How to be okay with doing things alone
It can be difficult to do things by ourselves when we live in a busy world filled with people. We are taught at a young age that if we eat lunch alone we are outcasts. We can't make it to the high school dance if we have no one to go with because we would be considered "weird" or "loners." We are molded in some way to believe that spending time alone is something negative, and that it is a bad thing to do. But as an extroverted therapist, I am writing to say that spending some time alone is just what the doctor ordered. Being alone doesn't have to feel lonely.
Most people dislike being by themselves because it feels lonely. When people feel lonely they sometimes feel depressed. I've heard many people say "I don't want to be alone, that would be depressing." But can one day of being alone lead to depression? Well it depends on who you ask. If you ask the person who craves a group of friends and a partner then yes one day alone will lead to depression because they have been batteling feelings of loneliness for a while. Although it is healthy to spend some time alone there should be some contact with others. Spending time with others is great for social and emotional development, emotional support, and increased mood and self-esteem. When we are around supportive people we feel better and perform better in different areas of our life.
It's helpful to have a support network but spending time alone with youself is needed. You need to learn how to be comfortable in your own company. When you are confident in who you are you also attract better people. It might be hard for you to want to be alone when you notice others have a more appealing and interesting life on social media. Those people seem to have it all together, are never alone, and the true social butterflies. We want to be like them. But the truth is social media is only a small glimpse into someone's life and that glimpse sometimes is altered. One way to make yourself be despressed and despise spending any time alone is when you begin to compare your life to what you see on social media. You are comparing yourself to the person who is always out socializing but you don't know what emotions and struggles they are experiencing behind the camera.
We are told that if we spend time alone we will be depressed. People with depression are more likely to experience alcoholism, isolation, low energy, change in appetite, poor sleep, etc. According to the National Institute of Health loneliness could lead to numerous psychiatric disorders such as depression and contribute to alcohol abuse. Most people who land in support groups such as Alcohol Anonymous have experienced loneliness and depression. Does this mean if you experience loneliness you suddenly become an alcoholic? No. Alcoholism does not develop in one day and from one time of being alone. There are many contributing variables to the development of alcoholism. Being alone for one day doesn't make you an alcoholic.
Spending some time alone doesn't have to be lonely. You can learn to be okay with alone time.
Once you learn to spend some time alone you will notice a change in your outlook on life.
Six fun things to do alone that will help you enjoy your own company from an extroverted therapist:
1. Start reading. You can enjoy fiction, self-help books, romance, mystery, sports, etc. It doesn't matter but read. When you read your world doesn't feel so lonely. Spending half a day or the first 30 minutes of your morning reading can help frame your mindset for the day.
Therapist recommended reads are:
2. Go on a walk. Yes, you read that right start walking. Walking has many benefits for your mental health. Walking provides mental clarity, helps regulate emotions, cardiovascular activity, and who doesn't benefit from time in nature. Walking is one of the easiest solo activities you can do and no one is judging you. Grab a comfy pair of leggings and start moving. Your mind and body will thank you.
3. Come to your local coffee shop. You can order some coffee and read a self-help book or grab a coffee and gowalking. If you enjoy making coffee at home you can your coffee with you to a park and people watch, to a book store and read, or out on a walk. Drinking coffee for some is a treat. We pick up coffee on our way to work or study and it becomes part of our busy routine, but maybe attempting to grab coffee and enjoy the slowness,
4. Grab a table for one. I know eating alone at a restaurant can be intimidating, but hear me out it's life-changing. It seems like the entire world and their grandmother is watching you order your bowl of pasta or that fancy acaia bowl but I promise you: No One Cares. Eating alone in a restaurant is empowering. If going out to dinner is too intimidating then start small. Grab a sandwich and eat outside or start off at a bakery and then work your way up to ordering a bigger meal. Remember you are your own best company.
5. Go to the movies alone. If you want to save some coins and avoid the busy crowds, you can go to the movies on Tuesday. Most Cinemark movie theaters do half-off tickets on a Tuesday night. Grab your popcorn and watch a nice movie. No one will judge.
6. Find a new hobby and go do it. This could be taking salsa lessons, painting class, pottery class, indoor rock climbing, yoga class, pilates, music class, etc. Whatver that might be just go. You could meet new people there who are also going alone, but the point is that by going alone you will feel empowered and enjoy the time. After you begin doing things alone you will start to see a shift in your life outlook.
Learning to enjoy your own company
Most people avoid doing things alone out of fear of feeling lonely and becoming depressed. Learning to enjoy your company is a process, but you don't have to live your life thinking alone time is bad. It's all about balance. If you notice that during your alone time you feel lonely, sit with those emotions. You can also talk to a professional therapist if you notice that you are struggling with spending alone time.
Speaking to a licensed therapist when you feel lonely or afraid of spending time alone could assist you find your way to the root of the problem. A professional therapist in San Jose, CA can help you to understand why you feel lonely or afraid when spending time alone. Participating in therapy in Silicon Valley can also provide you with strategies to manage depression and help to reduce negative thoughts and emotions. Furthermore, a counselor can help you to develop coping skills to manage difficult situations and create healthy habits that can lead to a more positive outlook on life.
You will have plenty of time to be with people, but spend time with you. Alone time can be hard time but those are the moments that you will grow from. This extroverted therapist encourages you to be with you.
Additional Mental Health Resources for dealing with depression: