Some people are not comfortable just being in their own heads. In fact, for some, “no time” feels better than “alone time.” Yet, research now tells us that spending time alone can be good for us. Just like regular exercise and healthy eating is important for a healthy body and mind, so too is your own “me” space, where you can be at peace and simply reflect. Here are 11 reasons why it’s time to seek a little solitude.
No man is an island… true. Yet, there is definitely something to be said for being autonomous. Often, when people feel dependent, for whatever reason, they begin to feel lost, confused and needy — like they’ve lost a piece of their soul.
Creating a space that’s just for you, nourishes independent thinking. Some tasks and thought processes are best carried out alone. Your own private sanctuary is a great place to do that. Alone time makes you feel more confident in your actual ability to be alone. In turn, you won’t feel that burning desire for company or anxiety when you are alone.
Improves your memory
Research suggests that having your own space may help improve cognitive function, in areas such as focus and memory. That’s right, a little well-deserved alone time may actually benefit your brain. A Harvard University study proposes that people form more lasting and exact memories if they believe they’re experiencing something alone.
Helps reboot your brain
Always being “on,” leaves little time for your brain to replenish, suggests Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D. for Psychology Today. Our minds crave sanctuary from noise and overstimulation. If you remove as many distractions and interruptions as you can from your day by being in your own “space,” you’ll concentrate better, which in turn helps you to be more productive.
Brings out your creative side
To be your creative best, solitude is important. Even thought-provoking leaders such as Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak speaks of the importance of having a metaphorical room of your own, says the Harvard Business Review. Now, according to research, taking time out to clear a cluttered mind also feeds the creative mind.
Recently, neuroscientists discovered that we often get our best ideas when our attention is not fully engaged in our immediate environment or on a task. When we’re not focusing on anything in particular, our minds start to wander. Soon our mind ponders self-directed thought, which opens the door, so to speak, for creativity to enter — and that’s when big ideas can happen.
Makes for better relationships
If you want your relationships to work, you have to cultivate “me” time — plain and simple. Now, that doesn’t mean alienating your significant other. It just means being still in your own space and basically getting to know yourself, so that you can better understand others.
New research suggests that people who “center” themselves are more able to form real relationships and genuine bonds. It seems that the ability to be alone — and then reconnect with others — even on a daily basis, is one of the secrets to a successful relationship.
Makes you more empathetic
We all need empathy to connect and feel the emotions of fellow humans — and even animals. It’s all part of the human experience. Creating personal space, where you can just sit and enjoy your own company seems to enhance the ability to be compassionate.
Evidence is not conclusive; however, it seems that when we are alone in our own thoughts, the area of the brain focused on empathy and its ability to distinguish between our own feelings and those of others, becomes stronger. The emotional state and sensations intensify, allowing us to be more empathetic to others.
Allows you to unplug — literally
Social media is a wonderful thing. Apart from supplying us with endless amounts of useful knowledge, it also keeps us connected. So connected, in fact, that we now know things about friends and relatives that we never wanted to know. And of course, it doesn’t end there. Competition at work makes it increasingly difficult to unplug even when we get home.
Research at Kansas State University suggests it is really in our best interest to shut down and mentally recharge for the next day. Turn off your cell phone, smartphone, computer and television. Sit in your dedicated “me” space, unwind and flush out the mental chatter. You’ll probably sleep better, feel emotionally better, and be more alert the next day.
Regenerates your spirit
Your intimate space allows you to look inside yourself, ask questions with no judgment, and discover the path you need to take. By trusting your own insight, you’ll be surprised what tools are revealed, suggests Mahayana Isabelle Dugast Ph.D., in her book Anti-Aging Secrets: The Complete Self-Rejuvenation Manual for Conscious Men and Women (Strategic Book Group, 2011). It may come in the form of a book, healing workshop, or even a holiday, says Dugast.
Just like any other daily ritual — eating, washing, exercising — you need to take time to regenerate your spiritual self every day. When we fall out of touch with ourselves, our spirits become neglected. Creating necessary “me” space allows you to feel whole again and lights up your inner spirit.
You become present
Most of our time is spent thinking about the past or the future, rather than just experiencing the present moment. What we often do is pass through the moment on the way to somewhere else, and by doing so, we miss the moment itself. That’s how life passes us by. Staying present means staying here — in this moment. Doing so stops you from worrying about what’s passed or what will be. The concept is actually life-changing — but clearly, not without its challenges. Once again, your “me” space comes to the rescue.
Physically pulling yourself away from the daily grind and finding time to simply breathe helps you stay present. When you breathe and then exhale, what happens? Absolutely nothing, suggests Michael J. Formica MS, MA, EdM for Psychology Today. According to Theravāda tradition, the oldest of the Buddhist traditions, focusing on the out-breath is calming, because on the out-breath nothing happens. Everything falls away for a moment in time, keeping you present.
Allows you to reflect on life
Life can be challenging, frightening, happy and sad — a rollercoaster of emotions. Yet, when we take time to stop and reflect on life, try to figure out what works and what doesn’t, it’s almost impossible to hear our own thoughts. Constantly forging onward towards bigger-and-better things makes it easy to forget where we’ve come from, what’s working or what’s not working in our lives.
Even finding the time to sit and reflect can be challenging. But it’s extremely important to be able to sit alone in your own space and process your thoughts and feelings without having to figure out the thoughts and feelings of others. Without the bombardment of outside stimuli, you will focus inwards.
Encourages you to unwind
Life never stops. We have to move fast to stay on top, and that can be draining to our body, mind and spirit. Commitments, schedules and work, social and family demands can take a toll on our energy levels and positive outlook. Even when we lie down to sleep, our heads are still buzzing.
Creating a “me” space encourages you to relax, unwind, and to pursue interests that revolve around you. Research shows that men tend to prefer being alone outdoors while women seek “alone time” indoors. It doesn’t really matter where you create your “me” space, just as long as it’s a space that promotes rest and relaxation.
Humans are social animals. So, we positively need each other to be happy and productive. But we also need our own space to recharge, unwind and clear our heads. There’s nothing “new age” in that thinking. It’s a concept that’s probably been around since the dawn of humankind.
Katherine Marko is a freelance writer, author and blog creator. Her areas of expertise include food, health, style, beauty, business and nutrition. Marko holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, a diploma in photography, graphic design and marketing, and certification in esthetics.