Spending time with other people is important. That’s not merely a blanket statement with no substance to support it. Studies routinely confirm that an active social life plays a crucial role in a person’s mental and physical health.
That said, it’s also important to not disregard the benefits of solitude. While people shouldn’t spend all their time away from others, a little bit of isolation can be a good thing. The following are key reasons why:
3 Benefits of Solitude (Backed by Research)
Learning About Yourself
This is a difficult concept to explain, but it’s one that many researchers have focused on in recent years. Quite simply, when you’re in any sort of social setting, you aren’t strictly yourself. You’re instead whoever you are in that context. For example, if you’re a mother spending time with her children, you’re a parent in that situation. If you’re hanging out with coworkers, you’re a fellow employee.
When you’re by yourself, you’re just you. This gives you an opportunity to learn how the various social contexts of your life shape your behavior and self-perception. In some instances, that can help a person make life changes. Solitude could teach you that a particular social context is limiting your potential.
Helping with Self-Regulation
It’s worth noting that spending time alone doesn’t have to have a harmful impact on your social life. On the contrary, some researchers have found that spending more time by yourself can actually improve your social interactions over time.
This is because spending time in solitude helps people develop the skills they need to regulate their own emotions. When you’re alone with your thoughts and feelings, you’re more aware of them. That means you have more opportunities to exercise a degree of control over how you think or feel about particular situations.
This helps later on. When you’re socializing with others, your self-regulation skills will help you determine if you’re talking too much (or not enough), overreacting to perceived slights, making insensitive comments, and much more. Once again, when you spend time with yourself, you learn about yourself. That’s key to making lasting changes.
Some of the greatest benefits of solitude are practical in nature. For instance, researchers have often found that, all other factors being equal, people who spend time alone are often more likely to develop certain strong talents than their peers. These talents can include playing an instrument, painting, cooking, or doing anything else that requires practice.
It’s easy to understand why this is the case. Although some skills are easier to develop with help from others, there are also many abilities that a person is more likely to cultivate when they have the opportunity to devote alone time to them.
Of course, that highlights an important point. Solitude isn’t inherently positive by itself. To reap the benefits of solitude, you need to use the time wisely. Whether you’re developing a skill or taking time to reflect on who you are and how you behave, if you value your alone time, you’ll likely experience major rewards.