How Much Alone Time Is Too Much Time Alone?
I ask myself, "How much time alone is too much time alone?" on a regular basis. When it is 6 p.m. and I have been writing all day and have not left my house for more than thirty minutes to walk my dog. Or when it is 4 p.m. and I am exhausted because the sun has slipped away again and I'm getting sort of sad. Spending time alone, being able to be alone, is healthy. But when you live with a mental illness, spending too much time alone, well, take it from me--it gets pretty lonely.
Spending Time Alone is Healthy
Here are some reasons why spending time alone is a good thing:
- Spending time alone keeps people well-adjusted
- It allows us to get to know ourselves: The process from infant to adult gradually teaches us that we can be alone.
- We learn essential life skills. We can cook for ourselves and clean and pick up the phone if we have had enough of being alone.
- It gives us time to think about our lives and even strengthens relationships.
That's all great, but it can be hard to separate a healthy amount of alone time from too much time alone.
How Much Time Alone is Too Much Time Alone?
This varies from person to person. Some people are perfectly happy and healthy--that's a very important word in this context--spending most of their time alone. Other people need to be around others on a more regular basis. People all have needs and one of the most basic human needs is connecting with other people.
Connecting with people allows us to share experiences and ask for support when we need it and offer those in our circle support in return. When you live with a mental illness, spending time with people takes on a greater importance. If we start to become depressed, for example, we might not see the symptoms as clearly as someone else in our lives does.
The time we decide to spend alone should be based both on what we feel we need and what works to help us recover from mental illness--it is a vital part of self-care.
Champagne, N. (2012, October 22). How Much Alone Time Is Too Much Time Alone?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2012/10/how-much-time-alone-is-too-much-time-alone
Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne
I see my son once a week, my mom is in a home, she had dementia.
I worry all the time I will get dementia...
I'm 65...and depressed and sad and lonely!!
Mainly frightened...dont have money for therapy.
Thank you for your comment. Have you thought about local drop-in centers or clubhouses? I work for a small arts center for people with mental health and substance use issues. We have groups for art, writing, and music, but honestly it's not about art or therapy. We have the groups to hang out and get out of the house. It's a safe place where you will more than likely meet someone that feels the way you do. Do you have any organizations like that where you live? If you're in the States, maybe you can check your local NAMI. That's just one idea that popped into my head after seeing your comment.
people can disappear from family life when children and grandchildren reach adulthood. They may have become isolated from friends whilst caring for thier families.
It is hard to make new friends in old age, we need the company of allage groups , not just that of old, often ill, strangers. Many of us work as volunteers to these people. What we need is stimulating, human company. Not rare, patronising outings or well meaning " buddies"
This is a really tough one for me. Tougher still to give advice on because it's so hard for me. Try not to count the amount of time you spend alone focus on how you feel. That's more important. So my suggestion, what often works for me, is to sit down and think about how I feel. Do I feel lonely, or do I just feel like I should be more social? Am I happy? What is in my power to change? I hope that helps a little bit!
Thanks for the comment,