Discover Yourself

How spending time alone can help your mental health and creativity

August 5, 2018
How spending time alone can help your mental health and creativity

How do you like to spend your ‘me time’, your time alone?Β 

Do you realise the importance of taking time for yourself each day, to do something that you enjoy?

Solitude can be good for our mental health and creativity

How spending time alone can help your mental health and creativity

Do you feel sometimes like you want to step out of the world and take some time out? Life is hectic at any age and even though we retire, life can still be busy. For some of us that means helping with family, taking care of elderly parents or grandchildren, as well as enjoying our own retirement activities or working.

Recently, the University of Buffalo conducted studies and found that people who spend time alone improved their mental health and also were more creative.

Although research had previously shown that some time spent in solitude was not detrimental to our mental health, the new study is the first to show that spending time alone can improve our mental health by promoting creativity.

In her book, It’s Never Too Late, Julia Cameron talks about Artist’s Dates and also daily walks alone to reflect and meditate on your life.

The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you.

I’ve written before about the importance of self-investment and the importance of making time for ourselves without feeling guilty.

We only get one chance at this life so enjoy each day

This week, I asked some of my members of the Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond Facebook Group how they like to spend their ‘me time’.Β  I’ve listed their ideas below and it was not surprising to see that there were some common threads in their responses.

The added bonus was that most of the suggestions didn’t cost any money – you can’t get better than that!

Easy ways to enjoy your ‘Me time’ without spending a cent

  • Read, putter in the garden, coffee with friends… getting better at it as I get older
  • Walking with my pal and listening to the birds. 5 minutes meditation as I walk. Always come back with a lovely clear head!
  • I like to walk alone on the beach or through a rainforest to really have some me time.
  • Other than gardening, bushwalking and time in the gym it would be sitting on the verandah with a cuppa and a book
  • Coffee, a cat, a comfy chair, and a great book – bliss!
  • A loooong, hot bath.
  • Visualizing, meditating, walking in the park.

As you can see the simplest things can sometimes bring the most pleasure and joy to our lives.

How do I spend my ‘me time’?

Getting lost in a good book, a yoga session or walking along the river in Brisbane or by the ocean.

Do you make time for yourself each day?Β 

What is your favourite way to spend your ‘Me time’?Β 

I’d love you to share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

 

How spending time alone can help your mental health and creativity

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45 Comments

  • Reply Christine August 5, 2018 at 20:14

    A bit of ‘me time’ is certainly important for all of us. How interesting that the suggestions were all free! That adage about the best things in life must be accurate after all.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 7, 2018 at 09:04

      Exactly, Christine. There are so many things we can do without spending money, yet they bring such enjoyment. Have a lovely day xx

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au August 5, 2018 at 22:08

    I don’t know how I’d cope without “me time” Sue – I don’t think I’m an introvert (Ross says I’m definitely not!) But I think the post I wrote about being an Ambivert is the closest I’ve come to a description – it’s nice to be with other people, but then I just need that time of peace and quiet to recharge my batteries.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 7, 2018 at 09:03

      Yes, I agree, I love connecting with others but I also love being alone which isn’t a bad thing. x

  • Reply Janet Mary Cobb August 5, 2018 at 23:22

    Sue – given the way mine and my husband’s schedules work, I have a great deal of alone time but I think this is very different from ‘me time’. My struggle has been more with finding ‘me time’ on days when I am not primarily alone and making sure to create nourishing, meaningful connections during the days I’m alone. Often making sure I connect to friends or spend time in public is critical to not feeling too isolated. As for ‘me time’ though I enjoy biking, gardening, walking, cooking for myself, a good book, jigsaw puzzle and even staying up late to binge watch a show that my husband (or children when they are home) would not enjoy.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 7, 2018 at 09:03

      Hi Janet, because my husband is retired there isn’t many opportunities to have alone time, unless I make them happen. For me, ‘me time’ is doing something that I enjoy rather than maybe doing things to please others. x

  • Reply Janet Camilleri aka Middle Aged Mama August 6, 2018 at 10:01

    I love reading, puttering in the garden, going for a walk, and jigsaw puzzles, and binge watching those house decorating shows.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 7, 2018 at 09:01

      There are so many things we can do that are simple yet enjoyable Janet. We have just finished binge watching 4 seasons Line of Duty!

