When did people get so uncomfortable being alone?
Humans are social animals- fact. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, interaction is a central part of our everyday lives.
But the invasion of social media into our private lives has meant that we’re constantly connected, especially at Uni. Whether it’s chatting to our flatmates or posting on the group chat, there are fewer and fewer moments where we’re really alone with our own thoughts, and when we are we’re not sure how to act.
How often do we reach for our phone when we’re waiting to meet someone? Why does going out for a meal feel totally weird unless you have company, or taking a day trip on your own make you feel like a right loner?
According to one study, many people would rather be given a mild electric shock than choose to spend time alone with their own thoughts!
Yet, spending time alone is proven to help us cope with problems better. Not only this, but people who integrate “me time” into their lifestyle are more well balanced.
As the great Oprah once proclaimed, “alone time is when I distance myself from the voices of the world so I can hear my own.” And if Oprah loves me time, then you should too.
I’ve always been fiercely independent. When I was younger, I would take myself off to London just to wander and explore (sorry, Mum). Don’t get me wrong, I love being around people; but as much as I love going out with friends I also love sitting in coffee shops on my own just thinking and people watching.
“I’m the biggest advocate of “me time” and have noticed its benefits”
In short, doing stuff on your own is completely underrated.
When I tell people that I’m moving into a flat of my own this year, their immediate reaction is always “but why?”. The presumption is that I have no friends, not the simple fact that I have chosen to spend more time in my own company. I’m the biggest advocate of “me time” and have noticed its benefits.
There are so many advantages of taking the time out to do something for yourself, on your own, with your own thoughts and no one else to answer to. Recent research outlined three key benefits of spending time alone:
Not only are you free to do what you want, you’re free to think as you want, and this is when you get to know yourself best.
People who cannot stand being alone are less creative than those who fit ‘me time’ into their lives.
When we’re alone we pay less attention to how other people perceive us, letting us change our identity to a more positive one. Without the pressure of managing how we come across to other people, we can improve how we feel about ourselves.
How to do “me time”- and do it well
Spending time alone might seem more natural to you than breathing, or it might be a scarier thought than jumping off a 1000-foot building into a bed of nails. Regardless, here are three tricks that will help you to feel the benefits of some quality time with yourself.
1.) Stay away from social media
I am the biggest culprit of taking a day to myself, then posting every second of it on my Instagram story. This turns my time alone into something that involves hundreds of other people and prevents me from really being free from self-management and alone with my thoughts.
2.) Do something nice
If you’re one of the people who would prefer an electric shock to time alone with your thoughts, then do something nice for yourself to ease yourself in. It doesn’t have to be expensive (or it can – hello spa weekend), go to your favourite coffee shop and treat yourself to a cake, or buy a new book and read with your phone turned off for a little while. Just 10 minutes to yourself can completely transform your day.
3.) Ignore FOMO
At Uni, we get so used to being around people from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep, that being away from your friends for a second can lead to the dreaded fear of missing out. Ignore it if you can; taking a little time away from your friends can deliberately improve social interactions, helping to renew friendships.