By Morgan Bundrant
Solitude is creativity’s best friend, and solitude is refreshment for our souls.
Many definitions for “self-care” exist. The International Self-Care Foundation defines it as, “what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness.” In a more practical sense, I like to think of it as what you do to take care of yourself, to maintain your mental and physical health. This means something different for every person. For the ISCF, it means a combination of seven activities — knowledge & health literacy, self-awareness of physical and mental condition, physical activity, healthy eating, risk avoidance or mitigation (quitting tobacco, getting vaccinated, etc.), good hygiene, and rational use of self-care products and services (prescription medicines and substance control).
Spending time alone is also a way to take care of ourselves. You may say you are too busy. But, the busier you are the more likely you need to spend time alone, which has its benefits. The problem is that most people don’t have enough time to seclude themselves, as important as it is. Here’s how to work some alone time into your life:
1. Define what “enough” time looks like
A good way to judge how much time you need alone is by how tired you get from being around people. If being around people drains your energy, then you need more time alone. This time should be spent productively, as it’s when you have the most energy. If being around people gives you energy, then the time you spend alone should be spent relaxing.
To spend enough time alone, you have to evaluate how much time you need, and what you should do to replenish and recharge yourself. For example, if your life is mentally draining, maybe engage in a hobby to let the mind go passive, while still being productive. If your life is physically draining, maybe journaling will give your thoughts somewhere to go rather than staying in your head.
2. Trust the people in your life enough to be alone
Most people can work alone time into their schedules. If you know it’s important for your health and personal sustainability, make it a priority. The next step is to trust that the world will keep spinning fine if you leave the people in your life alone. Establishing this connection and trust takes time. Working alone time into my schedule was a huge barrier for me. I have people who depend on me as well as other obligations such as working at my job and chores I need to do.
Once I started scheduling out an hour at a time to be alone, the people in my life worked around it, and now it’s not even questioned.
3. Know how to ask for time alone
Many people don’t make time to be alone out of fear that wanting to be alone is selfish and indulgent, or that it could offend people. They might think you don’t want to spend time with them. This is normal, valid, and avoidable. All it requires is using the right language when you’re asking for time alone so that the people in your life know it’s not personal. When I need time alone, I usually kindly say that I need some personal time to relax.
4. Know the importance of time alone
For most people, spending time alone is essential for sorting out thoughts, resting the mind, and exploring ideas. This time is when activities like journaling, meditation, yoga, art, and pondering can flourish. They don’t have the influence of any other person. Also, this is when you get to know yourself, improve yourself, and explore your ideas.
Alone time may not be at the top of your self-care list, but it’s important for a happy and balanced life. It also doesn’t have to be a luxury! We can all make time to care for ourselves, especially if we are responsible for the care of other people. See what works for you! And good luck on your journey to a healthier body and mind!
Morgan Bundrant is a full time Environmental and Legal Studies student at the University of California Santa Cruz. Morgan works at the first non-transactional cafe in the country, the Cowell Coffee Shop: For the Peoples!