  • Reply Pat August 6, 2018 at 12:44

    Some of my me-time is actually time reading and commenting on my “tribe’s” blogs. It helps soothe me. It inspires me. Besides that, journaling, crossword puzzles, reading, walking on the beach, walking the dog, puttering in the garden. Sometimes I need to be careful that it’s not all me-time. While the research might say that spending time alone can improve mental health, there’s as much research that says connecting with others improves longevity. And I do find that too much me-time can leave me feeling disconnected. As in so much about life, it’s a balance – me-time and connectivity!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 7, 2018 at 08:59

      Oh I’m all about balance, Pat and I’ve written often that we need to stay socially connected. On the flipside though we do need times to just step away from the world for a while and have time doing what we enjoy. I look to my blogging friends for wonderful and inspiring connections and not sure where I would be without them. x

  • Reply Candi Randolph August 6, 2018 at 21:23

    A nice long walk to relax, de-stress and enjoy the fresh air and outdoors is my go-to for spending some time alone. Walking on the beach is at the top of the list!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 7, 2018 at 08:58

      Oh that is perfect, Candi. I love either walking or running in the outdoors and it clears my head. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Lori Jo August 7, 2018 at 01:16

    I really enjoy my “me” time that is from 5:00 a.m. until about 2:30/3:00 each day. Hubby goes to work early which means he is home early also. I enjoy the hours I have during the day with indoor/outdoor walking, yoga, blogging, reading and practicing calm thoughts. The four walls can become tight, so I try to balance it with outside walks, gardening and dinner out with friends two or three times per month. Thanks Sue, I really enjoyed this post!

    Lori Jo – 50 With Flair
    http://www.50withflair.com

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 7, 2018 at 08:57

      Sounds like you have ‘me time’ well thought through Lori Jo. As we are retired and my husband is home all the time, it can be difficult to do things on our own. We just have to make the effort though. x

  • Reply Donna August 7, 2018 at 01:24

    Hi, Sue – I always find that when I don’t get enough ‘me time,’ my stress definitely begins to rise. I love that you listed ‘reading’ as your first suggestion of how to spend time alone. Reading is unquestionably my favourite ‘me time’ activity. Daydreaming is a close second!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 7, 2018 at 08:56

      Oh I love your two favourite ‘me time’ activities, Donna. Daydreaming is so important. It helps us to keep our childhood going doesn’t it. I love reading and can spend an afternoon quite easily with a good book πŸ™‚

  • Reply Natalie August 7, 2018 at 10:03

    Hi Sue – I do make time for myself each day e.g. my fitness time, reading, writing, coffee or lunch with friends… I also do occasional solo travel to places that I’m interested in exploring and my husband wouldn’t enjoy.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 8, 2018 at 10:32

      I know you make time, Natalie because I read your posts and they are always full of your adventures in all areas of your life. Good for you and I look forward to reading about your next one πŸ™‚

  • Reply Heather Erickson August 9, 2018 at 03:24

    Hi Sue. I recently had a very stressful situation arise in my family which completely captivated my attention. I got no writing done at that time. Finally, after 3 weeks, I became so exhausted that I fell asleep in the middle of the day. I slept so hard that when I awoke at midnight, I couldn’t even recall how I got to bed. The good news is that in the middle of the night everyone is asleep. I wrote all night long. It was so invigorating to have no interruptions. This is different from an artist date, but it highlights 2 important things: 1. Take care of yourself before you burn out because exhaustion isn’t good for your creativity. 2. Time alone allows you to be more creative and productive. Be sure to take this time on a regular basis. Weekly artist dates allow you this time. I love this post, Sue. Have a fantastic week!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 9, 2018 at 09:57

