Benefit from being happy and alone

Everyone spends some time alone in their day or life, but some people find it more challenging than others. Studies, however, suggest being in solitude have benefits such as reduced stress, enhanced creativity and improved concentration. What is interesting, is that some people would rather have any kind of stimuli (even if it is negative), than to be alone with their thoughts. Aug2016_Article_3_k.png

We are exposed to all kinds of continuous stimuli during the day. This causes individuals to associate ‘being busy’ with meaningfulness. When they are alone, it may trigger fear and anxiety about the lack of meaning in their lives.

It is important to know that being alone is not the same as being lonely. Loneliness can have serious health risks while a certain amount of alone-time can be good for you.

Here’s how you can benefit from quality time spent alone:

Start small

  • The ability to be alone is a skill that can be learned. If you are new to the idea, start by committing a small amount of time to be alone.
  • Eat a meal by yourself once a week.
  • Avoid all technology until after your morning shower; or
  • Refuse to read the newspaper for the first 10 minutes of breakfast.

Practice mindfulness

Concentrate on what you’re doing at the moment, even if it is just walking. Try the following:

  • When you’re washing your hands, focus on each finger from top to bottom.
  • Take note of the water temperature and how the water feels.

Focus on breathing

  • Focus on a single reference point such as the in-and-out motion of breathing; it can clear the mind of other thoughts.
  • Deep breathing can have a calming effect. Being by yourself can cause anxiety and fear which in return increases your heart rate. By using deep breathing as a technique, it activates the nervous system that slows the heart rate down.

Don’t let your mind wander too much

  • Your mind is always thinking and sometimes wanders more often than you would like.
  • Do not invest too much into wandering thoughts. If a thought jumps into your head, recognise it, label it, say for instance ‘that’s a thought about what my colleague said to me today”, and then let it go.

Get creative

If external stimuli are needed, you can always:

  • Listen to music.
  • Tap into your creative side and draw or paint something. By doing this, you’re expanding your brain and might even be surprised by your talent.

Write a letter

Putting thoughts to paper might be pleasantly rewarding.

  • Write a letter to someone you care about, it can be fun and relaxing.
  • Write a letter to yourself. You can imagine where and who you will be in five or 10 years, think about what you would say to the future you.

Your end goal is to spend enough time alone every day so that you feel comfortable doing it for longer periods of time. By spending time alone and being okay with it, generates a sense of well-being. It takes a while and might be uncomfortable in the beginning, but it gets easier the more you practice.



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