How To Find The Positives In Being Alone, Because Experts Say It's All About Perspective

by Julia Guerra

When was the last time you were alone, but didn’t feel lonely? There’s a difference between the two, you know: Loneliness is an emotion triggered by the gut feeling that something about you doesn’t quite fit someone else’s puzzle. Being alone, on the other hand, is a choice you make for yourself to be separate from others — family, friends, even strangers. But even though there’s a kind of stigma around the idea of hanging solo and taking a step back from being social, I think we could all benefit from learning how to change loneliness to solitude, especially if you find yourself feeling uncomfortable with being on your own more often than not. The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with spending time with yourself, and yourself alone. After all, if you can’t be friends with yourself, how can you honestly expect someone else to navigate that sort of relationship?

Having said that, it’s worth noting that I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that you have to love yourself unconditionally in order for someone to love you (and that's just my opinion, guys). However, I still think it's important to develop some level of friendship with yourself. For example, when I started working from home, I felt incredibly lonely, incredibly quickly. Not being in a crowded office space, and not having those face-to-face interactions with co-workers and my boss, was relieving for my introverted side, at least at first. The extroverted part, though, she missed the chatter and the company. But, continuing my career from the homestead was my decision — one of the best I’ve ever made for myself — so I knew I needed to learn how to be OK with being alone.

The bottom line is this: Being alone doesn’t have to feel so lonely; it can actually be pretty awesome and rewarding in terms of self-discovery. Plus, and not to sound too much like a preschool teacher, but sometimes, all it really takes is turning that frown upside down to change your perspective on things. Here’s how you can start looking at the negatives of loneliness as positives, and as things that will truly benefit your well-being.

Take A Step Back From All Things Social Media

Have you ever noticed that, even when you "take time for yourself," you're never truly alone? There’s really no such thing as rest and relaxation when smartphones are around; just ask your ex-college-roomie who posts boomerangs of her bubble bath every Sunday night, or your sister who checks in at the spa on Facebook before getting a massage. Sure, self-pampering inspiration is always welcome, but if you really want to enjoy a little “me” time, Hannah Lucas, founder of the notOK app, says the first step is to get off the grid.

“You don’t have to cancel or delete your accounts; maybe just delete the apps from your phone for a short while,” Lucas tells Elite Daily. Personally, I struggle to go an entire 24 hours without social media (I’m working on it), but if you really want to get comfortable with being 100 percent by yourself, Lucas suggests going as far as giving yourself “a few weeks to a month” sans any social apps, in order to “clear your mind of everyone else’s ideas and opinions.” Preach, girl.

Think About What’s Actually Making You Feel Left Out

This goes back to that whole "change your mind, change your world" philosophy. Being alone, truly alone, might encourage you to figure out what, specifically, is making you feel so lonely. Is it that you’re not surrounding yourself with a support group that makes you feel included and loved, or is it that you’re beginning to feel a shift in your own personal interests? Maybe your idea of an enjoyable social event isn’t the same as your high school circle anymore, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

According to clinical psychologist Michael Alcee, PhD, bringing these core issues to the surface is what’s ultimately going to help you feel better in the moment, and about being alone in the long run. “Loneliness can be an important sign that we need to reconnect externally or internally, so try to locate what you need,” he tells Elite Daily, adding that it's not a bad idea to consider how much of an introvert or extrovert you are, too. To that point, Alcee suggests asking yourself these questions: “Do I need more social time to get that energy going again, or do I need to take the time to go inward?”

Treat Yourself To An "Artist Date"

I’m sure you’ve had plenty of nights-in dedicated to Netflix, a comfy blanket, and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, but have you ever treated yourself to a movie ticket solo? Yeah, I know you’re capable of making yourself dinner on your own, but how about taking yourself, and only yourself, out for a meal? Personally, I’ve never been the person to do much of anything by myself, except maybe browse Barnes & Noble or go for a walk around my neighborhood, but according to Alcee, these are all excellent examples of how you can really get to know yourself on a deeper level.

“Julia Cameron, author of the The Artist's Way, coaches people to make sure they take themselves on an 'artist date' every week, to seek out fun, enjoyment, and even mischief,” he tells Elite Daily. “Think of it like taking yourself on your own special date; the point is to open up that connection with your deepest selves and have them come out and play!”

Be Your Own Gym Buddy

A vital part of taking care of your emotional self is maintaining your physical self, too. That’s right, friends: Getting physically active can stimulate all the good feels (hey there, endorphins), and according to Dr. Danielle Forshee, LLC, a doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, working up a sweat will also encourage serotonin production in your body, aka those super helpful neurotransmitters that control all things related to your moods. “When you’re alone,” Forshee tells Elite Daily, “it is important to engage in some physical activity to increase serotonin production in your brain. This will help combat the sometimes intolerable pain of loneliness.”

Plus, she adds, doing something good for your body can make you feel downright good about yourself, so if you don’t have enough time between work and school to, say, take lengthy, luxurious bubble baths, or spend a day at the spa, dedicate just 20 minutes of your morning or night to gentle stretches or a walk around the block — anything to build up your stamina is going to be beneficial in the long run.

Spoil Your Mind, Body, And Spirit With A Lot Of Self-Pampering

Hannah Lucas tells Elite Daily that, above all else, self-care is so important, especially when you’re not feeling like your best self. Eating a well-balanced diet (and when I say balanced, I do mean going for that second scoop of ice cream when you want it, girl) and getting your body moving are certainly key components to self-care, but there’s also the feel-good stuff like reading a chapter of a new book every night, journaling to organize your thoughts, or turning your bathroom into a spa by lighting candles or incense, adding bubbles to your bath, and soaking away any bottled-up stress you might be feeling.

This is another perfect way to figure out how to take those feelings of loneliness, and transform them into your own oasis of solitude. Before you can feel good, you have to know what makes you feel good, and if that means taking bubble baths every day for the next month, then so be it.