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.
Jeanne, N. (2012, October 22). How Much Alone Time Is Too Much Time Alone?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, March 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2012/10/how-much-time-alone-is-too-much-time-alone
Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne
This is a major problem for me. I constantly battle between my introverted personality and my social needs. Too often my introverted personality wins and then I also have to wonder is it my personality or my illness that has won. I know my depression side would be perfectly happy spending all days closed up in my room and never leaving. My illness feeds on that kind of isolation and I would get a hell of a lot worse cooped up like that. These days I still have parents getting on my case about not going out enough. I need to go make some of those always elusive friends. I think the distinguishing factor is how are you spending your time? If you’re busy doing things I don’t think it’s a big problem. If you’re spending your days in bed, watching TV, or avoiding going outside out of fear then it’s time to get out and embrace the world. Of course this is still a big problem for me.
Too much time alone is a danger zone for me during depressive episode and mixed mania due to suicidal ideation. But I do thrive on my quiet times alone to regroup from stress. There's a balance to pursue between the social and personal needs in life as a bipolar. I can see where I have used isolation to self-harm when I'm not working at being mentally healthy.
Time alone is good when you are using it properly, and not hiding. We need a balance and I find myself leaning toward too much alone and it is then that I know I need to call a friend. Sometimes I just go somewhere like a coffee shop where there are people even though I am there by myself. That can help as well, kind of like in between.
Im dealing with loneliness right now. My fiancée works night and i go to school during the day. Im not good at making friends due to my social anxiety and ptsd so i only have one friend from college currently who i only see when i go to my classes and one other friend that i see about once a month. I added it up and i spend a minimum of 60 hours a week alone. I don't think this is healthy but im not sure how to change it without causing myself more stress and flashbacks. Any suggestions?
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,
We live in a society which accepts loneliness as inevitable . Older
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"
I spend time at work, but I'm alone all the time when I'm not working...I have bad panic disorder, have all my life.
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.