      Hi Heather, I do hope you are okay now but I know what pressure you and the family are under. You have made two very good points. It is a bit like being on a plane when they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first then help others. Take care and you have a beautiful week too. xx

  • Reply Samantha Smith August 9, 2018 at 05:48

    Fantastic post Sue. I have to admit, it’s only recently, since selling up to live on our boat that I’ve had chance to have ‘me time’. Before that life was just so busy, hectic in fact. At first it was so strange because I actually didn’t know how to handle my time alone, I’d just pace and waste the time. Now I’ve got used to it, I can’t imagine life without ‘me time’ and I feel I’ve missed out all these years. I do yoga regularly now, I write, I actually have the time to read, I draw, I keep fit, I walk and I’ve learnt how to crotchet. I fill that space in my life with things I want to do. It’s time to think and you’re all right about it making you a little more creative, happier and calmer. Life changes, but it’s up to you how you adapt. I’ve found, after 50 + years, that I actually enjoy spending time with me πŸ™‚

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 9, 2018 at 09:53

      I love doing all that you have listed Sam so we would have some great times together! It is so important for our mental health to just relax and enjoy doing something for ourselves and that is when the creative juices start to flow. x

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee August 9, 2018 at 07:46

    I’m trying to exercise a bit each day and when I can, read a book in the bath or by the fire. #Lovinglifelinky

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 9, 2018 at 09:51

      That sounds just right, Lydia a good balance. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Joanne Tracey August 9, 2018 at 07:53

    I try & take 30mins after logging off work each day to sit and read a book with my dog. I truly need to get back into the artist dates thing though – these days I have very little me time & tend to get quite claustrophobic as a result.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 9, 2018 at 09:51

      I need my alone time, Jo otherwise I can feel trapped. I don’t mind if I just read a book or go for a run or walk. As long as I am alone with my thoughts for a time it makes me feel so much better. x

  • Reply Min@WriteoftheMiddle August 9, 2018 at 10:30

    I absolutely love and NEED my alone time, Sue. I’ve become quite a bit more introverted as I’ve got older. I am happy with my own company. I like to blog obviously – write, research, read, comment, create, etc. I like to crochet. I like to potter around the house and garden. Sometimes I spend too much time alone though and start to feel lonely. Then its time to organise a catch up with a friend! xo #TeamLovinLife

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 9, 2018 at 12:56

      Hi Min, I do need my alone time to take the pressure off sometimes. Like you, I’m happy with my own company as well. Although, seeing my daughter and grandsons each week and running with my Saturday Sisters plus the blogging community helps me stay connected. We need to arrange a catch up soon xx

  • Reply Deborah August 9, 2018 at 13:03

    Ha! This is an easy one for me as I’ve lived alone since 1991 – other than two years I spent in East Timor where I lived with colleagues at our Embassy. Of course now I have a couple of nights a week with my mum and it’s probably a good thing as I’m quite the opposite – I SHOULD probably spend more time with other people!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 11, 2018 at 08:16

      What an interesting life you have led, Deb. Each time I read a post or you comment I learn more about you. We need to stay connected just as much as we need time out, don’t we? It is finding the happy balance that can sometimes be difficult. Have a fabulous weekend! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Kathy Marris August 9, 2018 at 18:23

    I love my time alone. Most mornings I walk along the beach at Burleigh Heads near where I live with my dog for company and I enjoy this quiet time alone. It gets me in the right frame of mind for the busy day ahead and helps me gather my thoughts. Without this “me time” I would not be sane! #TeamLovinLife

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 11, 2018 at 08:12

      What a perfect way to start the day, Kathy and I hear you about needing ‘me time’ to keep sane. Life can get out of control sometimes can’t it? Enjoy your morning walk πŸ™‚

