The benefits of solitude include everything from stress relief and relaxation, to introspection and creative inspiration. We all need a little time to ourselves every now and then, but personal lives and work schedules can make that seem nearly impossible on a daily basis.
You don’t need hours and hours. Even just five minutes taken out of your busy day can benefit you. The trick is finding the time for solitude, and remembering to take it when your mind is already racing from everything you’ve done and everything you still have to do.
It’s possible for even the busiest of people to find some quiet time for themselves each day. Here are some tips on how to do that.
Visualize your day.
Solitude starts with visualizing where you’re going and where you’ll be so you can predict breaks or environmental advantages. Do this in the morning and consider doing it at the same time you plan out your to-do list or write your daily journal entry — if you do those things, which you should!
Consider whether you can be the first of your household to get home from work/school, whether you can spare some time to sit quietly in your parked car, or whether you can postpone something for at least another day to free up more time. Work solitude-friendly opportunities like these into your to-do list if you can so you don’t forget.
Be alone with others.
It’s certainly possible to feel alone while surrounded by others when you interpret solitude as more of an emotional state rather than a physical state. For example, a yoga class brings many students and teachers together in one room to practice together, but the practice is still very independent and personal.
You can achieve emotional solitude among strangers while sitting in a coffee shop, walking in a park, or reading in a library. Just keep in mind that if physical solitude isn’t an option, you can still make it work on an emotional level.
Nobody ever said that your sacred time for solitude has to be spent sitting in silent meditation without moving an inch. You can combine your alone time with other activities and chores, and in fact, you can actually use them as excuses to be alone!
Offer to get the next coffee run at work so you can get away from your busy work environment for a few minutes. Tell your spouse you’d like to go do a bit of organizing in the spare bedroom of your home. If you can get creative with breaking away for a bit and be a little productive at the same time, people around you will be more than happy to let you go do your thing.
Ask others for help.
When life just gets hectic and you seriously can’t catch a moment to be by yourself no matter what you do, tell others around you that you need it, and ask for support. Most of all, don’t feel ashamed for asking. It’s not selfish, and it’s definitely not a sign of weakness.
If you work in an open office environment, ask your boss if there’s some way you can create more privacy at your workspace, or if there’s somewhere you can go periodically for a brief moment — like an empty meeting room. If you’re wrangling the kids 24/7 and seriously need a break, ask your spouse or a family member to take them off your hands for a bit. Just ask, because you never know how helpful people can be until you do it!
When you do get that precious chunk of time to be in solitude, don’t waste it getting caught up in thoughts or falling victim to distraction. Breathe, become aware of your body and your surroundings, and enjoy those moments of peace.