If you don’t believe me, there are tons of folks much smarter than I am who say the same thing!
“Constantly being ‘on’ doesn’t give your brain a chance to rest and replenish itself,” Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D. wrote in Psychology Today. “Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly. It’s an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time.”
A 1997 study found that alone time was key for teens. “Adolescents … who spent an intermediate amount of their time alone were better adjusted than those who spent little or a great deal of time alone,” explained the study, authored by emotional development expert Reed W. Larson.
Maria Shriver has a new book, I’ve Been Thinking . . . Relections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful Life (Link below), where she includes alone time in one of her chapters. She says that some of the best advice she was ever given by a very successful, busy businessman was to always schedule some time each day to be alone. This, coming from someone much busier, time-crunched and in demand, gives pause. There must be something there, right?
So, maybe I have sold you on the benefits. Now the problem is where to find this time to be alone. Here are some ideas:
- Disconnect. Set aside some time each day to unplug from all the ways you connect with others. Turn off your cell phone. Turn off your Internet. Turn off your TV. If you use your computer to create, such as writing, then turn off all those pesky distractions. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can get done when you’re not distracted.
- Get up or Get in Early. Wake up a half hour or an hour earlier than everyone else in your house. Keep it quiet with no TV or email checking. Use this alone time to create, ponder, problem solve, meditate, or whatever makes you happy. You can also get to work before everyone else and use the time the same way.
- Close Your Door. This is so simple but quite magical. An open door is often a magnet for stopper byers, time sucks, distractions, questions and you name it. When I used to practice law there was a certain someone known to come by your office and simply stand there leaning against the door frame. It is really hard to ignore someone just standing there waiting to be engaged in conversation. If I was in the middle of writing a brief, working on a project or using my brain in any meaningful way, any train of thought I might have had would be completely gone. Closing the door is a simple and effective way to get a bit of alone time wherever you are.
- Use Your Lunchtime. Once a week or even once in a while, use your lunchtime for your personal alone time. If you work outside of the home, do not spend it working at your desk or running errends. If you typically go out to lunch with others, schedule your lunch time to be by yourself. Sit, reflect, walk, or do whatever gives you that space to think, create and simply be.
- Schedule solitude. Treat a bit of alone time just like anything else. I tell folks all the time to schedule their workouts just as they would a meeting or appointment. Well, make an appointment with yourself. You don’t have to block our a large chunck of time. Sometimes even ten minutes alone does the trick and any time alone is better than no time.
Regardless of the stage of life you are in, I know it can be so hard to find time to be alone with no distractions. Sometimes it might simply be in your car. Sometimes I enjoy time in my car without the radio – shocker! It is a wonderful way to quiet the mind, release tension and let go of the constant whirling busy brain. Really. Try it.
This week, make time to be alone. Whether it is five minutes in your car or beginning or ending the day, or even making appointment with yourself, make time to spend with yourself.
I would love to hear how you are being alone and how you benefit.
This week winds down our 4 Weeks to Beat Busyness. I hope you have tried at least one and hopefully all activities to get Unbusy with your days, week and life!
Enjoy Your Unbusy Week!
Here’s a look at the Maria Shriver’s book mentioned above!