Protecting Your Mental Health through Peaceful Alone Time
"In solitude there is healing, speak to your soul, listen to your heart…sometimes in the absence of noise we find answers!" - Dodinsky
Many times, being alone is meshed with being lonely; the two are most distinct. Loneliness is often times founded in suffering and implemented isolation. Solitude however, is the willing engagement of an individual in quality self-reflection and ability to return to desired socializing when ready. A person who can find rich self-experience when in solitude is far less likely to feel lonely when alone. (Thomas Merton, “Thoughts on Solitude”).
There are several benefits to granting yourself peaceful time alone. It is a direct way of self-strengthening, and facilitates creativity, organization, rejuvenation and problem solving. In solitude one can find these “Ah-ha” moments free from judgment and limitations. When permitted deeper inward reflection, one can develop invaluable understanding of one’s needs, wants, triggers, and emotions. This knowledge leads to greater decision making, improved self-esteem through enhanced purpose, and it also enables superior empathy for oneself and others leading to better quality relationships. Another significant benefit is that alone time allows for rejuvenation of one’s energy, akin to the need to sleep to resolve physical wear and tear.
Unplugging from the constant bombarding of demands and information in our technologically instituted world is mandatory to relieve stress and alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, toxicity such as addictions and negativity from all types of relationships.
With our overwhelming schedules and a society that seemingly frowns upon being alone as it pushes through all mediums the need to belong, be in the know, and be part of, it is difficult to find alone time. The following are several things that one could try to have their necessary self-care.
When first starting to carve out alone time, start small and slow. Try having lunch by yourself, away from your desk where you get to enjoy your meal in reflection. Get up or get in half hour earlier, to give yourself some “new” time to be to yourself, where others have not started to infiltrate your day or have ceased any demands for the day. The ability to be alone is a learned skill (Sherry Bourg Carter, PhD, Sociologist,) and so it takes time to fully implement.
Start to really be aware of one’s actions (Kimberley Wulfert, Clinical Psychologist). Smell the cup of coffee or tea in the morning, feel the warmth of it, the texture of its taste, how it feels to drink it. Mindfulness encompasses engaging all senses and being consistently aware of them.
Focus on your Breathing
The power of solitude can sometimes be overwhelming at first, so it is beneficial to attain mastery of one’s breathing. One central focal point such as the in-and-out motion of breathing can help rid the mind of excessive thoughts, as well as deeper breathing is calming.
Find hobbies or interests that tap into your creative, playful side such as colouring, reading, listening to an entire musical album. Try do-it-yourself activities for improving things around your home. Try cooking a meal for yourself that you love.
Create a Personal Space
This could be a corner or a room - but it should be somewhere that brings you joy and is free from disturbance. Somewhere that once you are there, it limits any interference from others or the outside world. This space should allow you to unplug from everything; television, computer, phones. Make this space comfortable and decorated with things you like, colours you like. Let it be your “me-space”.
There are many apps or sites that can provide guided meditations. Start off with smaller times such as 15 minutes of daily meditation, and then expand as you become more skilled. Apps like Headspace and Calm have been positively reviewed.
Writing removes inhibitions of judgments and thoughts and is a form of ventilating challenges. It is a great medium of communication with one’s thoughts and needs. Writing allows for the confrontation of seemingly insurmountable obstacles in a more calming way.
These are but a few ways to accomplish solitude. There are many more ideas that can be found.
Invest in yourself, find the best way that suits you to have your alone time. The power of solitude is only understood when it is embraced. It is time for you to start calling social bankruptcy to your demands, to get the alone time that is your mental health’s lifetime necessity.
About the Author
Petra V. Ramsubhag, MSc., BSc. (Hons)
Petra Ramsubhag is a Clinical Psychologist predominantly working with St. Dominic’s Children’s Home. She conducts individual and group therapy sessions with the children at the institution, all of whom have either been physically, emotionally or verbally abused and/or neglected.
Her sessions are grounded in the tenets of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy but are inclusive of play therapy, narrative therapy, art therapy, and sand tray therapy, while being trauma informed. She is passionate about working with children and adolescents as she sees them as the true change agents for the future and a daily reminder to be grateful for life’s blessings.
If you have any questions, contact Ms. Petra Ramsubhag at email@example.com
or 1(868) 625-7081/ 624-7882 ext 147