What is solitude?
“We have the word loneliness to describe the sadness of being alone, and the word solitude to describe the glory of same” – Paul Tillich
For the purposes of this article, solitude is the voluntary act of withdrawing from distractions to focus on your thoughts, creativity, and personal goals. Solitude is different than being alone, in that it is a conscience choice to set yourself apart. It is different than loneliness in that solitude is enjoyable and profitable.
Why is solitude important?
“Solitude sharpens awareness of small pleasures otherwise lost” – Kevin Patterson
Most of the benefits of solitude are better experienced than explained, but since you asked, here are a few really great reasons to make solitude a habit in your life:
We have a conscious knowledge that we are as unique as a snowflake; it’s a common theme we learn as early as grade school. Yet as we face our mortality, we realize that we have done nothing to even remotely celebrate that uniqueness.
- Boosts creativity. There’s no one to impress, so go ahead, write/draw/paint/sing whatever the heck you want! Without all the pressure to perform, you can take away the mental barriers and road blocks that usually stand in the way of creativity.
- Alleviate depression. This one may come as a surprise, but studies actually show that teens who choose to spend constructive time alone are less likely to struggle with thoughts of depression.
- Recharge/Reflect. Even if you consider yourself an extrovert, taking time out to consider how you actually feel about a situation or problem is really healthy. Even just sitting in silence can be refreshing.
- Boosts self esteem. You know what the greatest thing about spending time with yourself is? Not having to compromise on where to go, what to do, what to eat, what movie to watch, etc. You don’t have to leave too early or stay too late. Your time is your own, and so are your decisions. To some, this may sound totally awesome, and to others it may seem really intimidating. Either way, practice makes perfect, and it’s so liberating to make your own choices and figure what you like, for you.
How do you do it?
Solitude is the salt of personhood. It brings out the authentic flavor of every experience. – May Sarton
1. Make it a priority. As with learning any new skill, or developing a new healthy habit, it’s important to be intentional. Block out time in your week for solitude, find the little spaces of time in your schedule, move some things around, whatever it takes.
2. Disconnect. Once you have the time set aside, prepare a distraction free zone – whatever that means for you. No phone, no internet, no music, a little music, a threatening note tapped to the outside of your bedroom door – whatever would give you the most peace, and the least interruptions.
3. Set goals. Come up with some things you want to accomplish with your newfound solitude. Create some art? Finish the next great American novel? Take a hot bath and read without being disturbed? Whatever it is, find your motivation, measure it out, and set some real goals.
4. … or just do nothing. Sometimes those moments of clarity that we grasp for so desperately come only when we aren’t trying so dang hard. Get out of the house and go lay under the stars, or people watch downtown, or take yourself out to a nice dinner. Goals are good, but sometimes nothing beats just plain old… nothing.2. Disconnect. Once you have the time set aside, prepare a distraction free zone – whatever that means for you. No phone, no internet, no music, a little music, a threatening note tapped to the outside of your bedroom door – whatever would give you the most peace, and the least interruptions.
Need some ambiance for your solitude? Check out these awesome Himalayan Natural Salt Candle Holders, to help de-stress and purify the air!
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