As an extrovert, "alone time" is not a thing that I particularly seek out. In fact, the one time that I lived alone, without roommates, I lasted a month before spiraling out and moving into a friend's extra bedroom for the summer. But regardless of whether you find socializing energizing or draining, every human needs alone time. For real. Here are a few signs that should spend more time alone — recognize any of them?
In today's world of social media, "alone time" has taken on several different meanings. Like, yeah, I can be alone in my bed, but I'm still interacting with and observing a whole slew of other people thanks to texting, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Unless we make a concerted effort, we rarely, if ever, are really alone. But this constant, bizarre combination of remote communication, while very handy when it comes to staying in touch with friends, can take a toll on us both physically and mentally.
Alone time — like, actual, no-phone alone time — gives us time to recharge, re-focus, and rejuvenate. Of course, the amount of necessary alone time differs person to person. For serious introverts, for example, author Jonathan Rauch suggests spending two hours alone for every one hour socializing. For extroverts, that ratio may be reversed.
If you find yourself prone to any of the following warning signs, consider taking a day for yourself. Stretch. Go for a walk. Hydrate. Take some deep breaths. Spend time with yourself before spending some time with your pals. You'll appreciate them so much more.
You know those times when you cry at the slightest hint of frustration? That may be because you haven't given yourself enough time to recover from the last 500 frustrations. Even a few minutes of solitary deep breathing can help retain at least a little bit of calm. Breathe in for five seconds, hold for five seconds, then exhale for five seconds. Do three rounds of this. I promise you'll feel better.
2. Feelings of Isolation Even When You're With People
If you feel yourself zoning out in social situations, or feeling lonely even in a crowd, then you may be socially burned out. It's important that we learn how to be happy and content alone, so that we're not constantly relying on others for validation or positive energy. You'll come to resent friends if you need them to boost your self-confidence.
Even me, Super Extrovert, has a habit of getting cranky and snappish at pals if we've been hanging out for more than, like, 24 hours straight. Yes, I know, 24 hours is a lot of time and most humans will not be spending that many consecutive hours together, but whatever. Pretty much every single person alters their actions and persona at least a little when interacting with other people. If you don't give yourself time to take your pants and your bra off and flop around eating chips every once in a while, you're going to snap.
While these findings are correlative, not causative, studies have found that people who spend more than two hours a day on social media have higher rates of depression, with some scientists hypothesizing that the simultaneous social stimulation and physical isolation leaves people feeling burned out and adrift.