Hey everyone, I’m doing a wee three-part series on What is Your Therapy? so we can explore the different ways that we get advice, feel empowered, and ultimately heal internal pain. Here I will chat about a bunch of activities that make up my most enjoyable type of therapy; alone time.
Alone time! I talk about alone time activities quite a bit, because I honestly think that they are platinum-quality methods for becoming well. I do also understand that alone time is something that makes half of us jump for joy, and the other half groan in agony, but groaners, please bear with me!
Personally, alone time is a big essential for me. Being a half-half introvert-extrovert, I love having a catch up with my friends about things that are going on, but I also need the time to wind down, recharge and process things alone. I feel as though the people who struggle with alone time are probably the ones who would benefit from it the most, as it gives your brain the space to organise everything and brainstorm solutions to issues, or just explore simple ways that you can dissolve niggling worries. I can basically hear the people with bad anxiety saying “BEING ALONE WILL MAKE ME MORE ANXIOUS AND I WILL JUST OBSESS OVER MY WORRIES!”. And okay, I hear you, but please hear me out too!
Taking alone time doesn’t mean that you have to sit alone and do nothing until your brain explodes. Think of alone time as spending quality time with yourself. Treat yourself gently and with so much care that you’re basically in a solo rom-com. Do a face mask and read a book. Sit outside and have a coffee. Chuck on a Bob Ross video and paint along whilst sipping a cup of tea. Buy some new plant babies and nurture them in your garden or in your home.
Or if all of that feels impossible because your brain is buzzing like a beehive, sit and write. Write until every thought that’s been bouncing around in your head is on paper, because then you can see them for what they really are.
Those obsessive thoughts? They’re fear. Fear in the form of words. Just words. Words that can either rule you or serve you. Words that you can read again and again, or words that you can put in a drawer and put to rest for the day.
Writing therapy is an excellent tool to ease anxiety and get some much needed clarity around issues. Even writing out a simple chart, starting with the anxious thought at the top (for example- “I feel/am unloved”) and then dot-pointing all of the evidence that disproves this anxiety (“I have wonderful friends, I had coffee with *insert name* two weeks ago which was lovely, I have *so-and-so’s* wedding coming up and they want me there because they love me, my dog gets excited when I come home, ect.). Beat anxiety to death with evidence, and you’ll build that crazy-awesome muscle we all have inside called resilience.
All in all, there are many ways in which you can practice productive alone time. I believe that the best activities for healing yourself and creating a soothing atmosphere are the creative ones, and the nurturing ones. Perhaps a good way to gauge whether an activity is a productive use of alone time task is to ask yourself “Is this creative?” or “Is this nurturing and soothing?”. For the nurturing part, remember that this means nurturing yourself, not just others/a plant/an animal (although those can be great calming activities too). This is all about you. If an invasive thought pops in and tries to tell you that your alone time is selfish, do yourself a favour and kick it to the curb. You can’t expect an empty battery to be useful for anything, so never, ever forget the vital importance of recharging yourself. And leave any guilt at the door.
Remember; alone time isn’t lonely time.
It is a fresh summers morning where you are awake before the rest of the house. It is the opportunity that comes with a few extra minutes to sip your coffee slow and read a novel in the sun. It’s the time that we take to roll out of bed to go for a walk and enjoy the amazing day. It’s writing a list of things you are grateful for even when your insides feel mashed up and sad. It is all of the space both between and within the complicated moments of our lives. It is wholeheartedly and unapologetically ours. The opportunity to spend quality time with yourself is available in each and every day; it’s just up to you to make it a priority.
To make your wonderful, complicated self the highlight of your day.