Alone time seems to be hard to come by these days. We go from work, to social obligations, to crowded subways, and then home to our partners or roommates. It can make you wonder if it's even possible to get more alone time. And that really is a good thing to wonder. Especially since even when we do manage to snatch up some solitude, we're still not really alone. I mean, when was the last time you chilled by yourself, but made sure to turn off your phone? Probably never. And so we don't ever really get that total sense of privacy that can be so good for our mental health.
As Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D., noted on Psychology Today, "Constantly being 'on' doesn't give your brain a chance to rest and replenish itself. Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly. It's an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time."
So it's not selfish or bad to be alone. It's actually totally necessary. It's a time to replenish, but also a time to rest, to practice a hobby, to be your total gross self in front of the TV — really, it's a time for whatever you want. And that's what's so nice about it.
If you're looking for more alone time in your life, here are a few easy ways to occasionally free yourself of social obligations so you can have all the sweet, sweet "me" time you need.
1. Throw A Little Going Away Party For Yourself
If you feel the need for some alone time coming on — as in, you're going to shut the door and probably not be social for a week or more — then you might want to throw a little "goodbye" party for yourself. Invite some friends over, have a good time, knock out all your social obligations, and then send them on their way.
If a party isn't your thing, then I suggest setting aside a week to make the rounds through your groups of friends. As someone who has done this, I can say it's really nice to see everyone, and then head into my solitude without feeling guilty or like I'm letting my relationships slide.
2. Tell Everyone You Need A Break For Your Health
Unfortunately, not everyone buys the whole "I need a mental health day" thing. But most people do respect a physical illness. So if you're really having a hard time getting alone time, you should be honest about how it's affecting your health. As Susan Biali, M.D., noted on Psychology Today, "Here's the deal: stress is known to exacerbate or even trigger a huge range of medical conditions. If this applies to you in any way, you can legitimately play this card as a reason why you absolutely need some downtime." Think frequent colds, headaches, fatigue... these are all legit medical issues that will only get better if you take some time for yourself.
3. Turn Off Notifications While You Work
Of course this isn't possible for everyone, but if you have the type of job that let's you work offline, then by all means take advantage of it, suggested Scott Young on the blog PickTheBrain.com. Silence your phone, log out of your email, and just do your thing in peace and quiet. It'll be like a little mini vacation, with a bonus of getting some work done.
4. Offer Alternative Hang Out Times
OK, so you just got all comfy at home, ready for a night in, when your phone rings. It's your best friend and she wants you to come over. If she has some exciting invitation, or you just want to see her, then bounding off the couch won't seem so bad. But if you were looking forward to your alone time, don't feel bad for turning her down. Just make sure you promise to reschedule for another time. According to Anna North on Jezebel.com, "If you set up an alternative date, your friend will know you're not just blowing her off, and she'll be less likely to be annoyed about your cancellation."
5. Get Up Extra Early, As In Before Anyone Else
If you've ever gotten up real early, then you know the amazingness of feeling like you're the only person on the planet. It's still dark outside, no one is texting you, and it's possible to enjoy total solitude before the rest of the world wakes up. As Michael Hedrick noted on ThoughtCatalog.com, "There’s something to waking up before the chaos of the spinning world and the bustle of society begins in the morning that gives you time to think." Time to think, time to partake in your hobby without anyone bothering you, time to do some yoga — whatever you want. It's a nice feeling, I promise.
6. Be All About Those Errands
Running errands is probably one of the best ways to snatch up some time alone, especially if you're trying to sneak out of a party or crowded apartment, North suggested. You'll look super helpful to your roommates or party guests, but really the benefit is all for you.
7. Be The Most Honest With Your SO
Friends are likely to understand when you need alone time. But the one person on the planet who might not? That significant other of yours. That's because it kind of hurts to hear the person you love say they want time by themselves. So that's why you have to be honest, and extra caring, when it comes to asking your partner for time alone.
There's a good way to do it, and a bad way. A bad way would be shutting them out with no explanation whatsoever. While the good way is, well, the exact opposite. As Shawn McKibben noted on MindBodyGreen.com, "Finding alone time doesn't mean you need to shut out your partner and go on a silent retreat in the woods for two weeks. Compromise on your expectations and make sure your partner's needs are also being met ... When two people are absolutely clear about their intentions, there is less of a gray area, which minimizes misinterpretation (one of the greatest pitfalls of dating and relationships!)."
You are totally entitled to all the alone time you need. But sometimes it's easier said than done. If you're having trouble getting some time to yourself, then follow these tips for sneaking off into your much-needed solitude.
Image: Mark Makela/Getty Images; Giphy (7)