Life today is hectic. You work at the office, work from home and even on your vacation. Not forgetting the effort it takes to maintain your personal and social life.
As technology advances and the world moves faster and faster, many people find themselves overwhelmed with trying to keep pace. You, like countless others, may find that you are drained mentally, physically and emotionally. You try to sleep but you just can’t seem to get enough rest or feel refreshed for an extended period of time.
It’s common practice and a popular theory that the best way to de-stress is by doing things we enjoy such as shopping, going on vacation, playing a sport or participating in a hobby-all of which can be beneficial.
Often times, being with friends and engaging with others, even in a “fun” environment can pull from our energy stores. Being alone and reflecting, connecting with and turning our attention inward is one of the best ways to not only recharge but to also identify and eliminate the unnecessary stressors in our lives.
Don’t be afraid to be alone sometimes.
Actively being Alone
Time alone or engaging in “me time” for many people means sleeping all day or engaging with others via social media or “Netflix and chillin’.” However there is a difference between merely being alone and actively being alone.
One is intentional and purposeful while the other is a matter of circumstance.
When we are choosing to actively be alone, we consciously set time for reflection and to simply be with our thoughts. This means unplugging from all social media, television and any form of external stimulus.
Journaling (by either writing down or audio recording) our thoughts is one of the most beneficial things we can do for ourselves during our “me” time. It allows us to focus on things that have caused us stress recently and to find a way to mitigate that stress moving forward. When journaling, we want to:
- Identify specific incidents that caused us to be upset or feel stressed.
- List all of the feelings we had associated with each incident – such as anger, disappointment, embarrassment, feeling unappreciated, etc.
- Write down how we overcame those negative feelings. What did we do to calm ourselves down, cheer up or move on? Were we able to resolve the situation? If so how?
- Write down ways that we can avoid the stressor altogether (whenever it is realistically possible) and steps we can take to resolve the situation and appease ourselves when we do become stressed.
- And last but most importantly, always end with a list of things you are grateful for. Research1 shows that maintaining an attitude of gratitude promotes and sustains good mental and emotional health.
Engaging in reflection and then journaling, provides clarity and de-clutters our thoughts. It allows us to sort, process and make sense of our feelings. It also helps us to create a plan for attacking negativity when it rears its ugly head.
Actively being alone allows you to be fully present in the now
Actively being alone helps us eliminate distractions. It allows us to be fully present and in tune with the now. It makes us conscious of what we are doing, feeling and thinking.
Worrying about the future, and being consumed with whether or not we will achieve our goals or create the life we’ve dreamed about makes us miss out on the beauty and opportunity that is in front of us, right now.
Learn how to be alone, and purposefully decide to love yourself enough to spend time with your thoughts. Once you’ve spent time processing your thoughts, you will find that your state of mind changes. Your mood improves and your outlook is better. Your loved ones will thank you for it and you will be a refreshed, better version of yourself.
Setting the stage for active alone time
In order for the refreshing to truly begin, we have to remove distractions. A great way to do this is to go to a quiet spot or sit amongst nature. Go to a beach, a wooded area or a quiet park tucked away and leave your phone in the car or turn it off, to eliminate the temptation.
If you can’t take an afternoon to get away, set aside the hour before you go to bed as your active alone time. Shut off all of your electronics, get in touch with you and record your experience.
If you have plans to go to lunch or shopping with friends during your free time, carve out time before or after to disconnect from the outside world and turn your attention inward. In time to come, it will be come a habit of nature.
Being alone is not synonymous with being lonely
There are always going to be moments where we are simply over saturated, and getting away for a week in the Bahamas to rest and recharge is not always an option. This is where we learn to make do, and create our own little oasis right where we are. We have to make time for ourselves. This should not be seen as a form of weakness where being alone equates to being a lonely person. It does not mean you cut off from your social circle and keep to yourself. Instead, it is a form of mental exercise that will not only refresh our minds, but help restore our spirits to give us the type of true rest that can keep us moving towards greater heights in life.