Solitude – How to Benefit from Peace and Alone Time

Solitude is a period of time spent by yourself that is useful and purposeful.  It can be a very positive thing that helps you reinvigorate your spirit and make you a better person.  If you’re interested in improving yourself, your mind, and your relationships, then you’re in the right place!

Solitude is a chance to spend time with yourself, and it is a great thing for your mental awareness and sanity.  Benefits of solitude include relieved stress, improved creativity and empathy, and even stronger relationships with others.  Whether it’s done in nature, at home, in motion or in meditation-solitude could be the mental reset you need.

Have you been surrounded by people so much you feel like you need a break?  Are you thinking about spending some time with yourself alone-in solitude?

What Is Solitude?

Solitude is defined as a situation or state or being alone.  It’s time you spend by yourself and away from others.  It’s nice to have this time alone from time to time in order to help you reset, reinvigorate, and get to know yourself better.

However, solitude is different from loneliness because solitude is choosing to be alone to find peace or connect with oneself, whereas loneliness is an unintentional state of being alone. Solitude can be a way to recharge or find deeper meaning in one’s self or our relationships with others.

Watching the sunset - Solitude - Gone Minimal
Watching the sunset

Is Solitude a Good Thing?

Solitude, being alone and spending time with yourself, is definitely a positive thing.  This time alone can help you get to know yourself better, develop yourself, and become a better person.  There are many benefits to solitude:

  • Reinvigorate yourself
  • Reinvent yourself
  • Reset your mind
  • Improved concentration
  • Relieve stress
  • More mental awareness
  • Improved empathy
  • Improved gratitude
  • More creativity
  • Strengthened relationships

The activity you do in solitude is your choice-it may even be no activity at all.  This practice of solitude can actually improve your self-care as well as your ability to care for others.  Through solitude we can even improve our relationships with others while recharging ourselves.  Now let’s look at short-term vs. long-term solitude.

Short-Term Solitude vs Long-Term Solitude

Short term solitude can range in time from a few minutes in the bathroom to a week or two.  Sometimes all you need is 10-15 minutes locked away from family to calm, cry, think, even plan our next moves.  The length of time you need depends on what you need-if it’s a good cry, give yourself 30 minutes or so.

If it’s to calm yourself after dealing with a screaming infant, give yourself a couple of hours.  This time you need is determined by when you’re ready to move on to the next thing, or resume a previous activity. 

Long term solitude will last anywhere from a couple of weeks to even a month or more.  This is usually called for when you’ve been through especially hard times like the loss of a job or death of a loved one.  Sometimes long term solitude is even created by these types of losses.

These times it’s especially important to spend time alone to mourn losses, think of fond memories, re-center our spirit and prepare fully for moving on. 

Cooking a meal for yourself can be calming - Solitude - Gone Minimal
Cooking a meal for yourself can be calming

Solitude vs Loneliness

There’s one thing that separates solitude from loneliness, and it’s state of mind.  Loneliness is defined by isolation and a negative state-like something is missing or you’re incomplete.  Solitude just means you’re alone, but you’re not lonely.  Solitude is usually a positive state, it is useful in its purpose, and it has multiple benefits.

Examples of Good Solitude

If you’re still not convinced that solitude can be a good thing, that it’s too related to loneliness, let’s look at a few examples of good solitude:

  • Being on my own in my home helps me be creative.  I find joy in writing inspirational and educational articles.
  • Solitude when I’m gardening gives me time to think and plan and dream about plants and garden designs.
  • Being alone brings me peace and relieves my stress.
  • Solitude brings me inner sanctity and better mental awareness.
  • When I’m home alone, I think of the wonderful things in my life and it helps me be grateful.
  • When I’m driving alone, I’m inspired by the landscape and animals.
  • I need solitude when I meditate to find peace and re-center.
  • My alone time is my me-time.  I can care for myself in preparation for caring for others.

Doesn’t this sound inspiring and beneficial?  Now let’s look at how to work it into your own schedule.

Here is an informative video on the power of solitude and its benefits, things one might apply to living a more meaningful thoughtful life:

How to Plan More Solitude for Reflection

We all live pretty busy lives with our careers, work, homes, spouses or partners, kids and pets.  It can be difficult to find time to be alone and plan for self-reflection, so let’s talk about how to plan for more solitude.

  • Set aside a few minutes each day-day or night, whichever works better for your schedule.
  • Start with your morning coffee.  Rather than sit in front of the television watching the news, sit outside by yourself and breathe in nature.
  • When you wake up in the morning, don’t grab the phone-grab a journal and write down your dreams.  They’re probably trying to tell you something.
  • You know that time you spend playing games on your smartphone?  Rather than that, go for a walk and reflect.
  • Set your DVR to record your favorite show one night and meditate instead.  Your show will be there when you’re ready.
  • Use your drive time to work to think.  Turn off the radio and just think about your day, your week, your goals.
  • Put away social media for thirty minutes each day and meditate or reflect instead.
  • I’ll say it again-put down the smartphone!

How Solitude Can Help Introverts Recharge

As an introvert, I already spend a great deal of time alone because I find being around people to be exhausting at times.  However, as an extroverted introvert, I sometimes crave time with others.  After a day spent with people, it’s necessary to spend time in solitude to recharge my batteries and re-center.

This helps me calm my spirit, rest my thoughts, and recharge for the next event.  If you are also an introvert, you may find that solitude helps you as well when it comes to spending time with others.  Especially if you work in a social-type career (sales, entertainment, healthcare, civil service, etc.) and being social is part of your job, it can be powerful to utilize solitude to settle yourself down at the end of the day and prepare for another day.

What Is the Power of Solitude?

Solitude is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself.  This helps you not only re-center and reinvigorate, but gain a deeper understanding of who you are, what you like and dislike, and what you really want out of life. 

When you gain this deeper understanding you become a better person, better spouse/partner, better parent, and better colleague.  You have the power to care for yourself which leads to improved relationships with others as well as yourself!

Solitude helps create stronger relationships - Solitude - Gone Minimal
Solitude helps create stronger relationships

Examples of Real People and Solitude Preferences

I asked some family and friends what top 3 places they would want to be, and feel comfortable there seeking solitude for a period of time. Here is what they shared and what I learned from the poll:

PlaceTally of Family/Friends
My bedroom5
On the bike4
In the backyard4
In my car2
My office3
Bathroom2
Anywhere outside3
Gym1
Driving to work/shopping/errands3
Closet2
The park3
Walking in the neighborhood4
  

Other Resources:

Solitude, or spending time alone, is a necessity for some people for a mental reset and to reinvigorate their minds.  Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, solitude can be a powerful tool in your mental health toolbelt.  Try it today to improve your clarity, your creativity, and even your relationships.  How will you try it?

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