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Alone Time: Why You Need It, How It Helps & How to Make the Most of It

Whether or not you like your alone time, some people need it. In fact, it can benefit everyone, regardless of whether they are an introvert or an extrovert.

alone time

We’ve all been there: sitting at home on our day off, trying to find something meaningful to do with our time, only to end up losing ourselves in 11 episodes of a Netflix TV series that we’ve already watched … straight through … twice. It’s our delicious alone time.

It seems that when you’re bogged down with work, friends, and housework, you have a million different things you want to do when you finally get a second to yourself. 

But then, when that time comes, it’s as if your brain has forgotten all about work, friends, chores, and *unfortunately* everything you wanted to do with your free time.

What is alone time?

Alone time is just what it sounds like – time when we are by ourselves. But it’s more than that. It should be quality alone time. It should make you less stressed and feel peaceful. And a lot of people need it – especially introverts. [Read: 28 truths about feeling alone in a relationship and how to fix it ASAP]

The psychology behind why we need alone time

Some people need more alone time than others. While it’s not always clear-cut, it’s easy to say that introverts need a lot more alone time than extroverts. You might wonder why that is, so here are the reasons.

You see, when most people hear the word “introvert,” they think of someone who is shy and socially awkward. But that’s not true. You can be a very friendly and social introvert who really likes people. However, introverts’ energy gets drained by being with people too much.

And then, they need to recharge. The only way an introvert can recharge is to be by themselves. So, that’s why introverts need alone time. [Read: Why do I feel so alone? Truths that can heal and change your life]

On the other end of the spectrum, all extroverts aren’t party animals who need to be the center of attention either. You can actually be a shy and non-charismatic extrovert. But extroverts get charged up by being with people, which is the opposite of introverts. Being alone drains extroverts.

However, that doesn’t mean that extroverts don’t benefit from alone time too. It might be more difficult for them to handle it, but it can be really healthy as you will find out now.

Benefits of alone time

If you’re an introvert, then you probably already know the benefits of alone time. But if you’re an extrovert, then you probably don’t understand its value quite as much. So, here are reasons alone time can be healthy. [Read: Introvert vs. extrovert – why it’s fluid and what splits them apart]

1. It can relieve stress

People who enjoy enough alone time actually experience more stress release and are much more relaxed than those who aren’t by themselves very often.

When we are alone, the pressure of keeping other people happy and having social interactions isn’t there. These things can cause a lot of people some stress. Plus, you can do solitary activities like meditation, yoga, or a hobby.

2. You can reflect on life

Being alone gives you a great time to reflect on everything. Most people get so stressed out and caught up in daily activities that they don’t even have time to process what is going on in their lives or what happened to them in the past.

So, alone time is the perfect opportunity to catch up with yourself and process your feelings. You can also accomplish this by doing some journaling too. [Read: 25 honest self-reflection questions to recognize the real YOU inside]

3. You can appreciate your life more

Many people hardly ever “stop to smell the roses” in life. In other words, they don’t reflect on what they are grateful for. Being alone is a great time to practice gratitude. It’s really easy for most people to only focus on the negatives in life.

So, when you’re alone, you can spend time thinking about all the good things you have. This will lead you to have a more positive attitude in life and a better sense of well-being.

4. You can be more productive

When we’re at work, sometimes we can get caught up in talking, chit-chatting, or gossiping about other people. But you can’t be productive when you are socializing. Alone time will let you focus and really get your work done.

This isn’t just limited to work either. Anytime you have a project to do, being alone will make you do it more efficiently. [Read: The best things to do when you’re stuck at home and feel productive]

5. You can become mentally stronger

You can become a stronger person by having alone time. Especially if you use your time alone to reflect, your mental strength can grow. And that’s especially true when you have a lot of struggles in your life.

You can sit with your thoughts, hopes, fears, dreams, anxiety, and other emotions. Being by yourself allows you to recognize, acknowledge, and work through them undisturbed.

6. You can be selfish

When we say “selfish”, we don’t mean in a way that hurts other people What we mean is that you just get to do what you want and you don’t have to ask anyone else’s opinions.

You don’t have to compromise at all or meet someone halfway. Being alone is the only time you get to be truly selfish and only have to worry about pleasing yourself and no one else. 

So how do you make the most of your alone time?

As seldom as it may be at this point in your life, the time you actually do get to yourself is very important. It should be used to relax, wind down, get some personal stuff done, and free your mind of everything that has gnawed its way in over the week. What you shouldn’t be doing is sitting on your butt staring at a computer screen.

But since you can barely remember what you wanted to do for yourself in the first place, we have put together a list of some productive and relaxing ways to make the most out of your alone time. [Read: Sabotaging your happiness – ways you could be ruining your own life]

1. Make a list… and actually cross stuff off! 

It’s one thing to write down all of the activities you’re going to do when you finally get a second to yourself, but it’s another to actually accomplish them. 

