The Art of Solitude


By Lisa Autz

Photo courtesy of anoldent.

The French scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote that, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Though this may seem like a gross exaggeration, according to psychologists most people would greatly benefit from more “me time” in their lives.

Take it from Leanne Hall, a clinical psychologist and the Mind & Body expert for Channel 10’s lifestyle and entertainment show called The Living Room in Australia, who explains to BTR that taking a few moments to recalibrate by yourself is vital to your health and identity.

“Alone time is one of the ways we can get to know ourselves better,” says Hall. “The benefits include an increased self-awareness and self-esteem, more fulfilling relationships, and much lower stress levels.”

In some cases, according to Hall, it can also increase someone’s ability to manage emotions and tolerate negativity.

Hall has been a practicing clinical psychologist for over 15 years and has created a holistic method in bringing wellness to both the mind and body in what she calls, The Magic Trio: Mental Health, Nutrition, and Exercise. It’s a life plan to prioritize health above all, which she has found over the years that many people do not do.

In the hyper-social world we live in today, the art of solitude can be increasingly difficult and even frightening to most. The risk of our innermost thoughts coming to light persists a type of phobia toward being alone and may cause someone to strike it off as being “anti-social.”

Hall emphasizes not giving in to such social pressures and making your mental health paramount over the need to be at every social gathering.

“Developing and asserting your own healthy boundaries is important,” says Hall. And it starts by “learning to say no, and not feeling guilty about it!”

She details how important it is especially for the youth growing up in an age of persistent connection. If time isn’t being taken alone, there risks a lack of consciousness toward the surrounding world.

“We become more mindful and aware of our own behavior and how it impacts on loved ones,” says Hall of solidarity. “It allows time to process situations and events–and consider the impact our behavior has on others.”

This brings into fruition overall healthier relationships as well as we becoming more self-aware and independent of others for personal validity.

Leanne Hall. Photo courtesy of Leanne Hall.

“Learning to tolerate alone time also means we become less dependent on loved ones for a healthy self-esteem,” says Hall. “Instead, we become responsible for our own self-esteem, which then puts far less pressure on relationships and improves communication.”

We end up focusing on listening instead of searching for a way to enhance our ego in a relationship, adds Hall. Being altogether anti-social is a much different concept than scheduling in some time to recharge. Hall explains in an article in Women’s Agenda that anti-social behavior is a personality disorder that disregards people in a way that usually lacks empathy.

However, spending time alone is about getting in touch with those precise values that allow you to be empathetic. The first step can be to find that place in your schedule to spend just a few minutes alone every week.

“Start by forward planning and scheduling in some alone time,” says Hall. “Establish a routine whereby each night before bed, you take a bath or meditate. It only has to be 10 [minutes]!”

Setting limits around social media and technology use is important as well. Overall, learning to tune into your mind will help you slow down and prioritize your health before your workload.

Social interaction can actually be physically addictive especially with the pressure of so many external factors telling us to connect. The same gasping pains of emptiness in the process of quitting cigarettes are similarly felt when we are isolated from this socializing.

But, like the health, energy, and vitality that comes with ridding yourself of an addiction, “alone time” can bring a vitality to your wellbeing that your body and mind have needed.