I feel guilty. Sometimes there is no one because I need to be with myself. There are those who confuse my choice with selfishness and get angry, the most intelligent people understand and respect me because sometimes they also needed to disconnect from the world.
There are moments when we simply can’t keep up with the rhythm the society is trying to impose on us and it is necessary to move away to regenerate or simply to pause. Although we are not fully aware of it, the obligation to be always connected and ready to respond generates a tension that can become the drop that overflows the vessel. That's why sometimes you need to close the doors to the world and take some time to stay alone.
The risks of relegating ourselves to the background
Many times we end up relegating ourselves to the background, we set aside to give priority to other people or activities. Consequently, we end up losing ourselves in the bustle of the day. We postpone the necessary rest and disconnection to resolve small emergencies, respond to messages, and maintain relationships.
The problem is that if we continue to put ourselves in the background, we will end up disconnecting from ourselves or, worse, getting sick. In fact, we must remember that to take care of others we must first take care of ourselves. To enjoy the presence of others first of all we must be able to enjoy our company.
Living in such a competitive and hyper-connected society forces us to concentrate too much on the small urgencies of life, or to meet the needs of others by ending to forget ours.
At that point we will begin to experience some changes, the first warning signs we are about to reach the limit are:
- Constant fatigue. It is an extreme tiredness that we can’t recover from even resting, because it is the product of the stress and tension accumulated over a long period of time.
- Frustration. When we give too much of ourselves, somewhere inside we know we have to disconnect but, since we can’t, we can begin to experience a great frustration. It's as if we were trapped in a shortage that we can’t get out of.
- Irritability and impatience. Everything is bothering us, even the small stimuli that before passed unnoticed, because our senses are hyper-stimulated and our nervous system is at the limit, so it reacts in an exaggerated way to the environment.
- Loss of sense. There is a point where we can start thinking that nothing has sense, the things we first liked lost their attractiveness and we become apathetic and disinterested, as if we were living with the automated pilot. This is because we are sunk into our responsibilities by neglecting the most hedonistic part of life.
The interesting part is that living in a hyper-demanding and challenging environment ends up acting as a narcotic that makes us insensitive to our needs. That is why sometimes we just have to stop.
5 good reasons to spend time alone with ourselves
1. Recharge the batteries. The time spent alone helps us to relieve the tension that others are dropping on our shoulders. Basically, it is an opportunity to restore emotional balance and recharge your batteries. It is no coincidence that a study at the University of Illinois found that people who felt comfortable with their own and worried about defending these spaces were less likely to suffer from depression, reported less physical discomfort and showed a greater satisfaction in life.
2. Restores self-control. The ability to resist temptation, make good decisions, and control our behavior depends largely on self-control. However, it has been shown that self-regulation is not an infinite capacity but is consuming during the day, to the extent that we use it. A study at Northwestern University found that our self-control is particularly sensitive to complex and demanding interpersonal relationships. Therefore, being alone helps us regain this ability and the emotional control of our reactions.
3. Allows the brain to recover. Being alone is crucial to the brain as this way we allow it to "disconnect". In fact, a study conducted at the Center for Regenerative Therapies of Dresden found that silence contributes to regenerating neurons. The point is that when we are alone and in silence is activated what is called the "default mode network", allowing to rest at those areas of the brain that we exploit more when we are connected. This allows us to clarify ideas, focus and think more clearly. Far from daily distractions we can think better.
4. It allows us to connect intimately with our "self". Surrounded by too many stimuli it is difficult to connect with our essence. The time spent alone allows us to rediscover ourselves and listen to our inner voice. These moments are extremely precious because they are a break in life to take care of the "little baby" inside us, know how it is and what it wants.
5. Improve interpersonal relationships. It may seem a contradiction, but spending time alone allows us to be more relaxed and focused, this will be reflected positively in our interpersonal relationships. We will be able to deal better with daily problems without altering and we will enjoy more the presence of others.
How to recover the control?
When you perceive the world is turning too fast, it's time to stop. If you feel that the pressure of those around you is excessive and prevents you from being yourself, stop and rearrange your priorities.
It is likely that the others need you, but to help them you need to be strengthened and this means disconnecting and resting. Reprogram your daily routine and eliminate all the little "urgencies" that occupy all your time and energy unnecessarily.
It is important that you pursue your goals, but without stressing too much. And if necessary, take some hours or a day to stay alone with yourself. It's not selfishness, it's a necessity. You do not have to be for anyone, because at that moment you need yourself.
Disconnect and be concerned only for your mental health. Learn how to put yourself in the list of your priorities.
Sabater, V. (2017) A veces no estoy para nadie, porque yo también me hago falta. En: La Mente es Maravillosa.
Kirste, I. et. Al. (2015) Is silence golden? Effects of auditory stimuli and their absence on adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Brain Struct Funct; 220(2): 1221-1228.
Finkel, E. J. et. Al. (2006) High-maintenance interaction: inefficient social coordination impairs self-regulation. J Pers Soc Psychol; 91(3): 456-475.
Larson, R. & Lee, M. (1996) The capacity to be alone as a stress buffer. J Soc Psychol;136(1): 5-16.