one of the most important emotions in our human development. It triggers feelings of dissatisfaction, restlessness, and fatigue – all negative emotions – which in turn, sends our survival instincts into overdrive. In fact, most of your best survival decisions were born in a state of boredom. But rather than find quick fixes to being bored, like binge-watching or infinite scrolling, cash in on the time by considering the things you would most like to change about your life, write it down, and list solutions. You might just find yourself embarking on a new hobby or career.
IT LETS YOUR BODY CATCH UP WITH YOUR MIND
That brain of yours is a miraculous thing – sparking thoughts, firing neurons – all while keeping your body functioning and seeing you through another day. Give yourself a high five! The trouble is that your brain can so easily run away from you, which often results in feeling disconnected from the world and ourselves. When you allow your brain to rest, it triggers a physical chain reaction in your body where first your muscles relax, then your heart rate slows down, and your blood pressure drops. Soon, your body starts releasing an antidote to the adrenaline coursing through your veins, at which point your body and mind start to find each other again, until they are in perfect sync. And then, your creativity kicks in and you feel a surge of inspiration to change the world!
In the end, how often we need to isolate ourselves – whether to reset, reconnect with or reinvent ourselves – is an incredibly personal journey. There is no one-size-fits-all template, and certainly nothing that works equally well for all. Knowing what you need depends on you and your ability to read the signals – to know when you need to plug out and find that alone time. But never underestimate the importance of making time for yourself, and never fear a spell of boredom.