If you want to improve your relationships and your health, ease stress, inspire creativity and foster clarity, self-control and self-awareness, alone time is the way to do it.
Silence allows us space for self-reflection. From that comes acceptance and gratitude and peace. Sometimes, it churns up some new knowledge that can be surprising or difficult, but then compassion, understanding and awareness can also be found, like a refuge in the quiet moments.
With moment of quiet time built into our days, we tend be less reactive and more patient with ourselves and others. All this is good for our own personal growth, but it also benefits our kids and spouses and the people we live our lives with.
But, don’t panic, you don’t have to spend a week in isolation or hours in meditation to feel better and reap the rewards of a little alone time. Quiet time doesn’t have to be spooky or heavy. It doesn’t always have to yield profound moments of understanding or introspection. Sometimes, it’s just a relief. A chance to space out, daydream, rest.
The best way to get these restorative moments of quiet in your day then is to find pockets of it right in the middle of your routine. The spaces in between for peace. Here’s how to do it:
1. Plan for it. Ask for it. My husband is always willing to help me find time because he knows now that most times, an hour or two to myself each week, keeps me from becoming a raging, crazy woman.
2. Make it a priority. Like brushing your teeth or taking a shower, 10 minutes of quiet time a day packs health benefits that will contribute to your peace and well-being. This is not a luxury. It is part of taking care of your body and cultivating your spirit and it’s just as important as eating vegetables and working out.
3. Teach the people you live with about quiet time. We’ve coached our daughter that each day includes quiet time. This is special time you get to yourself. No television or computer or music. This is the time to read or play or create art — alone. It is possible to be with people in the same space and still have quality quiet time. One of my favorite things is when my husband, daughter and I are scattered around the house reading our own books – alone but together. By telling those you live with that this is important to you, and leading by example, they’ll begin to support it and enjoy it as well.
4. Use the spaces in between. I rarely have the radio on in the car when I’m driving alone. When I’m waiting for an appointment, I’m seldom texting or talking. And chore time at home, can be quiet time. I often work without music or television or noise. I don’t always get alone time, but the spaces in between the rest of my responsibilities allow time without noise.
5. Create at least one daily ritual that promotes quiet. Say a prayer. Meditate a few minutes each day. Go for a run without headphones. Take a long bath, or sneak in a shower before bed. My morning coffee is a ritual around quiet. When I know I’ve got a particularly cluttered day ahead, I’ll get up 15 minutes early just to drink coffee in the quiet, still-sleeping house and center myself.
Creating pockets of solitude is a powerful way to refuel and energize our lives. Make it a priority. Build it in. You’ll feel better and more equipped to manage the challenges of your day.
–portions of this post originally ran on this site and on Psychologytoday.com