The Value of Solitude


By Sierra Gutierrez, Staff Writer

If you use your time well, an afternoon alone can be the most beneficial and enjoyable part of your week.


Introverts and other shut-ins already know what I’m talking about. A quiet Saturday afternoon with a good book and the house to yourself is a dream come true for some of us. For others, however, being alone on a weekend is a punishment– how can being stuck in the lonely confines of your own home ever be preferable to the joy and excitement of going out with friends? Surely, any other course of action would be less pathetic than sitting by yourself for hours at a time.


Although different people definitely have different needs when it comes to social activity, the type of thinking that boxes in solitude as a state of despair and boredom causes many to miss out on the brighter side of the time spent in one’s own company. These days, people try everything they can to avoid being alone, which has contributed to an unhealthy stigma around the very idea of solitude. There are, however, several benefits to be had by making time to be alone and escape the daily bustle of society.


One of the simplest and most easily overlooked benefits of solitude is that taking a break from being around others will give you plenty of time to get things done. After all, the time you spend hanging out with friends is time not spent on cleaning, completing projects, or otherwise checking off your to-do list. It’s a mundane cause for sure, but a valuable one all the same.


“I like to talk with my friends by texting them or going to hang out somewhere,” says Quartz Hill Sophomore Jordan Gutierrez, “but I already feel like I have so much stuff to do.” By cutting down on get-togethers and number of texts sent, Jordan and students like her are able to refocus on what needs to be done. She states, “I wish I could hang out with them every day but I finish a lot more stuff when I’m not distracted. I like the feeling of finally being finished with it all.”


Spending time away from other people isn’t just a good excuse to get some chores done. Several researchers as well as traditional wisdom from around the world also tells us that solitude can be good for your physical and mental health. Jack Fong, a sociologist at California State Polytechnic University says that “when people take these moments to explore their solitude…they just might learn a little bit about how to out-maneuver some of the toxicity that surrounds them in a social setting.”


By creating an opportunity to relax and reflect, time spent in solitude can teach a person a lot about who they are when they are not defined by turmoil or society. This renewed sense of self can then benefit a person in their daily lives by providing a steady rock of identity to return to when the going gets tough. Through the deeper process of introspection, a kind of peace can be achieved that is similar to the one described by philosophers from Aristotle to Lao Tzu in their studies of solitude.


Maybe philosophical introspection isn’t quite your style. If you truly can’t see the value of a solitary workday or taking a step on your inner journey toward personal peace, consider using your next personal moment to treat yourself and take a ‘me day’ instead! Possibly the most widely accepted use of alone time in our current culture, a ‘me day’ should be used to indulge in some much needed self care. Bubble baths and nail salons are classic ways some people choose to relax during such days, but this can take many forms. Binge watching your favorite Netflix shows or practicing a beloved hobby are also completely acceptable ways of spending a me day. Whatever form your me day takes, however, the point of the day should be you and only you. No buddies or significant others or social media should be allowed to interrupt the blissful solitude of the day. This day is for isolated relaxation and personal care– not for the stressors of daily life.


Solitude goes greatly underappreciated in today’s fast paced culture. While it may be your first instinct to set up plans every weekend or group along with friends every chance you get, consider the benefits of staying home alone once in a while. Consider getting that thing that’s been stressing you out done and over with. Consider spending time alone with your thoughts and getting to know yourself a little better through introspection. And, if you have been feeling especially tense lately, consider treating yourself to a ‘me day’ and taking the time to cheer yourself up with a warm bath and other forms of self-care. Remember that solitude isn’t always a bad thing. And remember that sometimes, a little bit of alone time is all you need.