Sunday, 12 April 2020

The bright side of self-isolation: 10 benefits of being alone


Man walking through the trees
Image by |Rene Asmussen from Pexels

Back in the day, when I was in school, loneliness was synonymous with being uncool. If you were on your own, it meant that you were an outcast, shunned by society. Loneliness was an unwanted thing, to be avoided at all costs. The problem with these social ideas is that over time, your personal beliefs become infected by it. I viewed my loneliness as a symptom of failure - not an opportunity for growth.

The coronavirus pandemic has turned this social worldview of loneliness upside down. Self-isolation is a necessity. The need to stay at home means that we began spending more time in our own company.

Humans are social animals driven to interact and form connections in order to strive in life. According to research, loneliness can lead to mental health struggles and depression. Researchers argue that loneliness 'can make you sick' (Canli, 2017). To some extent, loneliness can feel devastating, especially if it is caused by abandonment.

There is a view that we need other people in order to strive and keep sane. That said, everyone is different, introverts may rejoice at the thought of isolation, in contrast, extroverts may find spending time alone far more difficult.

In this post, I will discuss how you can use loneliness as an opportunity for growth. I will also explore how to change your perspective about being lonely and challenge the belief that being on your own is a sign of failure.  I am here to show you that self-isolation is not all doom and gloom, there are many benefits of loneliness.




1. Loneliness can make you more mindful 


Social interaction definitely takes a lot of cognitive resources, being with others means that we have to pay attention to what they say and plan appropriate responses. This means that our attention is directed to conversations rather than the external environment. 

Even our internal thoughts may be abandoned. Social interaction is stimulating and may cause our attention to divert away from the little things. Loneliness can make you feel more mindful of your surroundings and improve your self-awareness of thought.


2. Being alone can teach you about yourself 


The self-awareness that comes with being alone, can teach you more about yourself - who you are deep down. When you are alone, this is when you are the most vulnerable. Vulnerability takes off all the masks that you wear in social situations.

It's important to learn about yourself, as self-understanding helps to guide personal development and growth. Social conditioning (the act of responding to socially accepted rules, in order to be accepted by others) can hide your real self. It's only during periods of loneliness that you can find yourself.


3. Alone time is an opportunity to learn new skills 


Self-isolation is a perfect opportunity to learn new skills that you have always wanted to learn or even enjoying hobbies that you may already have, 

Alone time gives plenty of time to practice and explore new possibilities. Plus, when you are alone, you may find it easier to do new things, because there is reduced external judgment. Less external judgment means less fear of failure! So what are you waiting for? This is the best time for exploration.


4. Being alone teaches you how to rely on yourself 


We are social animals, social interaction and social support are needed to maintain our well-being. Although, sometimes we may start to over-rely on others, without knowing how to rely on oneself, first. 

Spending time alone can help you to understand that you are fierce, that you can defeat the obstacles that are thrown your way, all you need is some self-belief. 


5. Alone time grows your trust in yourself 


When you are alone, the only person you have by your side is you. Alone time can teach you about yourself, in turn, this will grow your trust in yourself. It can show you that you are able to withstand challenges that come your way. 



6. Loneliness helps you to become your own friend 


Learning how to treat yourself with kindness is one of the best things that you can do. Mental health difficulties breed when you are not at peace with yourself. 

When you are alone, you can spend some time mending your relationship with your own self. Alone time can help you to find self-compassion. 


7. Alone time recharges your batteries 


Social interaction is exhausting! What better way to recharge than spending time in the company of no one but yourself. It's important to recharge your batteries, we don't have unlimited mental energy after all!


8. Loneliness can inspire greater creativity 


Another benefit of being alone is that alone time can inspire creativity. Self-isolation leaves us to our own devices when it comes to coming up with entertainment ideas. 

Alone time can be inspiring, it can trigger vivid thoughts in your head, that you can turn into beautiful pieces of art. Alone time puts people in a creative mood. 


9. Loneliness gives you time to think about your priorities 


Do you know what your plans are for the next 5 years? What about 10? Now you have the time to sit down and reflect on your plans and priorities. 

Self-isolation can help you to look deep down yourself as well as the environment around you. It can bring up the things that you want to change to light. Once you know what your priorities and plans are it will be easier to get to your goals. It will make you feel more in control. 

As much as we can't always choose what path life takes us, it's still nice to at least have some idea what direction we would like to head towards. 


10. Alone time can help you to appreciate others


Once you crawl back to society from your self-isolation cave, you will look at others in a different light. Spending time alone can help you to appreciate others and their company. It can help you to become a better friend who is able to genuinely listen to what others have to say


As you change your perspective of loneliness, loneliness will turn into solitude. Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely, it can aid your search for inner peace. You may feel disconnected and lonely even in the biggest crowd of people. I suppose loneliness and solitude are two sides of the same coin, it's all up to you which side you choose. I hope you have enjoyed this post! 



"Solitude makes us tougher towards ourselves and tenderer towards others. In both ways, it improves our character" - Friedrich Nietzsche 



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