"I Prefer to Be Alone Most of the Time" - The Pros and Cons
Molly Hitchens studied business for years before launching her career as a journalist and analyst specializing in original and innovative business planning. She shares her expertise through her work with The Idea Trader as well as through in-person speaking engagements at universities around the country.
Are you the sort of person who finds yourself saying things like, “I prefer to be alone most of the time”?
It’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Many people are introverts, feeling more comfortable alone than with other people. Maybe you even work from home.
Spending time alone can have some major benefits for your personal health and wellbeing.
But it’s important to remember that socialization and spending time with others is also crucial for human health.
The key here is to try to find a healthy balance between being alone and being with others. Below you’ll find our guide to the advantages and disadvantages of spending the majority of your time alone.
Take a look to see how many of these apply to your own situation.
First up, let’s discuss some of the benefits of spending much of your personal time by yourself.
A Chance to Destress
Even if you feel comfortable around your coworkers and close friends, spending time with other people requires you to maintain dozens of different unspoken rules of politeness and common courtesy.
Then there are the conventions of conversation and the specific rules of your workplace.
Even if your daily routine isn’t incredibly stressful on the surface, simply going about your business can make for a significant amount of stress.
But when you’re alone, you’re completely free of these ties. When you’re at home, you don’t have to dress any special way or follow any particular schedule.
You can just be you and let your hair down, both literally and figuratively.
Being alone is an excellent opportunity to de-stress, not just from the day you just had but also from any other worries or concerns you’ve been having lately.
It’s a way to improve your mental health, all without spending any money or doing anything other than relaxing.
Time for Your Passions
Everyone has their own hobbies and passions, and when you’re alone you can spend as much time as you want on these activities.
For example, if you work a 9-5 job but have a real passion for model train sets, spending time by yourself is a chance to work on your models.
Many activities, model trains included, simply aren’t cooperative activities. They certainly can be, if you happen to find someone with similar interests, but you’ll make the most headway if you work on them alone.
Best of all, you can focus solely on the task at hand, never having to maintain a conversation at the same time.
Or, if your hobby involves a lot of practicing, such as playing a musical instrument, doing so by yourself is by far the best option.
The more time you give yourself to spend on your hobbies, the more motivated you’ll be to return to your full-time career the next day.
Getting to Know Yourself Better
It’s a bit of cliche nowadays, but it holds true: whether you’re in a relationship or not, it’s important to date yourself.
This simply means that you should make a real effort to get to know yourself better. You’re changing little by little every single day.
Take some time to ask yourself what you’d like to try, what you’d most like to do with your free time in the future. Maybe you’d like to make plans to travel in a few months.
You’ll never know what you really want until you ask yourself and leave plenty of time for an answer.
However, there are also several disadvantages of spending most of your time alone, some of which can even have serious consequences in the long-term.
The Need for Socialization
Human beings are social animals, in the end. We all need to spend time with other people, even if it’s only for a few hours each week.
Just as spending some time alone can give you a chance to relax and destress, too much time spent alone can be harmful to your mental and emotional health.
Socialization is also crucial for maintaining your personal relationships, from family members to friends and romantic partners.
Social time also doesn’t always need to be in-person. You can try to call your family or spend some time texting a close friend.
Even these minor forms of interaction will give you a chance to get out of your head and gain a broader perspective on life in general.
Isolating yourself physically can also lead to your own mental isolation. When spending time by yourself, you’re much more likely to overthink things, especially worries and anxieties.
This can ultimately lead to serious anxiety and discomfort. You could even start to feel overwhelmed and like you’re unable to overcome the challenges that lie before you.
As we mentioned earlier, spending time socializing can be a great way to step out of the cycle. But even leaving your home for just an hour during the evening can also help keep you from spiraling.
Try your best to notice when you fall into negative habits. Without others around to keep you in check, you’ll need to be your own best lifeguard.
When anxious, it can be much easier to fall into negative habits such as overeating, inactivity, or even substance abuse.
Watch for warning signs in your own activities and you’ll be able to stop negative habits in their tracks.
Staying in Your Comfort Zone
Sure, staying in your comfort zone may sound appealing at first. And it can be, at least for a while.
But when you spend too much time in your comfort zone, physically, emotionally, and mentally, it can lead back to some of those negative habits we mentioned above.
It can also lead to simple stagnation. When you don’t challenge yourself, you’re less likely to test your limits and grow.
It’s certainly possible to pull yourself away from your comfort zone, but in most cases socializing can handle the same task with ease.
Your friends and family members will naturally push you out of your comfort zone. Give yourself a chance to explore new experiences, challenges, and, eventually, triumphs.