Everyone needs time to be alone occasionally. Don’t let guilt keep you from replenishing your spirit.
Writer: Trish Penn
Do you snatch a moment here and there for yourself with the same guilty pleasure as grabbing a chocolate bar? Most psychologists agree some time alone is essential for good mental health. Many women, however, find it difficult to allow themselves this alone time. In today’s society, women often feel a need to prove themselves as dedicated professionals, caring mothers, and devoted lovers. If you feel guilty about taking time out for yourself, read on.
You owe it to yourself, your loved ones, and your colleagues to take some time out. You already know that eating well and exercising regularly is good for your health. Add spending time alone to your “things that are good for me” list. Being alone allows you to still your mind, center your soul, and increase self-awareness. Some confidence and leadership courses, such as Outward Bound, even include a compulsory time of solitude to enable participants to gain inner self-knowledge.
If you think time alone is unproductive, think again. “Solitude helps improve concentration and increase productivity,” says Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D., (psychologytoday.com/blog/hi-octane-women).
Give yourself permission to take time out from your kids. It does them no harm, and you may even find your time with them is enriched. In an article on huffingtonpost.com, Peggy Drexler, M.D., also suggests that allowing children to play alone [safely supervised] offers the same benefits as alone time does for adults. Bourg Carter also comments that “understanding ourselves enhances relationships with others.” This applies to all relationships, and though it is important to spend time with a partner or friends, it is just as important to spend some time alone.
Each woman is unique in how much time she needs alone. Look for indications that you need a little solitude. Common signs include: feeling irritable, having a sudden desire to be home when you are out with friends, difficulty concentrating on conversations, and worrying over deadlines or work situations.
How can you find this time? If you never seem to get around to having time alone, you may need to schedule solitude into your daily routine, add it to your “to do” list, or even hire a sitter.
Susan Biali, M.D., also makes these suggestions (pschologytoday.com/blog/prescriptions-life):
Claim you need the time for medical reasons, as some medical conditions are caused by stress
Use exercise as a means of escape—early-morning walks are a wonderful way to find solitude
Steal time if you have to, even if this means spending five minutes longer in the bathroom, taking longer to do the shopping, getting up earlier, or arriving at work when no one is there.
However and whenever you get your alone time, treat it as precious and important. This is not time wasted, but rather time to find yourself and engage your mind. Be at one with nature, meditate, paint, read, or just be. Enjoy your time alone without guilt. You’ll feel better for it, and everyone around you benefits.