Finally, the door closed and the noise stopped. I was in my bedroom, my own bedroom, with the lights turned perfectly low and no one else around. It was the holidays, and I had just spent nearly two days straight with family, passing around casserole and opening presents and trying not to scream when I realized there was no escape, at least not until the cut-out cookies had been served.
But now, I had this. Time alone. The relief felt as real as a drug carrying me away to bliss.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my family. I really do. But as an introvert(link is external), I can only take so much “together time” before my energy is sapped(link is external), my brain becomes mush(link is external), and every cell in my body demands a quieter, less stimulating space.
Introverts need alone time like we need air to breathe(link is external).
If you’re like me, your introvert alone time comes sporadically. When your roommate, spouse, or kids happen to be out for the night, you get the place to yourself. Or you find yourself “lucky” to have no plans for the weekend. Suddenly, with hours of couch and pajama quiet time stretching infinitely out in front of you, you realize just how much you needed this break.
But what if you could feel enchantingly energized as a rule, not a reaction? You can — when you start deliberately scheduling solitude. This year, my New Year’s resolution is to spend at least 30 minutes each night reading — alone in my bedroom. The new year is the perfect time to start a new habit. I invite you to join me on the fast track to bliss.
You’ll find that spending time alone will absolutely change your life. Here’s how.
The Life-Changing Benefits of Spending Time Alone
1. You’ll show up better for the people in your life.
Not getting enough solitude can turn you into a trash-can dwelling grouch. You start snapping at every little thing. You start wondering why you ever thought it was a good idea to marry this guy. Or start a family. You grump at your husband when he can’t find the milk that’s staring him in the face in the fridge. You snap at your kid when she forgets her lunch at home. You turn into everyone’s favorite person to avoid.
But have you ever noticed what happens when the energizing salve of solitude is spread across your evening? You become a pleasant person again. Someone people actually want to be around. And not just pleasant, but downright engaging. You actually want to chat with your roommate about her latest Tinder disaster. You ask your coworker how his weekend was — and you mean it. Taking more time for yourself has the ironic effect of ultimately making your relationships better.
2. You’ll get smarter.
Alone time isn’t all just binge-watching your favorite shows in your elastic waistband pants. Many introverts spend their solitude reading books and articles or listening to podcasts. And the benefits of reading are yuge, including helping keep your brain sharp(link is external), possibly staving off Alzheimer’s disease(link is external), and even making you more empathetic(link is external) (when you read fiction). If you’re not spending five hours a week learning something new via reading, you’re being irresponsible with your time, argues(link is external) entrepreneur and bestselling author Michael Simmons. Top business leaders like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Oprah spend five hours a week deliberately learning(link is external); they’re pretty busy people, so the moralof the story is that if they can find time to do it, so can you.
3. You’ll improve your health.
Similar to #2, you can use your alone time to do something healthy (mentally or physically) like jogging, yoga, meditation, or prayer. Regular exercise is basically a wonder drug(link is external) for your mind and body, and meditation has been shown to increase your immune function, decrease pain, boost your happiness, make you less lonely, and So. Much. More. Similarly, time spent in prayer has been found to offset the negative effects of stress, have a calming effect(link is external), and increase feelings of wellbeing and joy(link is external).