I used to detest being alone. I was an extrovert to the extreme. If I was doing something, I wanted others to be doing it with me. This is where I drew my energy. But like a lot of things in life, that changed, and I have become more balanced. I actually enjoy the time I am alone. I have learned the healing power of it and draw strength from it.
Do you sometimes struggle to separate out the different interactions going on around you? Feel overwhelmed by all the noise? Get irritated at moments that don’t make sense? All of these things could be indicators that you need some time alone. Let me say upfront that having alone time is healthy and important. But it is very different from doing it in an unhealthy way that isolates yourself from the people you love. We all need time to recharge and unplug so that we have energy and stamina to give to the people we want to be around.
And yet in our busy work and home lives, how are we supposed to make alone time happen without shortchanging our other responsibilities? Here are some ideas that may help.
Be An Early Bird/Night Owl
We often have some unused time at the beginning or end of our days. You might even be lucky enough to be the only early riser or night owl in your family, which means you don’t actually have to step away from people to use this time. I am writing this blog while on vacation in Florida and I got up early to have some alone time to finish it. I am typically the first one up so I take full advantage of this time to be alone and recharge. Whether it’s early or late, get in the habit of carving out a few minutes to read, pray, or just sit quietly sipping coffee or tea.
We make time for everyone else on our calendars — why not pencil yourself in? The truth is there’s enough going on in any given community that you’re never going to get to every single event. So let go of the guilt of missing this thing or that thing, and take the time you need without apology. If you receive an invitation and realize you were really looking forward to some time alone, don’t set your needs aside. Recognize that you were probably craving that quiet for a good reason. Suggest an alternative time to meet up, instead.
Sometimes it’s easier for people to accept time alone if they’re killing two birds with one stone. Exercise routines improve our health, and our doctors might already be agitating for us to implement one anyway. A daily workout, walk or run can do wonders to provide you with some much-needed headspace, and it’s a mood elevator, too! I have always loved to exercise, but I do it for more than the obvious physical benefits. It is a great way to boost energy and clear your head.
I realize that telling you to head out into public places might not sound like a great recipe for alone time, but you’re under no obligation to talk to strangers when you’re out at the store, and you’ll have time alone in the car, too. If you take on errands that are usually your spouse’s responsibility, they might be relieved to have a break, which makes errand running another guilt-free way to get some space.
Swap Alone Time
Maybe your spouse is a social butterfly and never needs time alone, but that’s not very common– especially if you’ve got kids at home. The two of you can hatch a plan to swap time…either you can take the kids out so your spouse can relax in an empty house, or you run the show at home so they can go do something they enjoy. When we prioritize each other’s mental health needs, it makes it easier for both parties to practice healthy self-care.
Like prayer, time alone centers you. It gives you space that can be incredibly helpful for coming to terms with your emotions or finding the solution to a problem that’s been nagging at you. It renews you. I used to think wanting time alone meant I had a problem. But in reality, it is a powerful way to make you and your marriage stronger. Don’t be shy about asking for it.
Please feel free to share with others!