Mental well-being: could there have been some benefits of spending more time alone this lockdown?
With the restrictions of the last year meaning that opportunities for social interaction have been limited, many of us have been spending much more time alone.
Unfortunately, all we seem to hear on the news is how this has been detrimental to our mental health, but today I’m going to challenge this because in fact, spending time in one’s own company can actually be a good thing.
I read an interesting article on the Country Living webpage over the weekend which discussed some of the potential benefits to have come out of the pandemic, and I think it is important to mention this because not all of us feel isolated and socially deprived - I for one am actually doing my best in years!
The irony in all of this doesn’t escape me, but the fact that I am doing so well proves two things. The first is that having been through such brutal suffering for so long, being ok with life is now enough on its own, and the second is that this confirms the fact that the treatment I had over the last two years has been incredibly effective and beneficial.
I have been so habituated to being detached from others over the years because depression itself is so isolating. You can’t connect with people at all, and it makes you feel so utterly wretched that you avoid social engagements and hide away at every opportunity.
This is why telling people to ‘keep up social contact’ isn’t very helpful, because going out and seeing people is an act of indescribable effort, and forcing myself to see people while suffering from depression never made me feel any better at all.
I am so conditioned to being ‘isolated’ that now that I am not suffering with depression, I find being on my own a breeze, and I am perfectly happy in my own company. I’m not going to become a recluse, but I love sitting down with a book or going for a long walk and being alone in nature.
I revel in taking my daily walk because it gives me an opportunity to be alone with my thoughts, and I come up with my best ideas for both the blog and book when I’m out in the fresh air.
The article also made me realise that I have managed to reconcile with the past, because having recovered (and done my own therapy) I am perfectly happy with my own thoughts and I’m not continuously having to challenge or ‘observe’ them.
The Country Living article tells us that the amount of time we spend alone or in the company of others is down to individual preference, but it suggests that those who don’t enjoy being alone should try to identify why.
It could be that people who rely on constant stimulation from others, may be trying to blot out their own thoughts and feelings.
It’s so important to be able to find comfort in your own company because apart from anything, there really is no getting away from it! Being single or on one’s own should never be thought of as a bad thing either; there are in fact so many positives to be gained from spending time by yourself.
Being alone can increase productivity and creativity - this is why writers often take themselves off to a secluded location to craft their novels. There’s such joy to be had from being at one with page or screen and letting the creative juices flow without diversion or distraction.
Taking time to yourself can also be a great opportunity to recharge and facilitate self-care. I have never been great at self-care or ‘self-love’ because with depression came nothing but self-loathing and I really haven’t cared if I’ve lived or died for the majority of the last twenty years. But now that I am better, I am training myself to practice self-care and promote my mental well-being through indulging in pleasurable pastimes and past passions.
My friend Lottie has always been great at looking after herself and practicing self-love and care. She will describe a bubble bath in the most heavenly of terms as if it’s some kind of exceptional and undiscovered indulgence! I have started to take a leaf out of her book by taking a bath rather than a shower and relaxing with scented bubble bath and some really beautiful French music!
So, it would seem that the pandemic is not all doom and gloom after all, because there are some of us out here who are doing perfectly well despite the complications and restrictions.
Perhaps others could think about the opportunity for self-development that we’ve been presented with over the last year rather than focusing on all the negative points of indigence and deprivation.
Anyway, it’s something to consider, and it was refreshing to read something a little bit more positive for once rather than the incessant doom and gloom!
Tomorrow is World Bipolar Day so I will be concocting something fascinating and insightful to coincide with it! I haven’t quite decided what to concentrate on yet but I’m going to try to produce something interesting and enlightening!
If you would like to read the Country Living article about the benefits of spending time alone then you can find it here.
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,