Yes, you read the title right. There are benefits to being by yourself. And with the current Covid-19 pandemic, we can still benefit from the community lockdown implemented by governments around the globe.
Understandably, not many can imagine spending a long time in social isolation. For some, especially teenagers, being shut up in the house with family can spell n-i-g-h-t-m-a-r-e. We acknowledge that this is a fair enough response to the lockdown since humans are social creatures.
Majority of us live in cities and spend most of our time in groups, oftentimes outside, interacting with different people on a daily basis. But, let’s not forget that human history is not lacking of social adversities either. History proves that we’ve faced many wars, epidemics, famines, calamities, and economic downfall. So an adversity that’s realistic and inevitable includes being a situation where we are condemned to ourselves. This can be due to living in a remote place, being imprisoned, severe illness, or a worldwide crisis where our government orders us to stay home for safety.
For a person who’s an extrovert and naturally outgoing, the idea of spending a long time in solitude is inconceivable. We don’t downplay the possible negative impact of isolation. Paul Kop, a Dutch Psychologist, explains that long-term isolation at home can have severe (and even traumatic) effects. Hence, the importance of keeping in touch with people and leaving the house when chance allows it.
However, in times like a global pandemic, we gain much by looking at the positive side of forced isolation. While the current events and rising cases of Covid-19 infections outside our control, it’s not this situation that will decide our mood. Instead, it’s ultimately the position we take towards it.
While shutting off the world completely isn’t highly encouraged, it’s possible to use this period of isolation not only for personal growth, but surprisingly, for more meaningful social connections as well.
Let’s dive in and explore the 7 benefits of social isolation.
1. Opportunity for reflection.
This is the time to think deeply about the quality of your life and assess your social connections, your job, how far you’ve come since the last 5 years.
As it is, you’re taking a break from the often busy life –which doesn’t allow you to have time for your ‘self’. Now is your chance! This temporary disconnection from the outside world allows you to reflect and gain new insights.
We’re greatly influenced by the herd than we’d like to admit. Some time away from the group is beneficial in helping discover your authentic self –paving the way for self-realization and, as Nietzsche puts it, “to become who we are.” Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter further explains in an article in Psychology Today, “When you’re part of a group, you’re more likely to go along with what the group is doing or thinking, which aren’t always the actions you would take or the decisions you would make if you were on your own.”
In solitude, we can think on our past actions and choices, look at life from a different angle, and gain new perspective.
2. A moment for grounding.
When most of your waking life is spent outside: socializing, working, traveling, studying, doing chores, etc. chances are there’s a disconnect between you and your home. Carl Jung, a Swiss Psychiatrist, said that your living space is an extension of the self. So, IF because of your busy lifestyle your home has become an unpleasant living space, chances are you’d like to escape it often and would prefer hanging out in a bar after work.
But having to stay home (whether by choice or not) allows you to examine your living space and take necessary measures to turn it into a pleasant, cozy place that you’d actually love spending time in. This way, you’d feel grounded when at home where you experience a deep sense of peace. In making your home a haven, having an organic bamboo TOWL in your collection will add much value to the comfort of your living space.
3. A time for life-planning.
When you’re feeling grounded in your living space and have spent days in reflective solitude, it may be a good time to get your pen and paper to write down your goals for the future.
Oftentimes, many of us run through life like a headless chicken, making important decisions on the fly, and often influenced by people around us when making them. We make those decisions without enough reflection. But no more! This is the time to take a step back and consider HOW we want to live moving forward.
4. A chance to illuminate the forsaken parts.
There are dusted and dark parts of you that you’ve pushed aside for far too long, because –yes exactly– life got in the way. This is an opportunity to shed light on those hobbies, interests, and passions that you haven’t paid any attention to. Because of your job, social life, travels, etc. there’s just no room anymore to your artistic side –which society may see as impractical/useless.
In your isolation, you have all the time and energy to shed light on these forsaken parts and reignite their flame. Connect with the part of you that you’ve forgotten or suppressed. It’s now time to bloom.
5. Staying connected creatively.
Face-to-face interaction is a luxury to miss in this time of social distancing. Physical presence, touch, hugs are things you can’t enjoy for now. But, you can be creative in finding an alternative for communication. As long as you have a webcam and mic, talking to friends around the globe is easy. If it’s impossible to hang out as a group, this is a perfect time to have long conversations with your Dad/Mom, Grandpa, an old Aunt you seemed to forget about, your partner/spouse, or with your child. You may also make DIY cards for someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
This is the real treasure of isolation: solitude leads us to be more creative. Creativity often relies on solitary activities like writing poetry or practicing a musical instrument.
Isolation can be a wonderful chance to work on a creative project which you previously didn’t get to do: pottery, painting, song composition, bonsai, vegetable gardening, etc.
What interests you the most that you can start?
7. A chance to detach.
Being part of society also means getting entangled with a group’s decision, external factors, and the many engaging things the outside world has to offer. Especially in today’s consumerist society, the “work-hard-play-harder” mentality is instilled in us, and we’re made to believe that all the good stuff are out there. The truth is, all the good stuff is inside you. Happiness doesn’t come from others, it’s found within.
Keeping up with the Joneses has left us high-and-dry. Really, it’s like chasing after a treasure that will constantly be out of reach.
Social isolation is a great opportunity to detach yourself from the religion of money/consumption and nurture contentment with what you already have –and with who you are.
The BEST takeaway from this is to discover that YOU ARE ENOUGH. What else do you really need?