Being alone can sometimes be terrifying. Even if you spend all day hanging out with friends, spending time with your partner, or enjoying family time - the moments when you’re alone can feel daunting. Time spent alone means finding joy in things that you enjoy instead of entertaining other people. It also means that it’s harder to distract yourself when things feel bad. As a therapist, I’ve had a lot of clients tell me that they don’t like being alone because they don’t want to deal with their thoughts. Today we’re going to talk about how to enjoy spending time alone - because there are going to be times when you have to.
It’s important to remember that there is a difference between being lonely and being alone. If being alone makes you feel sad and makes you long for company, that qualifies as loneliness. Being alone is simply learning to enjoy your own company instead of seeking that feeling in other people. The first thing is to avoid comparing yourself to other people. Even though this is hard, it’s imperative that you don’t compare yourself and/or your social life to other people. Scrolling through social media, or what I like to affectionately call “doom scrolling”, and seeing people you know living lavish lives isn’t good for avoiding comparison. The truth is that you don’t know if the people you’re comparing yourself to are truly happy or just posting the highlights. My guess, personally, is that they’re posting the highlights.
Another way to enjoy spending time alone is to take yourself on a date. Pick a place that brings you joy such as a coffee shop, bookstore, or park and enjoy time alone in nature. Pack a picnic and read a book in the park alone, or go to the movies and see something you’ve wanted to for a while. These things that you would typically do with other people can be done alone - and you can enjoy them without the presence of other people as well.
It can be hard at first to find the things that make you feel grateful when you’re alone, but you can practice by making a list of everything you’re grateful for. Try to think of things that don’t involve other people. It can be easy to forget the things we’re grateful for as we go throughout our day because we are creatures of habit. We drive to work, we follow through with tasks at our jobs, and we come home. Even small things like the ability to work or having transportation are things to be grateful for in the grand scheme of things.
Have a creative side? Get in touch with it! Explore new forms of art - and don’t be afraid to be “ bad” at it at first. Paint your feelings about being alone or draw what you’re grateful for. Even if you don’t think you’re a creative person, creativity is an outlet for your brain. Don’t want to paint or draw? Take on a home improvement project or learn to play an instrument! You can even venture into writing if you have a story in your brain.
If you’re struggling with enjoying time alone, the therapists at Mindsight are here to help!
Shelby Case is a new therapist at Mindsight Louisville! Shelby's favorite things include spending time with her animals and her spouse, watching television (currently they are watching Big Brother), and taking road trips. When she isn't providing therapy to clients, she can be found playing video games (her favorite is The Sims 4) or spending too much money at a thrift store. Shelby's favorite color is green and her guilty pleasure is reality TV shows.
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