It seems that it has required a pandemic for many of us to appreciate spending time on our own.
New research has revealed that thousands of people actually enjoyed the forced alone time during the first lockdown and felt better about it.
According to results published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, time alone during the pandemic led to positive effects on well-being, regardless of age.
The survey of more than 2,000 British adults and teenagers showed that most people experienced the benefits of loneliness in the early days of the pandemic.
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Everyone experienced the ups and downs of being alone, but the researchers found that the descriptions of loneliness contained more positive effects than negative ones.
Although a handful of participants said that their mood had deteriorated or their well-being had been affected, most described their alone time in terms of feeling competent or the feeling of independence.
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In fact, 43% of respondents claimed that they had used lockdown on learning new skills and activities, which was a consistency across all age groups.
Meanwhile, the adult participants reported twice as many feelings of autonomy and more specifically a stronger sense of self during the lockdown.
In a commentary on the results of the study’s lead author Dr. Netta Weinstein, an associate professor of psychology at Reading University, said: “Our paper shows that aspects of loneliness, a positive way of describing being alone, are recognized across all ages as a benefit to our well-being.
“The conventional wisdom is that teens in general found out that the pandemic was a negative experience, but we see in our study how components of loneliness can be positive.
“We know that many people rediscovered the connection to hobbies and interests or increasingly valued nature on walks and bike rides at that time, and the elements of what we describe as ‘self-determined motivation’, where we choose to spend time alone for ourselves, is apparently a critical aspect of positive well-being. “
According to Francesca Specter, author of Alonement: How to be alone and completely own it and course creators at Podcast to Platform, the forced time in lockdown allowed many of us to rediscover some joy of being alone.
“In a Western society that praises bustle and sociability, alone time often falls to the bottom of our ‘to do’ list,” she explains.
“However, the pandemic rewrote the rulebook as lockdown meant that our social calendars were cleared out at the last minute, while work from home removed the pressure of being a social butterfly in the office. It was truly an unprecedented time when hamster wheels of social pressure were removed . “
Specter points out that while many of us might never have discovered the joys of alone time if it had not been for the pandemic, its unexpected appeal will come as no surprise to social scientists.
“A study published last year by Bar-Ilan University showed that alone time contributes to personal growth and mental well-being, just as much as socializing does,” she continues. “Researchers have found that both states – loneliness, social interaction – have different benefits for our well-being, and so in an ideal world we will appreciate and allow time for both.”
And now that the lockdown has been lifted and we are able to reach more of a balance, Specter says it provides an exciting opportunity to recalibrate and get a balance between the social connection we have always known to value and the loneliness we may have only begun to appreciate in the last few years.
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How to get the most out of alone time
Set time in your calendar for solo time
We often make social plans and then just let solo time happen in the holes, but by thinking proactively about the time you want to spend alone, Specter says it can confirm that alone time is just as valuable, not just a plan B. “This allows you to make the most of this time (for example, a quiet Sunday to cook for a week or Monday night to work out,” she suggests.
Make a loneliness date with yourself
Just as much as it’s great to date other people in your life, it’s invigorating to know that you can enjoy and celebrate your own company – and even do your favorite things alone. “Especially because for once it means you do not have to compromise,” Specter explains. “Schedule a special loneliness date every now and then, for example, to watch a movie you’re excited about, or to cook yourself a meal you love but don’t get very often.”
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Communicate about your alone time
There is a big difference between ambiguously telling your partner ‘I need space’ and respectfully explaining that you value alone time and that it is not about them. “Advocating for your alone time should never come at the expense of the feelings of others; done well, it can actually improve your relationships and encourage people close to you to also occasionally enjoy some alone time,” Specter explains.
Use your alone time to find the right self-care
Within the main space of loneliness, Dr. says. Audrey Tang, a trained psychologist, mental health expert and author of The Leader’s Guide to Resilience, states that you can think about your personal needs without the influence of others, and this can be very effective when it comes to yourself. care.
“By habit you can hear ‘self-care’ and think spa day or meditation. But whatever gives you energy or relaxes you best (at the time you need it), it will be the most effective for you,” says she.
“Remember that if we are anxious, then something relaxing can be most effective, and if we feel down, then an energizer may be best.”
Dr. Tang says that being aware of what you need means that you get there faster. “Do it now, and as your commitments grow, you will know what will give you the energy – or calm – to embrace them and even thrive.”
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Start exploring and set your personal goals.
While you may be tentative because our recent experience is “anything can change,” having a focus, with flexibility or alternatives, means you have something to work for and look forward to. “Try writing down your goals, then breaking them down into smaller steps – some of which you may be able to start right now,” suggests Dr. Seaweed. “Breaking down what you want or need to do can prevent these things from becoming overwhelming.”
Another benefit of doing this, she says, is that by having something you know you are aiming for, you are less likely to feel compelled to “fill your alone time” with dealing with other people’s psychodramas. , just because you “have to do something”.
Schedule in development time
Dr. Tang suggests that you plan for yourself every day – make this commitment to yourself as important as your commitments to others. “Whether you spend that time meditating, taking a class, reading or just having a cup of tea (while it’s still hot) – clearing some headspace will also help you be more effective when you release the pause button,” she adds.
Additional reporting SWNS.
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