“We often are alone without feeling lonely and feel lonely when we are not alone, as when we are in a crowd of strangers or at a party of people we do not know. Clearly the psychological experience of loneliness is quite different from the physical experience of being alone. We can feel joy when we are alone but not when we are lonely… Much depends on your attitude. If you are filled with negative judgement and anger, then you will feel separate from other people. You will feel lonely. But if you have an open heart and are filled with trust and friendship, even if you are physically alone, even living a hermit’s life, you will never feel lonely.” – Dalai Lama

Humans are social creatures who find it easy to socialize. Solitude, on the other hand, is a different story. The pressures of civilization make solitude difficult. Even still, enjoyment can be found in solitude, despite the fact that society relies on everyone’s efforts to contribute to the larger good.

Taking time for yourself is often seen as self-indulgent and wasteful. Sorry, society, but we disagree. And so, it seems, does the Dalai Lama.

Many people find solitude unsettling because they’ve learnt to get their self-esteem from actions launched by their “other selves” — that is, their attempts to fulfill themselves by satisfying others.

Child, student, sibling, grandchild, athlete, employee, employer caretaker, neighbor, and citizen are all examples of your “other self.” True, serving your “other self” brings you enjoyment, but there are also significant benefits to spending time with your “personal self,” the part of you who isn’t dependent on other people to be happy.

What are the advantages of solitude?

If you have never really thought about, you might be wondering what these advantages of solitude under discussion here really are. There are, in fact, a lot. Here’s a look at some of the most important.

  • Solitude allows your body and mind to catch up. We’re always tilting forward in this insane aggressive existence that most people live in – our thoughts are well out in front of our bodies, thinking, analyzing, and preparing ahead. Your mind and body can only get back into harmony when you stop and get off the merry-go-round of everyday living.
  • Your brain can relax in solitude. Our minds are continuously in a hyperactive mode in a world of overstimulation. Solitude helps your mind to disconnect from the constant clamor of your surroundings — the radio, the Internet, conversations, street noise, traffic sounds, barking dogs — and relax for a while.
  • The parasympathetic nervous system is activated by solitude (the branch of the autonomic nervous system that calms you down). Your muscles relax, your blood pressure drops, and your pulse rate slows when you get some time to yourself. Consider solitude to be the anti-adrenaline system that kicks in when the fight-or-flight response is no longer required.
  • Burnout is avoided through solitude. Burnout is what happens when you’re under a lot of stress for a long time and don’t know what to do about it. You become disorganized, inefficient, and erratic as a result of a lack of physical and psychological energy.
  • Solitude helps you to be more creative. Solitude frees the mind from the distractions of normal life, allowing it to concentrate more intently on a single task. It permits your brain to think outside the box and come up with novel, unusual solutions to everyday situations. Part of the reason why artists — painters, sculptors, musicians, and writers — spend so much time alone is because of this.
  • Solitude can be a period of personal growth. Solitude is an opportunity to learn more about yourself. Self-discovery is a process that entails pondering and answering four fundamental questions: Who am I, exactly? What distinguishes me from others? What am I going to do with my life? Am I at ease in my own skin?
  • Solitude allows you to see things from a different perspective. When you’re engrossed in the minutiae of daily life, all you can see is what’s right in front of you — the problem at hand. You have to take a step back and gain a bird’s-eye view of what your life is all about if you want to see and appreciate the big picture — and solitude helps you to do just that.
  • Solitude gives you the opportunity to think about the significant issues in your life. You’ll be confronted with important questions throughout your life, and it takes time and a lot of careful thought to come up with the solutions. Such solutions are more likely to emerge at a quiet, thoughtful moment – solitude — than when you’re totally immersed in your daily duties.

Avoiding Essential Exhaustion Via Alone Time

Ask yourself the following questions to see if you’re suffering from essential exhaustion:

When you first get up in the morning, do you feel refreshed and rested?

Do you ever feel like you’re a battery that’s running out of juice?

If you responded no to the first question but yes to the second, you are most likely suffering from essential exhaustion. This alone increases your risk of sudden cardiac death by 42 percent, and when mixed with persistent anger, your risk rises to 69 percent. If that’s the case, here are some options to think about:

  • Improve your anger management skills.
  • Reduce your tobacco and alcohol consumption, as both are linked to critical tiredness.
  • Every day, spend a few minutes meditating.
  • Engage in a mentally and physically uplifting activity.
  • Reduce the amount of time you spend working and increase the amount of time you spend playing.
  • Start sleeping better, exercising more, and eating a healthier diet.

When you hear the word “solitude,” you might associate it with something negative. However, when it is replaced with synonym terms or phrases (such as “me time” or “peace and quiet”), it becomes evident how crucial it is to spend time alone. That’s not to suggest you have to go full Walden, but setting out a small amount of time each day might help you stay balanced and present in your regular life.