Getting a haircut, painting your nails, reading a book, seeing that movie, and other things like this can get lost in the back of your mind if you don’t write them down somewhere.

Writing down these thoughts and ideas will not only help you to remember them, but it’ll also make it easier for you to get them done if you see that they are still awaiting a check mark. Don’t you just love the feeling of checking something off your list? 

Keep a notepad and pen with you at all times, so you can write down random thoughts that pop into your head. If you can’t carry a notepad, you can text the items to yourself to read later.

2. Prioritize

It’s okay if you don’t end up watching a certain video on YouTube that someone told you about, but it’s not okay if you don’t get your hair cut before that upcoming wedding in which you are a bridesmaid, all because you just couldn’t pass up that YouTube video. We all know what happens: 2 minutes turns into 3 hours very quickly in the world of funny cat videos.

Getting the most important things accomplished first will actually help you with getting the rest of it done. When you finish your important list items, you will have more time for other things, and you will relax better knowing that those things are out of the way. [Read: 20 lifestyle changes you need to make in your 20s for a better life]

3. Just say no! 

Don’t be afraid to say no to your friends and family or anyone else who is trying to take away your time when you need it for yourself. It’s okay to tell them that you’re otherwise occupied and won’t be able to make plans with them.

Many people do this a lot. Someone will ask them if they want to grab a drink or something, and they’ll think about it for a bit, then decide that their pajamas are way more comfortable than jeans.

At first, people may be worried that they may get upset or annoyed, but honestly, many people understand. So it’s okay to tell loved ones you have some things of your own to take care of! [Read: How to balance your career, social life, and dating life]

4. Turn off your cellphone

Or at least put it on silent or throw it in a drawer and forget about it for the day. There is nothing worse than having your phone go off 50 times in an hour when you’re trying to get things done. 

If you have to sit and reply to that many messages, emails, and voicemails, you are wasting time that could be spent accomplishing the things you want to get done.

If you’re worried about missing an emergency, you can just check your phone a couple of times a day. Yes, it can be tempting to have your phone right next to you at all times *like it’s your respirator and you need it to live*, but trust me. It’s better off being forgotten for the day.

5. Get up early

If you have the morning to get things done, or even the whole day, set an alarm to get up a little bit earlier *cue the moans and groans from readers!* Sure, nobody wants to get up early on a day they have to themselves … but it is a great way to kick-start the day.

Waking up early gets you up and moving before most people are, which makes getting some boring things *think errands* done a bit easier. 

Starting your day off early will also ensure that you have plenty of time to get done what you need to. Plus, you can always nap later, if that’s what you wish to do! It is YOUR alone time, after all. [Read: Quick and easy morning routines to jumpstart a great day]

6. Don’t think about anything else

Don’t let work, your parents, or even chores drag you down when you should be focusing on yourself. Those thoughts can easily conjure up stress and negativity, turning a day of rest and self-care into a nightmare.

Block all of those thoughts during the time you have to yourself. You can always worry about them when you get back to work or take care of everyone else. For now, it’s time to take care of yourself. [Read: Really quick stress busters to recharge your mind]

7. Try something new

If you really want to make the most of your alone time, then think outside the box. What good is a day to yourself when you don’t spend the time doing something you’ve never done before?

Go see a new movie, visit that restaurant you keep telling yourself you’ll try, or even just shop at a new store. How can your alone time be wasted if you’re busy doing new and exciting things?

You will most likely learn a thing or two, and maybe you’ll even find a new favorite place to eat. You never know. [Read: Ways to stop glorifying busy and start living instead]

8. Do whatever you want! 

As we said earlier…it’s YOUR time! You can do absolutely anything that you want to. Don’t settle for chores and things that HAVE to be done while you have the time. Do the things you actually WANT to do.

If you want to sit and watch 11 episodes of a series that you’ve already seen twice, then go for it! Ultimately, the time is yours to do with what you want, and nobody can tell you differently. 

Making the most out of your alone time really is all about making sure you get what you want to be done and enjoying it. Forget the rest! [Read: How to fall in love with yourself and be a better you]

How much alone time is healthy in a relationship? 

This isn’t an easy question to answer because each couple is different. If you have two introverts in a relationship, then they may require more alone time than two extroverts together. 

However, if you have one introvert and one extrovert in a relationship together, then it can be trickier to manage that. The introvert needs more alone time than the extrovert. But it can be worked through.

What it all comes down to is compromise and negotiation. If one partner needs more alone time than the other, then no one should take it personally. Just realize that it’s actually healthy.

[Read: 15 ways to give space in a relationship and feel closer than ever before]

Your alone time may seem like a waste if you’re not doing all of the things necessary to make the most out of it. We’ve all been there. Using the tips above, however, your wasted days can be a thing of the past. 

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...