Well-Being//

11 Ways to Prioritize Alone Time Every Day

Because pockets of solitude are essential to your sanity.

Auscape / Contributor / Getty Images
Auscape / Contributor / Getty Images

Embracing solitude is an amazing way to recharge — it has been said to help decrease stress and even boost creativity, and research has suggested that being alone may be the key to truly restorative rest. Spending time alone is a simple strategy you can use to boost your mental health, but finding solo time can be easier said than done. Keeping these benefits in mind, we asked members of the Thrive Global community how they prioritize and protect pockets of regular solitude in their daily lives.

Prime your family to respect your time

“I am very protective of my solo time. I’m an ambivert and I don’t cope well without it — it’s essential to my well-being. I start the day alone: I get up an hour earlier than the rest of my family, sit on the porch with a coffee, do a few yoga stretches and mentally prepare for the day. Sometimes, I write in my gratitude journal, weed my garden or prune my roses. Being outside and connecting with nature really helps me. On Sundays, I take a long bath, sometimes with candles and wine, and sometimes with a book, audio book or a meditation from Headspace. My family knows that this is my time and everyone respects it. Once a year, I travel alone. This also gives me time to reflect while learning about other cultures, eating local foods and meeting those I normally wouldn’t. Some people describe this time as selfish, but I think of it as self-care. I really believe the parable about putting on your oxygen mask before trying to help others.”

—Amanda Renwick, HR manager transitioning to travel writer, Johannesburg, South Africa

Add tranquility to each workday

“Being wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and working in social media, I’ve defined solitude as precious time away from a screen. Due to how my weekdays play out, I engage in three activities that don’t require a screen: my gym workout, my walk to/from work, and my evening cooking. These practices arouse my senses, add tranquility to my work grind, and helps me embrace any social interaction requiring my full presence throughout the day. I do my best to commit to a playlist for the gym, a podcast for my walk and a recipe for the meal so that my dependence on my phone decreases and my presence heightens.”  

—-Melissa Muncy, content marketing, San Francisco, CA

Block off alone time on your calendar

“As an introvert with a career requiring me to be in the public eye, alone time is necessary for my survival. My family and friends are also aware of this and are very supportive. In a busy, blended family with five kids, I schedule regular solitude, especially after busy weeks. The plan is either communicated early in the week or listed on the family calendar in the kitchen. These times include early mornings to meditate and journal and the odd evening to re-energize with a book at a local coffee shop. Communicating with your loved ones is so key in prioritizing your self care.”

—Carrie McEachran, executive director, Mooretown, CA

Don’t be a “silence filler”

“Being alone was something I thought I was good at until I gave up my corporate job and worked from home. I realised that I am actually a ‘silence filler,’ I found being alone boring (that may say more about me), and I spent my time alone feeling lost and empty. I would only feel fulfilled if I’d met someone for coffee/lunch or spoken to the local shop cashier — anything that meant that there had been someone else with me. But then I met people online who practiced solitude so well and I learned some tricks for being alone successfully. Now, I like it: I feel much more at ease and confident. I go for a walk, ponder ‘round the shops (not desperately trying to talk to strangers, just browsing), and can sit on my own in a coffee shop. I can also be at my desk in silence, alone, without freaking myself out over every creak and noise. By accepting being alone and being lonely as two separate entities, I became more comfortable, then more confident, with the word ‘alone.’ Then, actually being by myself wasn’t so boring.”

—Tina Leigh McDonald, leadership facilitator and youth career coach, Milton Keynes, UK

Make “moments of silence” an everyday habit

“I hadn’t thought about the importance of solitude before I discovered the BOTH model. I’m an only child and according to the Birth Order Typical Habits concept, I’m keen on solitude more than any other types, like the oldest, middle, youngest children. I decided to test it, and found out that my creativity increases after a moment (or two) of pure solitude. So, I made ‘moments of solitude’ my new daily ritual — a minimum of two hours of pure solitude, no matter what. I embrace alone time through meditation, hot/cold showers, swimming, running, writing poems or just random, out-of-the-box thoughts.”

—Alla Adam, business biohacker, Chicago, IL

Go for a solo run

“I enjoy running alone — it’s my time to recharge, let my soul to relax, and sometimes come up with creative solutions to problems that have been haunting me for days. Never underestimate the power of this practice.”

—Cynthia Leung, pharmacist, Kingston, Canada

Incorporate it into your morning routine

“I’ve discovered the value of solitude over time. Therefore, I stick to a morning routine that doesn’t change. When I take my dog for a walk in the park, I read my meditation materials on a bench. Then, I take time to observe nature and express gratitude. It helps me stay still, block out the world, feel my spirit, and talk with God. When I don’t get a chance to complete my routine, my day doesn’t flow as easily and my spirit longs for alone time.”

—Gerry J. Tucker, author and life coach, Austin, TX

Make it something to look forward to

“I’m an empty-nester, so finding time alone is not a challenge for me — it’s making sure that solitude boosts my happiness, rather than increase my loneliness. For my alone time to be rejuvenating, I must first set the stage by cleaning my room, adjusting the lighting, and diffusing a calming, essential oil. Then, I sit down and do an uplifting activity, like reading, meditation, or journaling. Just being alone is not enough. I have to thoughtfully use my free time in a way that feeds my soul.”

—Johnette Magner, external affairs, Shreveport, LA

Remember that being alone doesn’t equal loneliness

“Solitude is one of the self-care practices that I love the most. I like to hike by myself in the mountains near my home. Part of my spiritual practice is being alone without loneliness. In those precious moments, I feel like I’m in the flow of life, instead of at the center of it. Solitude isn’t for wimps. You actually have to like yourself to feel at home in your body, heart, and mind.”

—Lisa Cypers Kamen, optimal lifestyle management expert, Los Angeles, CA

Make bedtime sacred

“I make sure I have some solitude every single day. For me, bedtime is the perfect place to pay attention to being alone. I use the time to strip away the ‘nice and polite’ filters I’ve inevitably put on during the day, and to feel the muscles in my whole body relax, one layer at a time. Bedtime is sacred to me, because it will always and forever be a part of my daily routine (no matter what else I plan or do or get pulled into, I know for sure that I will always eventually have to sleep). So I fiercely protect bedtime as a moment to connect to myself on a deeper level, and bear witness to myself letting those filters go until I am only my honest, authentic, imperfect self.”

—Pamela Muller, spiritual director, Johns Creek, GA

Take yourself on “wonder walks”

“I schedule time every day for what I call ‘wonder walks,’ where I walk in solitude and wonder, on the lookout for what I can notice and appreciate as I walk. No matter what the weather conditions are, I walk outside for a while by myself, and I always experience something wonderful as a result, from soaking in nature’s beauty to discovering a new idea while reflecting. Walking in solitude can free us from distractions so we can be inspired.”

—Whitney Hopler, communications director, Fairfax, VA

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