Leave me alone! Psychologist extols the benefits of solitude


While most people have a fear of missing out, a psychologist and assistant professor at Durham University says what most people are missing out on is the benefit of being by themselves. 

In an article published on the nonprofit news site The Conversation, Thuy-vy Nguyen notes “solitude is often mistaken for loneliness” and extols the virtue of spending time by yourself. “Instead, many people can, and do, find solitude in public spaces, whether this be sitting with a cup of tea in a busy café or reading a book in a park. And my research suggests that taking some time for yourself could have a positive impact on your daily mood.”

Nguyen says taking some time away from people — and your digital devices — has been found to drop such soloists’ stress levels and, yes, even their FOMO. 

Nguyen explains that through experiments conducted with her students, spending time all by your not-so-lonesome can take some getting used to. Indeed, one experiment saw the students would rather sort hundreds of golf pencils than sit alone with their thoughts. 

But that’s OK, too, she reasons. Even running boring errands by yourself can be the break you need.

Nguyen points to a survey of 18,000 adults who were asked what they ideally do when they rest, and more than half say they’d rather do it alone — and those polled included both self-described introverts and extroverts.

“To overcome our fear of solitude, we need to recognize its benefits and see it as a positive choice – not something that happens to us,” she concludes, adding, “taking time out of your busy schedule for small doses of solitude might well be just what you need.”


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