21 Nov 2016

Alone Time: Making The Most Of It

Alone Time: Making The Most Of It on vickiarcher.com


Alone time: a time to enjoy or a time to dread?
Spending time alone often has bad connotations. We can be fearful of time spent solo and see it as a sense of failure on our parts for all sorts of reasons. It is important to feel confident alone and to be able to enjoy our own company, to re-charge and embrace those elements of life we love regardless.

I didn’t always find it easy to spend time alone. Way back in the day Sunday nights were my killers and I hated them, after a weekend of company to be alone felt isolated and depressing. They need not have been if I were able to rid myself of the fear of being alone.


It has taken me years to find the security to go it alone and I don’t always find it natural.

Spending time alone takes practise and dedication. It is so much less fraught to depend on company for our entertainment and emotional fulfilment. Being alone is oftentimes nerve wracking and confrontational; flying solo can challenge our confidence and bring on insecurities that are not necessarily real.


I have learnt to tell myself being alone, spending time on my own is healthy; rather than avoid, I am courting it.

The concept of “alone’ is not something I embraced easily. I grew up in a quiet household with plenty of alone time so as an adult I came to dread it. For many years it was easy to avoid with three small children and their busy lives to manage. The thought of spending an evening alone was not only alien to me but also a frightening concept.


Alone time, like so many aspects of maturity takes time.

I worry the impact of social media and our dependency on devices for stimulation will remove any chance of ‘alone time’. How will we ever indulge our own thoughts and our emotions when we can scroll and click our way through life?  I see myself as far too reliant on social media and as much as the joy of connection makes for great pleasure it also makes for very little time alone. The true challenge is knowing when to turn off.



How to be alone?

See solitude as a positive, as a precious gift and take that time to indulge in “me” time.


Practice happiness and optimism. See being alone as a time for happiness, not as a negative I-have-nothing-better-to-do use of time.


Try going to the theatre or the cinema alone. Use activities that are traditionally group pleasures and make them solo ones. Take tea alone in a cafe or eat in a restaurant. Dining alone is the hardest one for me and I still haven’t mastered it without the help of a good book or my iPad.


Up your creativity with writing and reading. Allow time in the day for your book, your paints or your pens and pencils. Whatever it is that says creative to you, take it up.


Revel in and celebrate your independence. Independence and confidence are inter linked and one leads to the other. They are a powerful couple.



Since working on my ‘alone time’ and seeing this time as a positive activity, not a negative one, I have felt the benefits.

I do feel more relaxed, more settled and I enjoy the company of friends and family so much more. Life feels less of a rat race or a fast jog on the treadmill and more like a chosen and considered path. I feel less frenetic and more re-charged; I have even more energy for all those people and past times I love. I find it easier to say no when I should and yes when I want. Happiness comes in many forms and being alone should be one of them.


Do you make the most of alone time? Have you mastered the art? xv



image, kate moss by tim walker for vogue us april 2012

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24 Comments

Taste of France

I think most people have a hard time dealing with alone time that they haven’t actively sought out. It’s one thing to choose to take some time for oneself, it’s another to have being alone the default. That said, when we feel good about ourselves, it matters less whether being alone is a choice or not, and we can make the most of it.
Years ago, the journalist Lynn Darling wrote an article about going on business trips, and the pleasures of doing everything as she pleased for a day or two–reading a book without interruption, lounging in the bath. When you don’t have solitude, you pine for it.

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Vicki

I guess the moral of the story is we often want what we don’t have. I do think it is easier to work on “alone time” when it is a choice and you are right.. if we are happy with the habit then forced alone time is much easier to handle..

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Anita Rivera

I crave alone time. I love the company of my husband, but since I grew up as an only child, I learned very early to be alone and like it. I think that as an adult when I am alone, it takes me back to those childhood days when I was left alone with only my imagination, a pencil and a stack of brown paper bags from the grocery (my parents couldn’t afford drawing paper). Alone time for me as a teacher, is the time I can meet myself again. In the classroom, I often feel I am entertaining the kids, but when I am alone, I am entertaining myself with ideas, plans and plots. It’s a healthy thing to spend some time alone so we can love ourselves as we should so we can go out and love others in a fuller way….just a thought.

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Mimi Gregor

Oh, gosh, alone time is vital for me! If I am among people for longer than is comfortable, I feel trapped and must get home, STAT — even in enjoyable situations. I get over-stimulated. Being alone for days on end does not faze me. But then, I am an introvert (which is NOT the same as shyness. I am not shy.), which means I energize myself by spending time alone. Extroverts (who can be shy — they are not necessarily the “life of the party”.) energize themselves by being amongst people. It sounds like you are an extrovert.

