As the temperature drops and the nights draw in, many of us will be spending more time at home. While there are plenty of benefits to this, such as having cosy evenings snuggled up with a good film or more time to get stuck into home-based activities like arts and crafts, it can also be an isolating time – particularly for those of us who live alone.
But loneliness and social isolation don’t necessarily need to go hand in hand. There are plenty of things you can do to help you fall in love with your own company and make being alone feel less daunting.
A key reason why some people don’t enjoy being alone is that, when they’re not distracted by the presence of other people, their minds become flooded with a range of different thoughts and emotions. Being alone can make it easier to become fixated on negative thoughts, leading you into a downward spiral.
An effective way to combat this is to write things down. This can help you process your thoughts and emotions, put them into perspective, and generally give you somewhere to offload.
The temptation can be to keep ourselves so busy that we never allow uncomfortable thoughts and emotions in. But the best way to find peace in being alone is to confront and work through what we’re feeling – and journaling can help with this.
Society has taught us that being alone is a negative thing – at school, in relationships, and in general. But there’s a huge amount of strength and empowerment that can come from being truly content in your own company.
When we’re alone we can do what we like without having to worry about pleasing others; learn to trust our own thoughts and judgements; become more independent; develop mental strength; and relax and recharge.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t benefits to being with others too or that you shouldn’t ask for help if you need it. But developing the courage and ability to find comfort in your own space will give you the best of both worlds – and the strongest wings!
So, if you’ve always seen being alone as a negative thing, try to challenge those thoughts and consider everything you could achieve while being by yourself.
Though we live with ourselves day in and day out, learning more about our true, authentic selves is something that often requires deeper self-exploration and reflection – which is easier to do away from the guise of others. Ask yourself: what do I enjoy? What am I good at? And what am I not so good at?
Try to give any new activity or experience a good go before deciding that it’s not for you, as there’s usually a settling-in period in anything new we do in life. But, equally, if something really isn’t offering you the satisfaction that you hoped for, then don’t be afraid to move on to something else.
Discovering what really makes you tick might take some trial and error but doing so is the key to discovering more about who you are. It can help you make the best use of time spent alone by doing things that you genuinely love, as well as set goals for the future.
Plus, once you start spending time (both alone and with others) in a way that aligns with your passions and interests, you might find that you’re presented with more opportunities to meet like-minded people and form beautiful new connections.
Even something as simple as going shopping can be easier and more enjoyable alone, as we can revisit the same isles or shops as many times as we like; make our own purchase decisions without the influence of others; and take as long as we like. And the same applies to life in general – many of us bend, twist, and put off the things we’d like to do in order to please others.
With this in mind, try to make a list of everything you’ve always wanted to do and could still do, but haven’t yet because of thoughts and opinions from other people.
Then, why not use time alone to try and tick off as many of these things as possible?
One of the most liberating things about being alone is that we don’t need to answer to those around us, so it helps if we can make the most of that! And before long, time alone could become something you look forward to, rather than dread.
Something that can help with challenging negative thoughts around being alone is to take yourself out on a date night. This is also a good place to start if the idea of doing things alone seems daunting.
Buying a single ticket to go and see a movie and/or booking a reservation at your favourite restaurant is not only a way to practise self-care and treat yourself, but it also reinforces the idea that we don’t need to wait for others to do the things we want to do.
I recently went to see a movie alone for the first time, and I was quite nervous beforehand. Though I quickly realised that this was only because I was bothered about what others might think of me turning up by myself – not because I actually had an issue with my own company. Once I got there and realised that no one cared what I was doing, I felt empowered and had a great time!
Now it’s something I’ve promised myself I will do more often. It’s also encouraged me to strike out and try other things on my own too, such as a new gym class – and I’m even thinking about taking my first solo city break.
It’s important to remember that even if you don’t love your own company now, it’s possible to get there with time, perseverance, and most importantly, courage.
As Mandy Hale once said, “If you learn to really sit with loneliness and embrace it for the gift that it is… an opportunity to get to know YOU, to learn how strong you really are, to depend on no one but YOU for your happiness… you will realize that a little loneliness goes a LONG way in creating a richer, deeper, more vibrant and colorful YOU.”