Solitude Vs Loneliness – Learn the Benefits and Balance

Solitude can be a great thing at the end of a difficult day, but some might mistake it for loneliness.  We’re going to compare solitude and loneliness as well as the benefits of alone time.

Solitude is alone time you choose, while loneliness is a feeling when you’re alone and would rather not be.  It’s beneficial to spend some time alone for stress relief, strengthened relationships, and improved mental health.

Would you rather be around people or do you prefer time alone?  When you spend time alone, do you feel better or do you feel lonely?

What Is the Difference Between Solitude and Loneliness?

Let’s start with a couple of definitions.  Solitude is the time you spend alone, away from people, including friends and loved ones.  Loneliness is the feeling you get when you’re alone and wish you were with someone.  It’s like something (or someone) is missing, and you feel incomplete.  So the difference between solitude and loneliness is a feeling of being alone and whether it brings you peace or sadness.

Solitude is choosing to be by yourself, which can be a positive and enlightening experience. It is often sought after for self-reflection. Loneliness is an involuntary and negative emotional state arising from a perceived lack of social connections and can harm a person.

Solitude in the sunshine - Solitude Vs Loneliness - Gone Minimal
Solitude in the sunshine

How Is Solitude Different From Isolation?

When it comes down to it, we generally choose solitude.  We don’t necessarily choose isolation.  Isolation tends to have a negative connotation, like isolating someone with an infectious disease away from others to prevent the spread.  Solitude, like the game of solitaire, is something that can be enjoyed alone.  It can also lead to increased self-awareness, which gives us potential for growth and improved interpersonal relationships.

Benefits of Solitude

Solitude gives us a chance to refocus and recharge.  When we spend time in solitude, we can get to know ourselves better.  There are many benefits of solitude including some of the following:

  • Stress relief
  • Strengthen relationships
  • Increased gratitude
  • Improved concentration
  • Better mental health
  • Improved awareness (self and others)
  • Increased creativity

This is only a short list of benefits, but doesn’t it sound great?  The activity you do in solitude is your choice, and you can keep reading to get some ideas of potential activities.

Man smiling - Solitude Vs Loneliness - Gone Minimal
Man smiling

Why Do We Feel Loneliness?

Humans, by nature, are social creatures.  We enjoy being around others, whether platonically or romantically.  We are conditioned to seek out the company of others, especially those that are similar to us in interests and thought processes.  So from time to time when we don’t have other people around we feel lonely.  Or perhaps we’ve had a special someone in our life who leaves for a period of time. 

We were used to having them around consistently-and now they’re not there.  It can be difficult to lose the company of someone, whether it’s for a day or forever.  This can lead to the feeling of loneliness.  But there are ways of combating that feeling and making something beneficial out of it-there’s a great deal that can be learned from loneliness.

Examples of Activities for Solitude

There are many ways to spend time alone to bring you peace and rejuvenation.  Think about what you enjoy doing, as this will increase the chances of you doing this more often.  And this can make you a better all-around person!  Here are a few ways you can spend time in solitude and prevent loneliness:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Journaling
  • Reading
  • Gardening
  • Video games
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Exploring nature
  • Relaxation
  • Watch tv or movies

Which ones sound the most interesting to you?  Try one or more once a week (or more often if you want) to spend time in solitude and recharge your batteries.

Person camping with dog - Solitude Vs Loneliness - Gone Minimal
Person camping with dog

What Is There To Learn From Solitude and Loneliness?

There is so much to learn from solitude as well as loneliness.  Let’s take a look at each.

When we practice solitude we learn more about ourselves, what makes us happy, what inspires us, and how to recharge.  Solitude can also help us be more creative, think about and plan our future as well as our dreams, and appreciate ourselves and others.  Solitude can help us recharge and prepare for each day, or wind down after a long day.

Loneliness may just be a feeling, but we learn how much we love someone, how much someone means to us, as well as what kind of relationship we really want.  Even if we feel lonely, it doesn’t mean we’re alone.  Loneliness can also bring us motivation to do something new-like volunteer, make new friends, and go out and do something to push our boundaries.  We learn thankfulness, empathy, and gratitude with loneliness.  It also can prepare us for whatever happens next.

Group of friends - Solitude Vs Loneliness - Gone Minimal
Group of friends

Related Insights:

Does Solitude Cause Loneliness?

Because solitude is usually chosen, it doesn’t always cause loneliness.  However-sometimes we do experience loneliness with solitude, and that is perfectly natural.  And human!  Finding a relaxing activity to spend in solitude can sometimes help with feelings of loneliness, and perhaps even get rid of those feelings entirely.

How Do I Practice Solitude?

Choose an activity that you enjoy and can be done alone.  Spend time with yourself.  Get to know yourself better.  Whether it’s active (like exercise) or passive (like meditation), use the time to focus on yourself, your thoughts, your self-esteem, and your outlook on life.  Don’t focus on others-only on yourself.  Look at the activities above and think about which one (or ones) sounds like the most fun, and you may just find you love practicing solitude. 

This super helpful video below will help you to learn how to find solace in solitude.

How Do I Go From Loneliness to Solitude?

It’s all about your mindset.  Why do you feel lonely?  Are you missing someone, or the idea of someone?  Finding an activity that brings you peace and joy can always help with distraction and getting your mind off of feeling loneliness.  Creating something, practicing a hobby, spending time outside, or even learning something new can switch your mindset from loneliness to solitude.

Times and Moments Real People Have Enjoyed While Being Alone

I asked 5 friends and family to list 3 times/moments that they have enjoyed being alone and why. Here is what they shared and what I learned from the poll:

Moment/Activity Tally of Family/Friends
Watching tv2
Catch up with friends3
Social media2
Video games1
Driving to/from work2
Mental preparation3

Other Resources:

Solitude can be an absolute necessity for some people, and it doesn’t necessarily lead to loneliness.  Solitude can be the mental reset button you need.  You know when you need a break, so take the time you need for some alone time doing whatever activity you choose.  The time you spend with yourself is so beneficial there’s no reason to avoid solitude!  Which activity will you try first?

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