Is there any joy in being alone? Solitude is not for everyone, but for me, despite a career in an industry that demands sociability, I love being alone. In fact I would go so far as to say I positively crave it.
Research findings suggest there are some health benefits to being alone, not least in terms of our creativity but also in relation to our mental health.
Right now I am alone. The house is empty, eerily quiet in fact, but it is the kind of quiet which I love because it signifies I am completely alone. A rare scenario for a parent of any kind let alone one of teenagers with their never ending hoards of friends and for a wife whose husband works from home.
Truth be told, this is my first 24 hours alone in six months since my cancer surgery. There is no one here to ask how I am, how I feel or whether I need anything.
More importantly,however, it is the first real time my head space is totally my own. There is no one cluttering up the periphery of my thoughts with requests for food, clean washing or a lift to somewhere.
It feels like my brain is having a spring clean. Even a call from my eldest teen to confirm his safe arrival at Leeds for the festival weekend and check on my welfare, seemed like an unwelcome intrusion.
As a woman who loves not only the company of others but also the joy of being alone, it is difficult to describe or even understand this contradictory scenario unless of course you are like me, a happy loner. In one word, however, it is quite simply euphoric.
There are those who simply loathe being alone but for me too much time with other people induces a sense akin to claustrophobia.
I always have an off switch when in the company of others, when I need to call it a day and leave. I dislike staying over in other people’s houses and would prefer, if budget allows, to stay down the road in a B&B just to be sure that I get some time out, space to breathe and recharge.
Does this make me weird? Well my husband remains simultaneously frustrated and bemused by it and explains away my need for “me time” as my Greta Garbo phenomena and will rest his forearm dramatically on his forehead and say “I want to be left alone!”
There is however a significant difference, between enjoying some alone time and loneliness and there is no doubt that the latter which arises from a sense of isolation can be damaging to our mental health and wellbeing.
We all need people in our lives to make us feel whole and complete as nothing, even for a happy loner like me, quite matches the joy of having fulfilling relationships with people.
There is no doubt, however, in my mind as my 24 hours draws to an end that alone time is beneficial to our emotional wellbeing on many levels.
It is a great way to recharge, refocus and reflect. It is an opportunity to get in tune with yourself as an individual, to indulge and catch up with things you enjoy. The biggest benefit of all though is that in stepping back and focusing inwardly, your mind and your soul is strengthened and you are ready once more to exert your energy outwards to those around you. Sometimes we all just need a break.
Editors Note: How do you feel about being alone? Do you enjoy it or is it something you avoid? I would love to hear your thoughts.