Does the trash seem to go out more than you do these days? Okay, the weekend is finally here, and you have no plans whatsoever. How does that make you feel? Do you feel anxious, or can you hardly wait to curl up with that new book, binge-watch your all-time favorite show, or listen to your newest downloads? Wow, some couch and pajama quiet time – finally.
This world of ours never seems to sleep. And we are nothing if we don’t have a vast network of friends, right? Do you ever set time aside to just be with yourself? Do you even want to? Sometimes we need to carve out some alone time for our sanity. Sounds too selfish to you? Taking some time for yourself is just the opposite. It may ultimately make your relationships even better. It is actually a form of self-care.
True self-love comes from doing things that support your mental, physical, and spiritual growth. Trust me, it’s okay to abandon the contact of your fellow humans for a bit. But whatever you do, don’t try this in front of your kids. The quickest way for you to get your child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable. Heh. Then again, if you get too lost, try leaving this note on the door: “If I ever go missing, please follow my kids. They can find me no matter where I try to hide.”
But in all seriousness: Take a personal “sanity day” off from work if you can. Self-care makes us calmer and happier in the long run. It helps prevent burnout and overload, which makes our fuses short for anyone within two feet of us. That includes husbands, wives, and even kids. You know the feeling: Your “Mom” voice gets so loud that even the neighbor’s kid brushes his teeth and gets dressed.
If you take some time just for yourself, your mind and body finally have a chance to rest and recuperate. And what better way to increase self-awareness than to go solo for a bit. Sure, tuning in to our thoughts can be scary at first. Who knows what our minds will cook up without all those distractions, eh? But how about those pleasant memories you can conjure up, not to mention using that underused imagination of yours. Heck, you may just find that you get unexpected flashes of creative insight.
Do you know the difference between solitude and loneliness? Do folks call you anti-social or assume you are sad if you choose to spend time on your own? How about we look at some benefits of solitude? If you feel you always need to be “on,” your brain may need some time to reboot. We humans tend to get quite distracted by the unending flow of information; whether from people or our beloved phones.
And admit it. It’s plum exhausting always trying to keep everyone happy, soothing their fragile egos, and thinking of ways to make them laugh. Interacting with family and friends can become pretty mentally taxing. Uh, oh. You looked around and saw no one but yourself. Don’t fret. The only person’s happiness you have to worry about at the moment is your own.
Sometimes you just want to disengage from the world. The news is nothing but anxiety-provoking. The mall is way too crowded; there is traffic everywhere and getting a parking spot is a hope, dream, and illusion. So you decided to spend some quality time with yourself and now you are pacing around the house wondering what the heck to do with it. No hobbies? Reading, painting, gardening, skateboarding, learning how to knit? G’head and find one, please.
Take the time to absorb what is around and within you. Gently ask yourself: “What is my body telling me? How do I feel today?” Have you done anything just for yourself lately? If you did, try not telling anyone, and relish it just for yourself. You may need to learn to ask yourself for advice for a change. Say to yourself: If I knew the answer to this problem, what would it be? Trust yourself – yes, you.
Talk to yourself, but don’t answer. Unless you’re like me. You don’t just talk to yourself. You talk to yourself, get into a debate, lose – and then refuse to speak to yourself the rest of the day.
But seriously, when was the last time you tuned in to your Inner Voice? You know, the one that is literally there all day; but gets drowned out by all the people talking around you? The way you talk to yourself, sweet friends, will shape who you are and how you feel more than anything else in the world.
The truth is that we all get but a few short trips around the sun, and then the show is over. So realize that in a life that is filled with chaos and noise, we can also choose “quiet.” We are all guilty of mindlessly consuming our food, TV shows, and spending endless hours surfing the web for absolutely nothing at all. Instead of reaching for temporary comfort, use your aloneness to pay attention.
Society may convince you that everything is built for “two”; but you can cherish your own company with a bit of practice. Perhaps it’s time to learn to treat yourself well, too. Remember: Surrounding yourself with people you love is not the same as depending on them for your happiness or self-worth.
So g’head and fill in the blank: “When I am alone, I feel_____.” Take it nice and easy and spread some of the salve of solitude on your day.
Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens. She works with individuals, couples, and families. Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends. She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at Safehavenhealing@gmail.com or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.