18 Unexpected Ways Being Alone Can Enhance Your Life

After the isolation of the pandemic, it may be hard for some to think of spending more time alone. However, science shows that spending some time alone, even for ten minutes a day, can enhance your life. Here are 18 ways you can enhance your life by taking a little “me” time.

Self-Discovery

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When you’re always surrounded by people, sometimes it’s hard to see where they end and you begin. When you take time away from everyone else, including your phone, you allow yourself time to reflect on what you want from life, and your hopes, fears, and aspirations.

Understanding Independence

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If you always have someone around, it’s easy to use other people as a crutch. Being alone gives you the chance to find out your limitations and capabilities and become more self-reliant.

Development of Emotional Resilience

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Emotional resilience is the ability to adapt, bounce back, and cope with adversity and stress. Embracing being alone allows you to sit with your emotions. When you sit with your emotions, you’re better able to process them and deal with them when uncomfortable emotions show up in your outside life.

Freedom to Pursue Personal Interests

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There’s no need for external validation when you spend time alone. This promotes pursuing personal interests, whether people approve or not. Go ahead and start learning to knit, or whatever else you’ve secretly been dying to try.

Heightened Creativity and Productivity

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Slinking away to a secluded cabin is the most cliché thing about authors, but there’s a reason it is. Finding a private space can boost creativity and help you focus without the distractions of everyday life. Studies consistently show people perform better when they have privacy

Improved Relationships

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When couples are around each other constantly, they begin to take on each other’s traits and habits. Some even begin to look a little alike—eek. Taking some time to be alone can help you understand yourself better. When you understand yourself as a whole person alone, you can show up as a better version of yourself in your relationships.

Enhanced Empathy

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We’ve all seen and been a part of cliques before—the “us vs. them” that comes with being a part of a tight-knit social group. Though this isn’t always intended, we develop less empathy for people who don’t fit into our social circle. Spending time alone breaks down those barriers.

Opportunity for Reflection

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Always being on the go and in a crowded room allows little time for self-reflection. Taking a few minutes at the beginning or end of the day to sit alone in silence gives us the mental space to reflect. It’s a good idea to set our intentions, learn from our day, and know what steps to take to be better than we were the day before.

Exploring Nature

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A 2019 study found people who spent at least two hours in nature over a week were much more likely to report greater well-being and health than those who spent no time outside. Whether you take a short 10-minute walk around the block or set out for a hike in the woods, connecting with nature in solitude can calm the nervous system and reduce stress.

Cultivating Mindfulness

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“Humans are social beings, hardwired to be connected to others. At the same time, it’s important to learn how to tolerate and even appreciate alone time in extended periods,” says Heather Z. Lyons, Ph.D., psychologist and owner of Baltimore Therapy Group in Maryland. Practicing mindfulness can bring greater self-awareness and inner peace.

Strengthening Decision-Making Skills

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Making decisions without outside influences is immensely easier when you’re alone. You get the opportunity to sit down and weigh your options, deliberately map out your choices, and make a decision that’s right for you. No more following what others choose for you.

Fostering Independence in Activities

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We can become reliant on having other people to do things with, which means when everyone else has plans, we often sit at home. It can be uncomfortable at first, but learning to do things on your own allows you to always have a friend with you—you. Plus, you can do things you enjoy even when you have no other friends interested in that activity.

Deepening Spiritual Connection

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Vision quests are always done solo—no mindless chatter of other participants. “Silence is now acknowledged by science as a significant construct of healthy human development and well-being, linked to humans’ neurobiology, psychology, physiology, and spirituality,” according to a paper by Ofra Mayseless and Lia Naor.

Promoting Personal Growth

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We all have things we need to work on—past trauma and habits we need to break. We also have things we want to learn to further our careers and personal relationships. Alone time creates the space for us to water ourselves and grow.

Cultivating Gratitude

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End each day with moments of gratitude. Thanking the universe/God/spirit for the good things in our lives, great and small, is proven to increase personal life satisfaction. Creating a gratitude journal also gives you something to look back on when you’re feeling less than grateful.

Improving Focus and Attention

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In a quiet environment, your mind is encouraged to focus on what matters. Practicing time alone to clear your thoughts through meditation—guided or just moments in silence—can help reprogram your brain to focus on the task at hand and give your undivided attention to those around you, once you come out of your hermit mode.

Reducing Stress and Anxiety

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Studies suggest that time alone and showing self-compassion can decrease anxiety and depressive thoughts. Remember that loneliness is distinct from solitude. Loneliness is associated with a higher risk of depression, according to research published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

Strengthening Self-Acceptance

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Spending time with yourself can actually make you like yourself and increase your confidence. Without the judgment and opinions of others, you have the ability to reflect on who you are versus the perception others have of you. Stand firm in your values and reassure yourself of what you bring to the table.

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