Self Care 3: How much solitude is too much?
In part 2, we talked about self care through creating time for yourself. For some, time alone is not always beneficial. There isn't a set amount of solitude that defines self care, but here are some things to think about.
Some people love time alone and covet their solitude. Others view it as isolation. And to confuse matters further, now that we have social media and texting, our definition of solitude has become skewed. We can certainly be home alone for long periods of time and think we are connected to others. We have multiple contacts with on-line friends without ever meeting them.
So, for our purposes let's assume that solitude means lack of communication. And to think about it another way, you don't have to be sequestered at home to be in a state of solitude. I have gone home on Friday and not had any communication with others before going back to work on Monday. I might be in and out all weekend, but don't actually communicate with others.
Solitude, of course, is not necessarily a negative thing. Solitude may be a form of self care to you. But when it leads to loneliness, it can cause detrimental effects to your health and well being.
Loneliness may lead to stress which may lead to high blood pressure.
People who seek solitude may not reach out to others when needed. So the efficacy of solitude as an avenue to self care crumbles and may no longer work.
Solitude in the form of loneliness may lead to poor sleep or obesity, etc. and lead to deterioration of health.
Signs of too much solitude
One of the signs of too much solitude is sadness or loneliness. It can lead to depression, obesity, and even suicide.
Another sign is that you crave friendship but don't reach out.
When out with a group, you feel as if you don't belong.
You are frequently bored.
Escapes from loneliness through self-destructive behaviors such as too much food, alcohol, or drugs are detrimental.
You feel anxious when going out to join others.
Some things that may help
Look for some in-person time with others rather than relying totally on social media
Set aside time to go outside for short social excursions or just to appreciate the world outside your house or apartment.
Try something new that will get you out of the house. Sometimes just getting out will convince you that you can do it.
Schedule an activity with yourself. Set a date and time and stick to it.
Seek counseling. Dealing with loneliness is not unusual in this electronic age. There are many people who can help.
Solitude can be a choice for your well being. However, when it ceases being a time with increased productivity and/or a valued time when you can concentrate on something special, it's time to take a look at it and make some changes.
So, look at your schedule to evaluate your use of time. It can be a positive self-care strategy.