Solitude enhances your social-emotional health and well-being
How spending time alone can actually improve your relationships.
December 22, 2016 - Author: Maria Millett, Michigan State University Extension
In a world that tends to be connected at all times, many of us find ourselves too often over-worked, over-extended and over-committed. For example, walking across a college campus, it can be difficult to make eye contact with anyone because eyes are diverted to devices. We are “connected,” but this constant contact can lead to a deep disconnection within ourselves. How do we get back in touch with our true self? What is the value in re-connecting with our self? Though spending time alone can have a bad reputation, there is another perspective that says scheduling solitude into your routine can help you reap many benefits and rewards for yourself and those around you.
According to the Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, the article “Solitude: An Exploration of Benefits of Being Alone,” defines 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 studying solitude, research shows there can be numerous positive outcomes to this practice, such as:
- Freedom increases with the ability to engage in desired activities.
- Creativity strengthens through using the imagination, discovering self-transformation, and developing new thought patterns.
- Intimacy increases by becoming more self-sufficient, pursuing passions, and maintaining an awareness of strong relationships with others.
- Spirituality can grow when given the space and freedom to question one’s place in the universe, personal thoughts, and/or desires.
While for many of us it is not common practice to schedule time for solitude, it is crucial that in the midst of our busy lives we allow ourselves the gift of spending time alone. You might be asking yourself, “how does this relate to social-emotional health and well-being?” Michigan State University Extension defines social-emotional health and wellbeing as the social, mental, psychological and spiritual aspects of an individual’s life across the lifespan. By spending time in solitude we are given the chance to reconnect with our thoughts, desires, and emotions. The strength of our relationship with ourselves, determines in large part our ability to connect with others in healthy ways.
If you are looking for more information or community support on improving your social-emotional health and well-being, MSU Extension offers numerous programs that can assist in this process.