There is a growing amount of research that validates the benefits of being alone.
Now, we’re not talking about being alone for life, or loneliness, but rather a nice healthy dose of solitude.
Unfortunately, solitude is tough to come by these days.
Social networking has taken care of that. Facebook and the like have only been with us for a few years, but already it seems like you can’t live without them.
It’s hard to imagine that at one time you didn’t hear about what people were eating or reading on a daily basis, or how much fun they were having at the gym, at their boyfriends house, at the mall, at the concert.
You didn’t have to hear--all, the, time--about how much someone loves his significant other, how blessed she is, how over her last boyfriend she is, how many pieces of broccoli he’s had in between workout routines.
And you didn’t feel the need to share the same. Don’t feel bad. We all do it.
We’ve all become our own publicists. But all that being on display has some tangible consequences. We’re becoming more anxious, and less able to be alone. And our stress levels increase because we are constantly grooming a social persona.
One of the benefits of solitude is a sense of freedom. According to a 2003 study by Christopher Long and James Averill, solitude produces, “a state of reduced social inhibition and increased freedom to select one’s mental and physical activities.
In other words, when no one is watching you can be yourself. Not your ideal self, not your Facebook self, but the person you are when you’re not on a revolving first date with the rest of the world.
And a sense of personal freedom is not the only thing improved by solitude according to the study. Creativity and greater interpersonal intimacy are also consequences of taking time out for yourself.
But please, if you decide to wean yourself off the social networking teat, do not, whatever you do, make solitude your status update.