There is a stigma around solitude, people myself included equates solitude with loneliness. However, you can be surrounded by people all the time and still feel lonely and be alone without feeling lonely. As a person who enjoys spending a lot of time alone, during this pandemic I have discovered so much about myself that I wouldn't have otherwise. I think a lot of people have come to that same exact realization. Some have embraced it while others have had just about enough. Of course I am not always alone, I do share custody of my twins with my ex-husband but on the weeks that I am not with them, for the most part I have been spending a good amount of time in solitude.
Before the pandemic alone time had been a choice that I took for granted and looked forward to. I thoroughly enjoyed breaking away from people and just being able to recharge my batteries doing whatever helped me to relax and reenergize. That could be catching a good movie, catching up on some of my favorite pre-recorded reality TV series, ordering takeout, binge-watching a show, trying a new recipe etc. Whatever my heart desired, I did it and I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom. However, being forced to be in solitude because of the pandemic was a totally different experience. There's but so much rest and relaxation that you can do before even that becomes a bore. I soon found myself exhausted by the end of the day. Yes, I was tired because now I had to homeschool two seven year olds when they were with me but this was a different kind of exhaustion one that I had even when the kids weren't with me, this was something unfamiliar. I was able to pinpoint what the problem was; I got energy from interactions, people were my fuel. I drew energy from people, being able to talk to people face to face. Having that human to human bond gave me energy that I thrived off of, it gave me creative energy to come up with new ideas to work my job and to also run my business from day to day, but more importantly interacting with people gave me the energy to get through the day on a personal level.
I soon had to learn how to create and draw from my own energy stores and that meant creating a new routine. My new routine consists of meditating daily, exercising often, keeping a gratitude journal, changing my diet, and forming a stronger spiritual bond . These changes really made a huge impact on the way that I viewed this new normal. I realized that even in my solitude, I had been still creating distractions from what I really needed and that was to get to know myself on a deeper level and to silence my inner critic. Let's take a look at what research says about solitude and the psychological health benefits once embraced;
You become more self-reliant. Family, friends and co-workers are some of the people that you spend the majority of your time with. It's no wonder that you become reliant on them when you need emotional support. When you go through life changes it's easier to deal with things like heart-break, job loss, traumatic experiences when you have a trusty support group. However, when you are alone you are forced to learn ways to soothe yourself which helps you to become more self-reliant.
Solitude increases self-confidence. You don't have the influence of others around to help you make decisions, therefore, you are making decisions on your own. If you make a bad decision, it's better to learn from your own mistakes. You then begin to trust yourself when you have the ability to solve your own problems. In time your fear for making important life decisions on your own will grow less and less, after all mistakes are a natural part of life.
The most important part of being solitude in my opinion is the chance to get to know yourself on a deeper level and to learn to love the person that you are or the new person that you are coming into. Who are we kidding, we all have had a human need to belong at one point or another in our lives. This groupish type of behavior causes us to want to say and do things that we think is acceptable because we have a need to be loyal. When you are alone, there is no one to please, you do not have to try to fit in, and the only voice that is heard is the one that is in your head. That voice is your true self and you should intentionally listen to your own guidance.
We all should learn to embrace our solitude. Running away from it keeps us stuck in places that are not healthy. It keeps us in bad relationships, around people that we don't really like, we force ourselves to engage in activities that are not really enjoyable just to not be alone. To live a happy, meaningful life that's full of purpose we must first know who we are and love we are. A group of friends, family members or colleagues do not have the ability to do that for you. This is something that is learned in solitude.