We have more tools and resources to connect to each other now than ever before. Yet, with this ease of connection comes a price: we unlearn how to spend time with ourselves. Making time to be alone is important for developing our sense of self and individuality, deepening our self-knowledge, and unwinding.
Here are four suggestions you can use to re-learn the art of being alone without being lonely:
1. Take yourself out on an artist's date.
This suggestion comes from writer and creative guide Julia Cameron, who prescribed weekly artist dates in her 12-week creativity course The Artist's Way. An artist's date involves setting aside an hour, an afternoon, or a whole day for yourself and doing something that will delight your inner child.
This could be baking your favorite cake, visiting your local craft store, watching an old movie, or anything else that lights up your creative side. To keep your artist dates fresh, start keeping a "love list" of activities you want to try.
Set aside time on a weekly basis to be with yourself, engage with something that enchants your inner child, and watch for the positive shifts that will happen in other areas of your life as a result.
2. Meditate for just two minutes a day.
Meditation is one of the most valuable ways we can spend time with ourselves, and it's a great opportunity to introduce more clarity, serenity, and focus into our lives.
If you're struggling to make time to sit with yourself on a regular basis, start by making a commitment to sit and breathe for two minutes each day. After a couple of weeks, raise the time to three minutes, then four minutes, and so on, until you reach a length of time you feel satisfied with.
Meditation isn't a sprint; it's a life-long practice; starting small but staying consistent now will lay the foundations for your emotional prosperity in the future.
3. Turn off your devices and disconnect.
While smartphones and other devices are great for staying connected to other people, they can be both a gift and a curse. When we have a negative experience, we can rant about it on Facebook, rather than learning to self-soothe.
When we're working on something that is difficult or uncomfortable, we only need to reach for our phones for temporary relief, rather than sticking with the task at hand and strengthening our focus and resilience.
It's never been easier to get immediate external validation, and this distracts from the most important validation of all: the validation that comes from ourselves.
Disconnecting means turning off the phone, leaving the laptop at home, and putting the devices on "Do not disturb." It means experiencing some temporary discomfort as we lose this external source of validation and entertainment, but it also means experiencing a stronger sense of inner confidence and security in the long-term. By disconnecting from our external distractions, we develop a deeper connection with ourselves.
4. Make time to sit each day and write about whatever happens to be on your mind at that moment.
Journaling is one of the most effective ways to develop a closer and more loving self-relationship. When we write for ourselves, we can express our true thoughts and feelings in a safe environment, without fear of repercussion or rejection.
If you're new to the practice of journaling, make time to sit each day and write about whatever happens to be on your mind at that moment. Like meditation, start with a small practice—just five or 10 minutes—and increase it as you become more comfortable.
Through journaling, we can gain clarity on issues or problems in our lives, we can create visions for our future, and we can practice self-acceptance and compassion. Most of all, we can learn that even when we are alone, we always have ourselves for company.
What are your suggestions for being alone without being lonely? How do you like to spend time with yourself? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.