Hey there —
The request “table for one” has been known to incur some serious social side-eye. 👀
But, aside from the fact that we should really stop throwing shade at single folks, the idea that being alone with yourself is a totally negative experience — and therefore, something to avoid — couldn’t be further from the truth.
That’s why this month, we’re encouraging you to build a daily habit of spending 15 minutes alone.
It may sound ironic, given that many would argue our modern society is more disconnected than ever, but most of us would actually benefit from spending more quality time…with ourselves.
The emphasis is on that word quality — because let’s be honest, nobody needs to spend more time scrolling on their phone or watching Netflix. But spending time with your own thoughts is a daily habit that has the potential to improve nearly every area of your life.
As psychiatrist Anthony Storr says in his book, Solitude: A Return to Self:
Psychologists Christopher Long and James Averill describe this kind of solitude as “disengagement from the immediate demands of other people — a state of reduced social inhibition and increased freedom to select one’s mental or physical activities.”
In other words, alone time is about more than being by yourself — it’s releasing yourself from the demands and expectations of others and embracing the freedom to do whatever you want.
But the opportunity to self-reflect and escape from external pressures aren’t the only benefits to taking dedicated “me time.”
☺️ Research shows that intentional alone time improves your mood and helps you feel more even-keeled by leveling out your “high arousal” emotions (which we promise is way less dirty than it sounds).
🤯 Time alone can also boost your creativity and productivity by drowning out distractions and helping you access your default mode network (aka, the part of the brain most likely to produce your next million-dollar idea).
🥳 And the calming effects of alone time + the opportunity to recharge = more energy to engage with people when it is time to socialize.
The good news is, you don’t need to take off on a solo wilderness excursion to reap these benefits. As little as 15 minutes of solitude can do the trick — whether that’s going for a walk or just finding a few moments for yourself at the end of the day.
Remember, building better habits and creating the life you’ve been imagining all starts with you. And if you’ve struggled in the past to make space for yourself and what you want in life, this is a great place to start.
Habits are as much about who you become in the process as they are about reaching a specific outcome. By taking intentional time alone, you’ll be nurturing your best, healthiest self — and that’s the key to creating your best, most fulfilling life. 🥰
Participate in the challenge!
Daily action: Every day for the next 30 days, spend 15 minutes alone.
To help you track your progress, download this printable Habit Tracker to mark off each day you find some solitude.
And after you’ve finished the challenge, fill out this Challenge Reflection to look back at your experience, take note of what you learned, and decide if this is a habit you want to make a permanent part of your routine.
Tips for success
🗒️ Make a plan. Sit down with your calendar and decide when during your day is the best time for me-time. If you live with other people, fill them in on your need for 15 uninterrupted minutes a day and share what they can do to help you succeed. (And while you’re at it, maybe volunteer to help them take their own solo time.)
😘 Give yourself permission to focus on you. Don’t feel guilty or selfish. As Dr. Thuy-vy T. Nguyen, leading researcher at the Solitude Lab says, “Alone time is when you can take care of your own needs and not think about what other people want.” Go ahead and write that down on a piece of paper as a reminder for the month.
🚪 Think outside the box closed door. Alone time doesn’t have to mean sitting in a quiet room by yourself (though that can totally be your vibe). Go for a bike ride, get that table for one at the corner cafe, or throw on your favorite playlist while you bake some cookies. The point isn’t complete silence or isolation, it’s to take a moment to yourself to reflect and recharge.
Know the difference between alone vs. lonely. Most researchers agree that the difference between being alone and being lonely is whether or not you feel like you have a choice in the matter. If you’re struggling with social anxiety, depression, or a sense of disconnection that’s making you feel like taking time alone isn’t a positive personal choice, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Being alone with your thoughts got you feeling 😱?
For some people, receiving a mild electric shock sounds more appealing than sitting with their own thoughts. (Literally.) ⚡
While time alone offers the opportunity for stillness and self-reflection, not all of us find it easy to enjoy this kind of solitude, especially when our minds tend to get swirly after just a few seconds of silence.
If that’s you, here are two resources that might help:
This article offers a unique tip on how to think pleasant thoughts — and avoid reaching for your phone as a distraction.
Or check out this 7-step plan to enjoy your time alone (we especially love the part about practicing self-compassion).
This month marks the halfway point of our 2023 Slow Growth Challenge! 🥳 We’d love to hear how it’s going and what you’d like to see in upcoming challenge emails.Click here to fill out a quick two-minute survey!
I don’t want to run away from the world – I want to rediscover myself within it. I want to know what happens if we again take doses of solitude from inside our crowded days, along our crowded streets.