“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson. Most people go through life searching for other people to connect with. After all, the need to be with others is not unusual; we are social beings. So why does it seem that some humans thrive being alone? Perplexing, but not when you delve into the myriad reasons for their preferences. Not to be confused with loneliness, being alone can have positive, negative, or neutral connotations.
Additionally, the desire to be alone does not dictate rigid lengths of time. Busy moms might define happy alone time as the quietness ensuing once the kids are all snug in their beds. A writer’s alone time probably encompasses a lot of their day and can be blissful or exasperating depending on motivation, inspiration, and the inevitability of writer’s block.
This article will cover people who prefer to spend most of their time alone and discuss the pros and cons of being alone.
Hedonic and Eudaimonic Well-Being
Research shows that spending time alone can contribute to a person’s well-being when their perception of aloneness is positive and meaningful. Hedonic happiness is achieved through pleasure and enjoyment. Eudaimonic happiness is achieved through purpose and meaning.
Both hedonic and eudaimonic happiness contribute to our overall well-being but in different ways. Further, some people choose to be alone, not necessarily because it makes them happy, but because they find it meaningful, which adds positive value rather than negative.
Differences Between Alone and Loneliness
As the above section indicates, being alone can be a positive experience. But what happens when a person spends too much time alone? Perhaps their alone time has drastically increased due to the death of a partner or divorce. Such unfortunate circumstances may result in loneliness, leading to mental health issues or disorders. Many lonesome people exhibit stress, anxiety, or depression, which may cause increased alcohol consumption or substance use.
Older adults are more susceptible to loneliness, but surprisingly, studies also show that older adults are more content living alone than other adults. Some gain heightened creativity and cognitive insight, allowing for fulfillment and self-identity. Others prefer a simpler, quieter life without much noise or turmoil.
How Much Is Too Much?
Humans can experience too much alone time at any age, but how do you recognize the signs or symptoms? A few of these include:
- Increased anxiety
- Loss of interest in social activity
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Appetite changes
- Decreased motivation
- Increased alcohol consumption or substance use
If you are living alone or spending too much time alone, and experiencing negative behaviors and feelings, reach out to a trusted loved one or a professional.
The Best Things About Solitude
Using your time wisely in solitude can reap a multitude of rewards. Physical and mental health renewals are fundamental to our happiness and well-being. Passing the time resting, reading, or meditating can restore and replenish the spirit and the soul. Creative juices can flow during solitariness as well. Some of the most famous paintings, novels, and music come from those who chose to create in seclusion.
We all possess creative gifts; using them cleanses our minds of toxic clutter and boosts our positivity. Creativity can result in less anxiety and depression and bolster our immune system. Spending time with yourself is a form of self-help and self-love. By creating, you care for yourself through imagination, cognitive patterns, and positive emotions. Solitude allows us to engage in our lives without judgment and grows our spirituality.
Recovery and Aloneness
People in recovery from mental health disorders and substance use disorders know that we inevitably must heal and recover on our own. However, that does not mean we do not need the support of our families, friends, peers, and professional practitioners. While some in recovery often desire to spend time alone, especially during depressive times, it may not serve you well. Your treatment, therapies, and recovery intertwine with your support system.
As you progress into and through recovery, spending time with yourself should also be a gradual progression, allowing you to heal and become stronger, facing and overcoming obstacles. If you are experiencing difficulty being around others and feel overwhelmed, talk with your therapist or other support.
Loving Yourself Allows You to Love Others
Those of us who choose solitude do so for personal reasons. Perhaps we identify as introverts and feel best around fewer people. We are fortunate if our family and friends understand us and allow us the space to live a peaceful life. We open up to others more positively and lovingly by being ourselves and speaking our truth. Life balance includes tending to our mental and physical needs and correlates directly with our well-being and quality of life. Be thankful, express empathy and gratitude, and find your joy.
At SoCal Mental Health, your mental health is our number one concern. Feeling comfortable with yourself encompasses self-care and self-love. Your well-being and quality of life are vital. Living alone can be peaceful and self-fulfilling, but sometimes people need people. If you feel overwhelmed with loneliness and it affects your mental well-being through depression or other mental health disorders, please know that we are here for you and can help. Our programs are designed for your needs, whether for mental health, substance abuse recovery, relapse, or other addictive struggles. You do not have to go through this journey alone. Don’t wait. Call SoCal Mental Health today at (949) 502-2041 for more information.