Craving 'me time'? Why spending some time alone can be beneficial for your mental health
Updated: Jun 30
Welcome to my blog page of 2023. Throughout this year we'll focus on emotional issues that affect most of us from time to time - and see how counselling therapy can help.
We all recognise that positive social interactions boost our wellbeing. Meeting with friends can be a real tonic. But what about spending time alone? What are the gains?
Being alone is not the same as being lonely. Loneliness is an unwelcome state during which we feel disconnected or isolated. It can leave you feeling dissatisfied with life. It is often linked with being alone or spending considerable lengths of time alone. We know that long periods of isolation can affect mental health, causing anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and stress.
Loneliness can leave you feeling disconnected and dissatisfied with life.
Research suggests that chronic loneliness can be detrimental to both mental and physical health, impacting longevity. This may explain the stigma around loneliness, which makes it difficult for sufferers to seek help.
When you are feeling lonely you may be yearning for companionship or grieving the loss of it.
When you are feeling lonely you may be yearning for companionship or grieving the loss of it. But loneliness can also be experienced whilst in the company of others. It is possible to feel alone or disconnected when you are with those you know and love.
But what if you are experiencing similar feelings, not because you feel lonely but because you long for time alone? As with loneliness, this, too, can lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and stress.
Social pressure to spend time with others when you're not feeling so inclined can be a strain.
Social pressure to spend time with others when you're not feeling so inclined can be a strain. You may feel that your commitments and responsibilities leave no room for you.
You may find yourself being persuaded to go with the flow or to put the needs of others before your own. But how do you deal with the exhaustion that follows or with the frustration of having run out of time to meet your own needs?
Spending time alone does not necessarily indicate that you are lonely. Time alone can put you in touch with yourself, help to regulate your emotions and boost your creativity.
Spending time alone does not necessarily indicate that you are lonely. Time alone can put you in touch with yourself, help to regulate your emotions and boost your creativity. And, by investing in yourself, you'll enrichen the time that you spend with others.
Begin to make more time for yourself
Take a moment to breathe. Two to five minutes can work wonders. You could use an online app for this.
Allow yourself pockets of time throughout the day. Make a drink, gaze out of the window, stretch, listen to your favourite track, complete a quick quiz.
If you can, opt for walking instead of using public transport. Every now and then, take a detour on your way home.
When running errands, add something to your to do list that's just for you, Like stopping for a coffee, a walk through the park, a visit to the library, making a small purchase or window shopping.
Lunch alone at least once a week.
Plan a date with yourself.
Set yourself an end time for your working day and try to stick to it.
Limit your availability. Block out time on shared calendars. If you can, have your phone on silent for at least 30 minutes during the day.
If you're struggling to make time for yourself, you can get help to avoid overwhelm and possible burnout, and strike the right balance for you. Counselling support can help you work through any difficult feelings you may have. A counsellor can also help you reconsider your lifestyle choices and establish a routine that allows more time for you.