This month’s health article is about mental health, as opposed to physical health. Your mental health is just as important, as I believe everything begins in your mind. This article will explain why doing things for yourself is so important in maintaining good health.
Research shows that people who are committed to spending time alone experience increased happiness, and they know how to manage stress better than people who don’t spend time alone.
We are in constant communication all day. Between smartphones, internet, social media, etc., we can’t escape being in touch with the world. Recent surveys suggest we check our phones an average of 52 times a day. The readily available information provided via social media may seem to make us more productive, but keep in mind, it can lead us to sacrifice something that may benefit us more – time for ourselves. Time to decompress. Time to recharge our own mind and body.
Here are 5 benefits of solitude that may encourage you to cancel plans or to put down the technology. All in the name of a better, healthier you.
Improves mental health
Research shows that people who put aside time to be alone experience increased happiness and learn how to deal with stress better. Accepting “alone time” and learning to enjoy “alone time” helps to reduce depression because you learn to appreciate that time.
Deliberately putting time aside to be alone can also help increase your creative powers. The best authors and artists in the world spend time alone because it allows the mind to wander and to spark new ideas.
Need another reason to schedule out time for yourself? You can boost your self-esteem by choosing time alone for personal reflection and goal setting. If you suddenly find yourself alone, unplanned, this can lead to feeling lonely or depressed. If it is time intentionally planned, you will use this time in a way you choose, which will lead you to feeling better about yourself.
Creates empathy for others
When you are constantly with people you are in what is called, “group mentality,” meaning that you are being influenced by those around you. When you have time to reflect, you can think for yourself and you can empathize and find compassion for others. Again, when with a group of people, it is harder to reflect and think of others without being interrupted.
Heightens emotional intelligence
When you are busy, we act or react rashly. We don’t stop to think. Our instinct is to just react. Spending time alone gives you more time to reflect on your feelings and become self-aware. Take time for yourself, so you can clarify your emotions and help determine why you feel the way you do.
Below are some ways to create more time for reflection.
- Plan or schedule out time for yourself, just like you would for a meeting or lunch with a friend.
- Close your door. It’s a simple but effective way to make time for yourself. It doesn’t have to be rude. Put a note on your door saying that you are busy for the next hour. Shut the door and the world out. Meditate, read, pray, color, etc. Do something that clears your mind and gives you time to reflect.
- Take up a new activity or make time for an old hobby. Take a fitness class. Try a new recipe. Watch a classic movie you love. Call an old friend. There are many ways to decompress.
- Learn to delegate. Ask family, friends, and colleagues to do things for you. You may find it hard at first, but you’ll not only have more time, you’ll also feel less resentful of others leaving everything to you.
- Learn to just say no. This is a hard one, especially for ‘people pleasers.’ However, saying “no” is the most effective way to gain time and energy. Cut out activities that drain your energy and time. Don’t waste your energy on people who take, and take without giving back.
- Take five minutes a day doing something you enjoy. Play an instrument. Listen to your favorite music or song. Chat with a friend. Gradually increase the time from five to ten to fifteen minutes per day and you will find that you are more relaxed. When you feel relaxed, you are much more productive in other areas in your life. Being stressed doesn’t benefit anyone. It actually has the reverse effect on your health. Finding time for you is not selfish. It’s the exact opposite. People, especially moms, feel guilty about doing something for themselves. The reality is that doing something for yourself makes you a happier, more relaxed human being. You are then a better parent, sister, friend, co-worker, etc. There is nothing selfish about finding time for yourself. It can be a great idea, and one that will benefit YOU!
“Time to relax is when you don’t have time to relax.”
“An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.”