Coming out of a global pandemic, just recently many people were spending a lot of time alone – during lockdown, in quarantine, … We are speaking about imposed alone time here. When actually choosing to be alone, there can be a fear involved as most of us have never been encouraged and taught to be on our own – it might feel uncomfortable. Being by oneself is not what society expects, right!? While being alone we do not socially engage.
Seeing it from a different perspective, in our busy daily lives, there are barely any moments in which we are not surrounded by other people – being alone can be a luxury.
Why knowing how to be alone is beneficial
Initially, the idea of being alone can be scary. Once you get comfortable with your aloneness, there will be space for self-development and growth as an individual. You can then drop your ‘social guard’ and reflect and think on your own without anyone external interfering – By finding out who you are and what you want for yourself, you might be able to make better choices and decisions, and therefore also be a more stable partner within your relationships and friendships.
Being alone offers a certain level of freedom – You can do whatever you feel like without experiencing pressure from others. On a spiritual level, you get closer to your inner being, your creative and intuitive parts.
Alone time can include a lot of self-care and focusing on what feels good for you: healthy cooking, exercise or yoga, meditation or mindfulness rituals, walking in nature and taking it all in, …
Being alone without feeling lonely – that’s the idea!
Many people link being alone with being isolated and ‘outside’ of society. Being alone and being lonely, however, are two different things. When feeling lonely, we are looking for someone or something missing that gives us comfort and makes us feel secure. Once we become comfortable with being alone every now and then, loneliness won’t be an issue.
So how to learn to be alone?
The short answer is: by practicing. We need to remind ourselves that learning to be alone is a process – step by step. In the beginning:
Start small and don’t force it
Ask yourself when being alone would actually be possible in your daily routine, plan 10 minutes wherever you can, and extend the time slowly. It might be helpful to use this time away from your social media channels and the phone in general.
Keep yourself busy
Being alone does not have to be boring and quiet. Release some endorphins while exercising your body and listening to music – it will boost your energy and self-esteem. You don’t know yet what would make you happy?
Try this new hobby you have been thinking about and check out new places you haven’t been to before – these can be in your area.
Take yourself on a date.
Go for dinner or a movie at the cinema. If that feels too big for the beginning, have a coffee break in a café, and notice how many people around you are actually doing the same!
Once you become more comfortable being alone:
Put yourself out there
It will become easier to go to events alone and follow your interests without depending on whether someone is coming with you or joining.
Let your mind wander
This is easier said than done as we usually have our day planned out and something is always next on the agenda, right? What happens if you just sit or lay down and let your thoughts take you away?
Check in with yourself about how far you have come once in a while, what you are grateful for, which choices you have made while being alone, and how you manage to take care of yourself.
It is okay to not get it right straight away. If you experience difficulties in being alone after trying for a while and maybe even experience anxiety and depression, reach out for professional support.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Franziska Richter is a transcultural counsellor with the Willingness Team, offering counselling sessions to individuals and couples. She is particularly interested in sexuality, relationship issues, trauma and general mental health.