Why It's Okay To Spend Time Alone
Self-Care. Did you even know this was a thing? I love this generation of women who are not apologizing for wanting to be what us older women would call "selfish". Instead they are celebrating life, wanting more for themselves, and creating a movement of achieving personal growth and internal awareness.
I recently saw a post in one of the groups I follow on Facebook. It's filled with 30-something entrepreneurs and the post was called "Self-Care Sunday". I've been doing it for years just because if I didn't, I would probably have eaten a bullet a long time ago.
Is it okay to ask your family to go away for a while so you can have some space?
My opinion: Hell yeah! I'm no martyr.
This post is about being okay with needing some time alone and getting what you need. It's also called self-care and it's a necessary human need.
Do you ever feel like you're suffocating? If you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed, maybe it's time for some "you time".
“Sometimes when I’m driving all by myself I have this fantasy that I get into a car crash – not a big one with fire and explosions – but just like a little one but I do get injured and I get to go to the hospital for two weeks and I sleep all day and I eat jello and I watch sooo much TV and it’s all covered by my insurance and my kids bring me balloons and the nurses rub cream on my feet and oh my God it’s so amazing.” This was one of my favorite lines in the movie "Bad Moms" said by Kristen Bell’s character.
This post is prompted by a thread in one of my 40-something women entrepreneur Facebook groups. The mom was talking about how she was doing everything for her family. Chores, kids, shopping, meals, as well as, taking care of her ailing mother. Her husband was disabled I think – or unable or unwilling to help. She was desperate for some time away so she could recharge and relax but she felt so conflicted. She thought it was her job to take care of everyone’s needs, all day, every day and she shouldn’t want or need to take time for herself.
I crave time alone. I start to get agitated easily, foggy, tired, and resentful if I don’t get to spend some time alone – in the house, all by myself, surrounded by quiet nothingness. Sometimes even if I can just be in a room by myself with the door closed and no one talking to me or asking things of me can be enough to satisfy my need for alone time.
Things that happen when we spend time alone:
- Pressure to perform subsides – we can relax, shut down, reboot
- Our creativity is allowed to flourish – distractions are gone and imagination takes over
- Resolutions to problems become clear – time to think alone can help us sort things out
- We discover what makes us happy – we can tune in to our own needs
- Builds confidence – learning to enjoy being alone helps us become independent
- We accomplish more – it’s easier to stay on task when there are no distractions
- We become more relaxed – as we relax we become more tolerant of people and things
I love my family but once in a while it’s truly magical to have time to myself, and yes, I have to ASK for it. Sometimes I get eye-rolls, but I don't let that deter me.
I hadn’t spent much time alone in my youth because I had a big family and someone was always around. My grandmother lived with us and was specifically there to keep an eye on us while my parents were working.
When I was in high school one of my most memorable assignments was in my psychology class. The assignment was to go to a public place alone; the movies, a restaurant, shopping. I was terrified at first but I forced myself to do it. It was an eye-opening experience because I was able to really connect with my inner-self. Since that experience, I have never been afraid to be by myself in any situation.
It’s healthy to teach our kids how to be alone and not need our constant attention as well. My daughter Claire loves her time alone and looks forward to the weekends when she can “recharge her battery”. I’m so glad she has tuned into what makes her happy.
I love my family and love spending time with them but the key to me loving them is getting away from them from time to time. It serves us all to have solitude. Here’s a helpful article that explains the benefits 6 Reasons You Should Spend More Time Alone
My husband has a tough time understanding why there are times when I need my space and I’ve had a tough time finding the words to describe why I need it.
I describe it like this. I am a woman. Women are caregivers. I am constantly in “care-giver” mode when my people are around me. When I’m alone, I only have to worry about myself and that alleviates stress and restores my energy. It doesn’t mean I forget about them when they’re not around. It just means I can conserve the energy I usually expel while caring for them and I can focus on me for a while.
He's getting much better with it as time goes on. If needing some space is not something you've expressed before, it may be met with resistance. Take it slow, be kind, explain why, understand their perspective, and if your spouse/kids still have a hard time...throw a temper tantrum and beg, scream, and/or cry.
I’ve seen a trend of men who have also become caregivers and you guys may need to start carving out “you time” as well.
When I come back, or when they come back, I’m excited to see them because I’ve missed seeing their sweet faces. I now have more energy, love, and passion to go around.
Some ideas for getting much-needed alone time:
- Go see a movie by yourself and get the big bucket of popcorn. Or bring your favorite snack if you’re watching your figure and your budget.
- Plan a day around you. Go shopping for a few new pieces to add to your wardrobe, even if it’s just accessories and then eat out at your favorite café.
- Drop the kids at the health club child care center and enjoy the sauna or hot tub for an hour.
- Sit in your car on your lunch hour and meditate. Make sure you’re parked in a safe place. I have to set an alarm because I can’t relax worrying about getting back on time.
- In-home spa day. Take a long relaxing bubble bath, paint your nails, give yourself a facial.
- Download an app with nature sounds, close your eyes, and imagine you are relaxing in the middle of the rainforest or on the beach. I’ve been using White Noise for years. Again, set an alarm.
- Discover a hobby (maybe gardening) and take time out each week to enjoy yourself.
- Yoga – I recently started yoga and I LOVE IT! It helps every aspect of my life.
I do feel a twinge of guilt when I ask for my space. I don’t think that will ever go away but I still ask for it because I know it helps me cope with the stress of daily life being a mom, and a wife, and a daughter, and a friend.
Search for times throughout your day to carve out a little “you-time”. I hope you can get some time away regularly doing something that gives you joy.
What types of activities do you do when you carve out time for yourself?