The Benefits of Solitude, for Adults and Children
by JOY ORGANICS
By now, you’ve probably lost count of how many days you’ve been practicing social distancing in your household. You’re also probably starting to go a little stir-crazy (or maybe that already happened back on day two). While spending time at home can seem dull and unproductive, in reality there are a number of benefits to spending time alone.
If you are “quarantining” with your family, you may not be getting much alone time right now—perhaps not nearly as much as you would like. Or maybe you live alone, and the isolation is starting to take its toll. No matter your age or situation, take advantage of the stay-at-home order and spend some time in solitude.
The Benefits of Solitude for Adults
Whether you live alone or not, you should try to make some time for solitude. Recent reports have confirmed this suggestion. According to Forbes, there are many reasons why adults should spend some time alone.
Here are a few benefits of solitude:
- Being alone increases empathy. When you are surrounded by people all of the time, it’s harder to spend time thinking about others and their feelings. As you become more in touch with your feelings while spending time alone, you’ll grow to understand others more, too.
- Being alone improves productivity. Even with all of the fancy new coworking spaces popping up all over town, studies show that people actually work better when they are isolated and not distracted by others. So yes, it’s okay to shut your home office door and focus on your important tasks for the day. You’ll get your work done faster if you do it in solitude, anyway.
- Being alone sparks creativity. You’ve heard stories about famous authors and painters getting away from the world to create their masterpieces. Now’s a great time to create your own personal artist’s retreat! After all, it’s rumored that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while he was quarantined from the bubonic plague. Think of all the great works of literature that are being written as we speak!
Perhaps the most important reason that adults should spend time in solitude, however, is that it allows us time to think for ourselves. According to Psychology Today, being alone “allows you to drop your “social guard,” thus giving you the freedom to be introspective, to think for yourself. You may be able to make better choices and decisions about who you are and what you want without outside influence.” If you’re contemplating a career move or trying to figure out what you want out of your next relationship, now’s the time to do it. If you spend time in solitude, you’ll know yourself better than ever when all of this is over.
The Benefits of Solitude for Children
While your children probably miss seeing their friends at school or playing at the local park, spending time alone can be good for them as well. Asking them to isolate themselves for a period of time each day may even help them to come out of social distancing better-behaved and more mature than when they went in.
- Research shows that children who spend time alone have fewer behavior issues than those who do not. Time alone helps children learn to regulate their own thoughts and emotions and do better with independent school work. While you may need to help your kids with their school work as they dive into distance learning, carve out an hour or two per day for them to work independently as well. You will thank yourself later for it—and their teachers may thank you as well.
- A Harvard study found that spending time alone as children improves memory formation. This is true for both processing life events and for memorization exercises like learning to play an instrument.
- Research also shows that spending time alone helps people develop more self-acceptance. Ensuring that your children spend time alone can help them foster better self-esteem in the long run, which could make it easier to cope with the trials of their teenage years and beyond.
- Spending time alone teaches children to solve problems for themselves. As they grow up and enter high school and college, young people are often asked to complete tasks that require more independence. Time alone could help them be more successful. So really, it’s okay to give yourself(and your kids) a break from everyone for a while each day.
You can’t pour from an empty cup! During this time of staying at home, make sure you also take a few hours for yourself each day. When you start the day feeling recharged and ready because you are taking care of yourself, things will go more smoothly for everyone in the house.
Taking Full Advantage of Stay-At-Home Orders
You now know how advantageous it can be to spend time alone at any age—but what should you do during your solitary time? Read, journal, meditate, or even daydream about your future. Any of these activities will produce the desired benefits of spending time in solitude. The most important thing is that you are disconnecting from others(including via digital screens) and taking time for yourself.