By Julia Alvira, MD, MBA
We live in a busy world with constant movement. There’s not a stop sign anywhere letting us know that it’s time to take a break. Let’s be honest, even if there was, we tend to get busy with other things, including electronics. We’re so glued to our electronic devices that there are people who sleep with their cell phone under the pillow.
According to writer Thai Nguyen (2015), smartphone users check their device every 6.5 minutes. How crazy is that? There is a constant juggling of priorities. As much as we enjoy the company of others, there are times when we have to be by ourselves. Do we make the time? Sadly, we don’t. The idea is not to cut people from our lives and get isolated or stop enjoying time with them and practice loneliness. I’m talking about really spending time with ourselves and disconnecting from the world for a little while. I’m talking about practicing solitude.
“Without great solitude no serious work is possible.”––Pablo Picasso
Solitude vs. Loneliness
By definition, solitude is the state of being alone without actually being lonely because you have your own company. Author Jane Porter (2015) describes that moments of solitude, when self imposed and fully appreciated, can have profound effects on our productivity and creative thinking. This means it’s an opportunity to focus, to engage with our thoughts, perform deep thinking, soul searching, inner growth, and do some exploring from the inside out. We need to understand that it’s a positive state to be in, while loneliness is a negative state. In solitude, we reconnect with ourselves and like Picasso inferred, it’s when we do our greatest work. In loneliness, we feel sad, depressed, and empty––sometimes with feelings of rejection. We can be surrounded by people and still feel sad and rejected.
According to research, you need solitude in your life. Many people feel that the idea of practicing solitude is boring because there are so many things to do. They’re right. There is so much to do but we all need to feed our brains and our souls to continue the “so much to do.” Whether it’s reading a book, meditating, praying, enjoying some peaceful music, sitting outside relaxing, enjoying the view of the ocean, taking a soul searching trip alone to the mountains…solitude is about reconnecting with yourself and finding balance.
Solitude Effects on Mental Health
Silence makes us hear our inner voice and thoughts. Jerry Lewis, MD, a psychiatrist, presents in his 2009 article about solitude, how this form of experience with ourselves is one avenue of adult personality maturation. Amy Morin, a psychotherapist, points out that, “mentally strong people don’t fear alone time since it offers restoration and a chance for reflection.” In addition, Eric Julian Manalastas (2010) depicts in his article for The Phillipines Journal of Psychology that a moment of solitude is a subjective experience where being with ourselves without social interaction can provide freedom, creativity, intimacy, and spirituality. If all these are correct then why do so many people not practice solitude? Research has found that one of the reasons is fear of being alone because it makes them feel depressed, insecure, and anxious. Psychologists have suggested that in these cases, there is a need for evaluation of what makes the fear and to what level controls the person and behavior because it can be linked to self confidence. Results of many studies have found that when a person overcomes the fear of being alone with adequate therapy, they feel more independent and confident. Solitude can give food to our most powerful organ, the brain.
Solitude and the Corporate World
It’s known that CEOs and most of the world’s very successful people practice solitude to maximize performance. According to Siebold (2014), author and expert in the field of critical thinking, a lot of people get stagnant professionally because they experience a cognitive overload. Not only that, but many people also wrestle with ideas, impulses, and trying to do many things at the same time because society had taught us to be multi-taskers. MIT neuroscientist, Earl Miller, suggested, “Our brains simply aren’t built to multitask well, which means we end up diluting the quality and efficiency of what we’re doing in the process.”
It’s time to be mindful and focus on one thing at a time. Solitude is the state where you can find the missing pieces of the puzzle. Embrace it. Have a weekly date with only you and find yourself. When you find yourself, you will excel.
Julie Alvira, M.D., MBA Healthcare Management creator of AJBodysculpt. www.ajbodysculpt.com. It’s a health, wellness, and fitness platform that provides you with the necessary tools to get into a healthier lifestyle. Health & Wellness Speaker/ Corporate Wellness Consulting/ Coaching/ Writer. You can see her fitness videos in Youtube: AJBodysculpt. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.