Do you ever take the time to be with yourself? The answer to this question is often no. Its not something we tend to consider. We are often good at making time to connect with others, but less likely to make the time to connect with ourselves. During the last two years of the Covid 19 restrictions many of us had more time alone than we were previously used to. For some it was a feeling of isolation and disconnection, rather than one of pleasure, but what I would like to explore here is the benefit of actively choosing to spend time alone on a regular basis.
I once worked as a manager in a college of Further Education. It was a busy job, more like two jobs really, and very different from anything I’d done previously. Within three months my diary became filled up with meetings – ones that other people had requested. I was hardly at my desk, and it was a real struggle to find the time to do my actual job. I was so accommodating to everyone else’s requests that I had no time to lift my head up and organise my own work.
I knew I needed to do something to ‘take control’ of my working week and therefore I decided to ‘book’ some meetings with myself! I did this at the beginning of each week, then when people rang to arrange a meeting with me I could arrange things around the time I had previously prioritised. Of course I could choose to be flexible about this if something urgent came up. It worked extremely well and I felt happier and more capable of managing my workload as a result.
I happened on this idea by chance – or sheer desperation – but this is actually a common tool for managing time effectively and can be used in any situation, not just at work. Prioritise the things that are really important to you and allocate specific time for doing these in your diary. Then ensure that you do it!
The above is about making time to do practical everyday things, however, the power of allocating time to be alone has a far deeper, restorative value. This is unappreciated in our western societies I feel, often seen as a negative thing and something almost to be feared, but on some level I believe many of us are craving this connection with ourselves.
Last year I was very lucky to spend a whole week on my own. It felt like the most luxurious, precious time. I planned for it, took a big notebook and lots of pens so that I could draw and write – writing is one powerful way in which I can connect with my inner self. On the first morning I planned my week, giving thought to what I hoped to gain from this special ‘time out of time’ experience. There is something very relaxing about following your own rhythm. You decide when to get up, eat, walk, read, write, watch a film, walk again, sit, sleep, meditate. At first it feels strange and a little daunting to have so much time just for you, but it doesn’t take long for it to be the most positive experience.
Not everyone has the luxury of a whole week to themselves, but it is often possible to find a day here and there, or at least an hour or two in a week when you can be on your own. This gives you the space to get in touch with your own thoughts and feelings. You can choose to use this time in any way you wish. You might decide to relax, have a long bath, read a book, sew, knit, sit in the sun or make a cake, write, go for a walk, but whatever you choose to do with this precious time – do it on your own – and begin to get to know the unique, special person that is you. Enjoy.