  • Reply Karren Haller August 10, 2018 at 14:22

    I love time alone, especially when my kids were young I always work early, got my coffee and just spent time pondering the day and what was before me, 40 years later I am still doing that, takes me longer to wake up but my day is not right without me time.
    I would love to have you stop by and Link-Up on #omhgff to share your blog and meet other talented bloggers.
    Hope to see you soon! Pinned

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 11, 2018 at 08:03

      Hi Karen, the early mornings are my favourite time too. Now there is only my husband and I but I still enjoy getting up early and having some alone time before the rush of the day starts. Thanks for the invite to the link-up which I linked a post to. Have a great weekend and thanks for pinning. xx

  • Reply Barbara Radisavljevic August 10, 2018 at 15:55

    I can’t function well without regular time alone. Sometimes I spend it writing, but when I want to relax, I read or take a photo walk. At the end of a day, while waiting for sundown, I like to sit with a cup of tea, a snack, and a good book. That’s my ultimate form of unwinding and relaxing.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 11, 2018 at 08:00

      I definitely need my alone time, Barbara and the way you end your day sounds so relaxing. I like the idea of the photo walk as well. Have a lovely day and enjoy your sundown πŸ™‚

  • Reply Michele Morin August 10, 2018 at 21:01

    I’ve had a very “peopled” summer with lots of fun, but also LOTS of long stretches with no alone time, and I really notice it when I do have a few minutes alone. It’s like my brain exhales . . .

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 11, 2018 at 07:53

      Hi Michele! Yes, it can become quite draining when surrounded by people all the time. I know I need my time out just to be alone for a while. I like your term about your brain exhaling – that is spot on, it does feel like that. Have a great weekend. xx

  • Reply Lee MacArthur August 11, 2018 at 04:06

    Since the weather is nice, I’ve been taking nice long walks outside, enjoying the scenery. Last night, I spend over an hour on the tundra picking big ripe, sweet, blueberries. Once the snows and cold weather come, I’ll switch to doing meditation and exercise in my apartment. Its not fun trying to spend time fighting 30 to 40 mph winds with blowing snow.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 11, 2018 at 07:51

      Hi Lee, I’m fortunate that where I live in Brisbane, the winters are sunny, clear and mild although summers can be quite hot and humid. Being outside and just enjoying your surroundings can certainly make us feel better. I’m not sure how I would cope being snow bound and not able to go outside. At least you have your plans to keep mind and body healthy in place ready for winter. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment and have a lovely day xx

  • Reply Shelly B August 12, 2018 at 01:19

    I definitely believe in “me time”. I make sure I take me time daily and this means enjoying time in my extensive vegetable garden and my floral garden. I also listen to a variety of music everyday, crochet or knit, sitting in a local park, or enjoying seeing the sun rise every morning. I also like to walk around the neighborhood and visit local shops. After taking some me time, I am refreshed and less stressed.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 13, 2018 at 07:17

      Hi Shelly, I would love to have a vegetable and floral garden but alas, I was not born with a ‘green thumb’. Gardening can be so relaxing. I also love to listen to music, crochet or knit and run along the river in Brisbane, or the ocean when we are at the Coast. You certainly have some great ideas for spending ‘me time’ which is so beneficial to our health. Thank you for visiting to leave a comment and have a great week! x

  • Reply Miriam August 13, 2018 at 11:17

    I enjoy my alone time. In the garden, reading a good book, playing my guitar and it’s all free, how good is that! Carving out some me time is incredibly therapeutic and important for all of us. Great post Sue xx

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 13, 2018 at 13:30

      Alone time is so important, Miriam, as I’ve written. However, as many of us has shown, we can enjoy time alone without it costing any money. I think playing the guitar would be so relaxing. Perhaps it isn’t too late to start! πŸ™‚

      • Reply Miriam August 13, 2018 at 13:32

        You’re right, it’s never to late! πŸ™‚

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