Getting some quality alone time seems surprisingly hard to achieve these days. Daily commitments — from family to work to exercise to socializing — spread our time thin and constantly immerse our senses in the communal pool of others. When you wake up each morning, your day is already laid out before you, with your activities and tasks designed to make the most of every available moment — an approach which is aimed at bringing you closer to your life goal, whatever that may be, but which is ultimately unsustainable.
Even when we have time to ourselves, we’re never truly alone. When was the last time you sat alone in a quiet room or strolled silently through a forest without your phone pressed against your side? That promise of constant communication and information at the touch of a button (or a screen, as it were) often proves far too tempting and has us reaching for our smartphones, tablets or laptops when we really need to just sit back and be in the moment.
And considering how important taking time out to reflect is to our mental health, society almost makes it seem as if being alone is a bad thing, implying that you’re friendless and lacking the social skills to enjoy the company of others. This is an unfortunate misconception, as everyone needs time to themselves to clear their minds of the fuzz of everyday life. People need time to meditate, revitalize and refocus their brainwaves to both relax the body and sharpen the mind for the everyday tasks that come their way.
Here’s 11 techniques you can use to carve out a little alone time so you can do just that. Your mind, body and soul will thank you for it.
1. Turn off the notifications
Deep down, you know you’ll never find peace with the constant threat or promise of a text, email, call, tweet, post, like or whatever! Even so, it’s a rare event indeed that has you putting your phone on airplane mode, disconnecting your laptop from wifi, and hanging out in your head with only your own thoughts as company for once.
This doesn’t even need to be only when you have time to sit down or stroll away from the hustle and bustle. Even “going offline” while working can help to focus your mind and calm your soul. You’ll be surprised at how more effectively you complete your tasks, and the break away from constant notifications will be like a mini vacation for your brain!
2. Hold a goodbye party
If you feel like your social life is eating up way too much of your alone time, but can’t bring yourself to miss anything on your social calendar or gives your friends the cold shoulder… stage a goodbye party! Invite all your close friends over, and maybe even some family, have a few drinks, some laughs, see everyone you need to see and tick all the social boxes, then say goodbye!
This is a great way to show your friends and extended family you still care about them, but that you need to take some time to unwind and reflect by yourself. This might be just a weekend, a couple of weeks, or even a month — whatever you need to get your head into a good space again.
3. Adjust your hours
It’s likely that you can think back to a particular day in the not-too-distant past when you rose before anyone else. The house was still and quiet, the world outside still sleepy and, for once, your phone wasn’t beeping, no new emails had come in and you had nowhere you needed to be. There are few times better than this to get that much-needed “you time” in. Sit back and enjoy it — perhaps you’ll decide to maximize the time by doing some self-guided meditation or relaxing stretches, or maybe you’ll just grab a book or sit and look out the window at the gathering day.
Enjoy this time to yourself and consider making a regular habit of setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual. This one is probably dependent on whether or not you’re a morning person!
4. Take a break for your health
While it might not do you well to go around telling everyone you know (your boss included) that you need to take a break because you’re about to go crazy, telling them that you have a health condition or physical illness which is keeping you from work or social gatherings is perfectly acceptable. Don’t stray too far from the truth, however. After all, the everyday stress of modern life can create very real health problems, from compromised immunity, poor gut health, emotional disorders and weight gain. Telling those around you that you need some time off as per doctors orders can often help to erect that temporary barrier you need to slip away from the action for a while.
5. Don’t be afraid to reschedule
Many people struggle to get some much needed alone time simply because they lack the ability to say “no.” You finally have the place to yourself for the evening, you’re tucked up on the couch with a good book and a steaming mug of herbal tea… and your friend sends you a message, inviting you to a party or asking if you can come to dinner. Rather than saying yes, tell them that you can’t right now and schedule a get-together for another time. These moments are hard to find, so don’t feel bad about it!
6. Make alone time a health ritual
Most people recognize the importance of certain foods and activities in order to maintain their health. Things like healthy eating, regular exercise, massages and even meditation are all considered part of a healthy lifestyle. So why not make getting some occasional alone time part of your health schedule as well? Setting aside 15 minutes of every day for yourself will ingrain it in your schedule and ensure that skipping it isn’t even an option.
7. Steal a few minutes whenever you can
If you can’t set aside enough time each day for some “official” alone time, simply make a point of grabbing it whenever an opportunity presents itself. It might be that you completed the family shopping faster than expected, or need to take a break from sitting in front of the computer too long. Whenever you have a few spare moments, consciously harvest them as your own time and use it to reconnect with yourself.
8. Park up and chill out
Usually, with the end of the work day, the stresses and demands of the job merge rapidly into those of home and family. Rather than driving home then immediately immersing yourself in the trial and tribulations of your family and home life, stay in the car for a few minutes after parking up and just chill the heck out! The front seat of your car can be just as relaxing as a sun-dappled park bench if you want it to be.
9. Take up running or cycling
Certain exercises take you away from the daily grind and allow you to finally catch up with your own thoughts. Running and cycling are those kinds of exercise, allowing you to go anywhere you want, for as long as you want, all by yourself. Grab some headphones and listen to your favorite music, or just chug along silently and listen to your thoughts.
10. Get out into nature
There are few places more relaxing than natural settings. It might be a certain local park which no-one really knows about, a riverside pathway or lakeside stroll which gets you well away from the hustle and bustle and lets you spend some time with just yourself. What’s more, studies show that getting out into nature is one of the best ways to cast off stress and is, in fact, its own form of meditation.
11. Ditch the music
I love music as much as the next person, but more often than not music clutters up your brain just as much as the people and technology all around you. If you really want to relax, unwind and refocus, ditch the music in favor of silence. It will soothe the soul and allow your mind to take a deep breath.
— Liivi Hess
One of the best ways to reconnect with yourself and take a few moments away from the chaos of life is to meditate. However, it’s easier said than done, so if you’re interested you might want to check out this article.