Growing up, I didn't have a lot of privacy. My room was basically a hallway, as the only door to my the room my brothers shared was right by my bed. Most of my friends had their own bathroom but in our house, we all five shared one. It never bothered me much, but I've come to realize years later that because of this, I like my space. I enjoy being alone. I never consider myself "bored" and could spend hours just lounging and reading a book undisturbed. With a toddler, however, "me" time doesn't come easily. I have to really work for a few minutes of silence. It may sound bad, but I find this quiet time crucial to staying positive and patient throughout the day.
It doesn't have to be sprawling out in a hammock for three hours, reading a juicy romance novel and eating bon bons (although that does sound amazing). I'm happy with twenty minutes of flipping through a magazine and painting my toenails. As long as my mind and body feel rejuvenated by the end, I consider the "me" time a success. We all need this time, and I'll give you a few reasons why.
1. You'll actually be more productive.
It's hard to believe that taking time for yourself can increase productivity, but it's true. When you're surrounded by people, it's easy to get distracted. When you're alone, you can focus more effectively and concentrate fully. Even if you're just taking time to rejuvenate, ideas and inspiration will flow much better and faster when you're alone.
2. You'll be a better decision maker.
Oh man, I am the worlds worst when it comes to making big decisions. I can choose Burger King vs. Chick Fil A all day (CFA, duh) but when it comes to the big stuff, I really struggle. According to Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness, doing something creative, whatever it may be, is the best way to facilitate brainstorming. When you're struggling to make a difficult decision, picking up a sketch pad, working with clay, gardening, or writing may be the best antidote. The act alone-not the end product-flexes and recharges your "idea muscles", which can help you think differently as you continue working through the challenge.
3. Your memory is better.
According to a Harvard study, people form more accurate and enduring memories if they believe they're experiencing something alone. If you're relying on your memory to do your work, absorbing the needed information alone has its perks.
4. You're more creative.
When it comes to fresh perspectives, alone time is pivotal. When we are alone, we can readily enter into metacognition, the process of thinking critically and reflectively about our own thoughts. Stale ideas become new and fresh. Being alone means you stop absorbing other peoples' ideas for a time. We often don't realize how much other people influence us and our opinions. Stepping away from the constant push of others allows creativity to thrive.
5. It helps you get a better night's sleep.
Each night when we're sleeping, our minds process the day's events, consolidate our memories and digest emotions, according to Shelby Freedman Harris, PsyD, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Not only is it tough to fall asleep when your mind is running rampant, but, according to Harris, many people who are stressed or anxious "report spending most of their night physically sleeping, but feeling like their minds never fully turned off." To improve your sleep (and the healing process that goes with it), Harris suggests taking an hour before bed to engage in a "gentle" and "single-focus" activity, like painting your nails or reading a book, which will eliminate multi-tasking or otherwise stress-inducing conversations (even if they're just about who will pick up the kids tomorrow) and prepare your mind for deep rest.