I also spent a lot of time alone as a child, since I was an only child, and mothers did not over-schedule their children back then. (I think parents do their kids a great disservice by filling their every moment with things to do. Children must learn how to handle boredom and fill their time without relying on others.) I think that having to entertain myself expanded my creativity. It instilled a love of reading in me. It made me more of an individual — I realized that I did not have to follow the crowd, because I was just fine without “the crowd”.

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Chicatanyage

I am quite comfortable being alone. I learnt to rely on my own resources way back in the early 80s when circumstances were such that I was on my own a lot. Recently I have spent a considerable amount of time on my own just “pottering” (love that word) round the house (in this instance under doctors orders). Very peaceful not having any deadlines or pressure.

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Wendy Going Forward

I have come to enjoy some alone time. I can read, binge watch movies and television shows my husband is not interested in, chat on the phone endlessly. I have never been able to eat a meal in a restaurant or go to a play or concert alone. I think one day I might work up nerve to take a cruise by my self but I would take my meals in my room!!
One thing I have been working on is mindfulness, trying to live in the moment.

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Lidy@FrenchGardenHouse Antiques

Like our darling friend Anita, I too am an only child, so alone time comes natural. That is not to say that I don’t relish our house full of children and grandchildren, I love it when they are here! But at least one time a day ( obviously not when they are all here ) I love nothing more than at least an hour all alone.

I thrive on being alone for periods of time, it’s when I am able to be my most creative, planning out my magazine articles for magazines, displays, writing, painting, and creating things, and planning entertaining guests and family, or what I can do to make my world a kinder, better place.

I think it’s wonderful to embrace the alone time to recharge, and invigorate the imagination, balanced with time spent in the company of others.

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Kaye

Being single for long periods has made me so very good at being on my own, that I have to accustom myself to being with family and friends full on . . . I will always crave my own company and especially my coffee and croissant & kindle in bed on a sunday morning . . . though I must say I am also very ok with sharing that sunday morning experience from time to time :)

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Pamela

Interesting post and comments. Most people seem to need a mix of both – company and alone time. As a devoted reader I enjoy being alone with a book or newspaper. If my husband is around then he constantly interrupts from what he is reading to talk about things that have caught his attention. This can be good, but sometimes it’s a bit irritating.
Have no problems with eating alone in a restaurant. I often had to travel overseas to conferences or meetings for work – so I’m quite used to doing this. Sometimes I had to lead a gaggle of politicians around as their minder in foreign places – they always liked the feeling of being looked after.
If alone I always ask for a nice table for one – and don’t let them seat me next to the kitchen entrance or a hole in the corner. Particularly in Paris have found waiters respect women who know what they want and are confident enough to ask for it. Somehow they seem to guess that if they’re not polite and pleasant I’m the kind of customer who’s likely to just get up and walk out. This has almost never happened though as I usually find staff are amazingly nice to women alone. You can also meet up with interesting strangers, sometimes couples, sometimes individuals who happen to be alone at the time. Have had great fun chatting to complete strangers in restaurants. Not something that happens very often if you’re with someone else.
Also my husband is a hobby water colourist. If I leave him alone painting in an open air piazza or café in a little street overseas I often return to find a handful of people standing around admiring his work and talking to him. I always say to him that it’s good for him to be alone as he meets interesting people this way. If we’re together, they may kind of glance but don’t stop to chat with him. Best wishes, Pamela

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lisboalaguna

After going through a divorce ten years ago, I looked around and decided no matter how uncomfortable it made me, I was going to learn to be alone. I travelled to foreign countries alone, I dined alone, I went to concerts and museums alone, I read lots of books, and in general took good care of myself. I was lonely and scared sometimes of course — but I balanced it with quality time with family, friends and work. Now that I am happily married again and busy with life and commitments, I look back on that time as one of the best periods of my life. I learned so much about myself — I could literally feel myself growing some days. Today I still build alone time into my schedule and feel off balance when I don’t have it.

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Stephanie

Wonderful post Vicki. So many parts of it were exactly what I am feeling at this very moment. I am increasingly wanting more alone time…After four children, thousands of hours of volunteer time…I am enjoying my solitude…I don’t feel guilty…! Maybe…FINALLY in these later years I like this person I have grown to be. I know my faults but I
Rejoice knowing that I have been Blessed…and no one can ever take that feeling away from me. Happy Monday! ❤️

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LA CONTESSA

YES!
I ADORE MY ALONE TIME and I have loads of it………..
I have stepped AWAY from INSTGRAM for a couple of months…….to be HONEST I did not think I could do it!NO PROBLEM and I really do not MISS IT!ONce I made THAT announcement……..I was not picking up that phone as often and keeping it at a distance………
I am reading MORE and getting THINGS DONe for the holidays!
SOCIAL MEDIA is a TIME SUCKER……………as much as WE LOVE IT!

