Alone time important for overall wellness
'You get to see yourself for who you really are'
In today’s busy and constantly connected world, it is easy to get caught up in making time for everything and everyone except oneself.
It seems there’s hardly ever time to be alone and solitude is often associated with loneliness, sadness and being antisocial.
However, making time for solitude is necessary and can benefit your overall wellness.
“During my time of solitude, I don’t think about other people’s problems or any external thing that would contaminate my mood or focus. As a result, when I go out and interact with other people, I become of value to them. I’m focused, more aware and have a better understanding,” says 28-year-old Mphumezi Ngcwabe, who has now made healthy solitude a part of his daily life.
Ngcwabe started being intentional about making time for himself in 2016 when life felt overwhelming and he felt less like himself.
“I was spending way too much time with people. As a result, I was becoming more like other people as opposed to being in touch with myself. I really felt like I was doing more things that were not aligned with who I am, so I decided to create some space from everything.”
Six years later, Ngcwabe has not looked back and cannot possibly imagine life without his moments of solitude.
As someone who spends his days either at work or busy pursuing his passions, he incorporates his alone time in his morning and evening routines.
Journalling and meditation are some of the ways he checks in with himself and makes his solitude time worthwhile.
“When I meditate, I get to choose which thoughts I want to act on. It places me in a position to observe myself and sets me up for the day.”
He is well aware of the difference between being lonely and being alone.
“The reason I continue to do it is because I see the value of it in my life. Through solitude you don’t have to find validation from other people. You get to see yourself for who you really are.”
Indeed, the importance of knowing and understanding oneself is something life coach Mpho Mogotsi also emphasises. According to her, solitude is a crucial part of self-awareness.
“Solitude actually gives you the platform to tap into your spirit and to understand who you truly are. I believe that as human beings we cannot be told who we are by other people. We need to get to a point in our lives where we ourselves can define who we are.”
While the idea of solitude is unfortunately clouded with various misconceptions connected to loneliness, sadness and even selfishness, Mogotsi believes that balance is key and that solitude is necessary to refill one’s own cup to be able to pour into others.
“Unfortunately, society taught us at a very young age that we shouldn’t be selfish. From there we started to place other people before us. In that sense it forced us to also be serving from an empty cup.
“What solitude does is that it gives you an opportunity to refill your cup. When you are full, you are able to have reserves for other people.”
In a demanding world where many of us wear multiple hats, Mogotsi encourages being smart, strategic and considerate when fitting pockets of solitude into your schedule.
After all, your solitude should not take away from the love and attention you give to your loved ones.
“For example, as a mother and a wife it is perhaps best to not have solitude time at 6pm when the family expects supper and the children want to play. Sometimes my solitude time is at 3am, so you have to be smart about it.”