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Darina

I love to be alone. I grew up as an only child, so I am used to it. I love the company of others but also to have time for myself to write, explore new things etc.

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Anne

I find it hard with alone time. And now I am getting divorced it is even harder. Turned 60 this year. Husband walked out on me last year. Wanted a new life, new wife and baby. Finding it all a struggle in particularly being on my own.

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Vicki

I cannot even begin to imagine, Anne.. I am so sorry.. a tough blow and a difficult challenge… small steps and you will recover and feel better.. I am sure of that ..

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Mary-Jill

Anne, I’ve been there too 13 years ago after a long marriage – it’s hard – but you can survive – and survive WELL! This is time for you – happy to chat by email to share some ideas to help you – if Vicki agrees to send my email to you. Lots of love. Mary-Jill

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Mary Beth

As a singe Woman in her 40s I live alone and do spend time alone frequently I even work from home.I will say I love dining alone when I travel and go to new cities. I love exploring the city through restaurants, some tips on making it easier is to sit at a dining counter or bar, bring your iPhone but don’t look at it often just use it as a crutch, usually your bartenders more interactive And since you are dining alone people make conversation with you much easier and you meet the most interesting people. There is an art to it and some restaurants are better than others. Sometimes I take on a new Persona for the evening. I tell myself about these wonderful adventures and accomplishments I’ve done during the day and then I walk in there with just a little added boost almost assuming a rule so to speak. It’s kind of fun to try on a new personality or a new life just for the evening…. Like a mini holiday from your life, thanks for a great post.

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Holly

Anne ~ as difficult as your present circumstance is … there is a reason. You will find in time that the best is yet to come. I promise. I come from a similar experience and life has a way of bringing you your best happiness after the most difficult time. Hang in there, enjoy the smallest pleasures. Your joy is on its way. Again, I promise. xoxo, Holly

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Angela Muller

Well, Vicki, I have always needed solitude. I enjoy friends…I enjoy meeting others, but when I need time alone, I must have it. It replenishes my soul…helps me be more creative…a necessary balm. The most difficult time for me has always been New Years Eve…too many years of too many people, too much conversation, too much forced merriment. I finally learned to say “thank you, but I’m unable to attend”. I now look forward to that quiet evening, sitting with a good book, a bowl of Breyers coffee ice cream, then turning on the t.v. somewhere around 11:30, and watching everyone celebrate. Bliss!

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denise8689

I LOVE LOVE alone time. I crave it when I don’t get it. It nourishes my soul. I have 2 older brothers, so it doesn’t come from being an only child, like some of the others. I just feel my best when I have had time with myself to indulge my loves….which is a candle burning with a long bath and a glass of wine. I love to clean my house and know that no one will mess it up. I guess simple indulges, really, but make me the best of who I am.

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Kim

Hi Vicki
Great post!
After 14 years of marriage two beautiful daughters, home schooling – divorced, and not regretting it. I looked after my family with all I had. My girls are independent, clever and lovely.
At my work as well I’m caring and consulting with people all day, so for me time alone is needed,wanted and precious. I keep busy, gardening, craft, sewing, and yes on my iPad. Reading volumes and movie watching. This time alone keeps me sane, after one gives so much of ones self, as women do…. Recharging, silence, meditations, thoughts, good food, supplements, and joy, what ever brings blissfull joy into your life. And it’s always the simple thing isn’t it? Freshly made bed, fresh flowers/plant bought home, a good cup of tea/coffee, that book you cannot put down, fresh air/breeze, baby animals. On and on so much to bring joidevivre 💫

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Nelson Bartley

LOVE to be alone. I need lots of alone time, in fact, which was a challenge when my three kids were little. Thank goodness for pre-school! And elementary and middle and high school and college and working husbands. Nothing better than being in my house by myself. Although I will also say nothing better than a party! Or a day spent with someone interesting.
When the house is full I find my alone time after everyone else has gone to bed. Sometimes that makes for late nights and loopy day afters.

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Teddee Grace

It all depends on whether you’re an introvert or extrovert. I not only love being alone, but need to be alone a great deal of the time. I enjoy my own company! I never get lonely and I’m never bored. I find being with people taxing. A little bit goes a very long way.

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Pam

Hi, my alone time is evenings when my husband does shift work from 6pm to 2am. I’m still trying to get a routine going and as I have started another semester of my art history degree study fills some of the time. My alone time allows me a break from the constant worry of observing my husbands depression – this is a welcome break for me after a rough few months. I am hoping my alone time will be a healing time too.

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