There are many ways to spend time alone. The differences in how you spend time alone come down to how you think and feel alone. There is an essential difference between alone and lonely. Society views spending time alone as bad yet fails to differentiate between solitude versus loneliness.
Solitude Versus Loneliness
What is solitude? Solitude is the act of being alone or remote from society. Solitude is a state of spending time on your own without being lonely, and it can lead you to self-awareness. It is the state of being able to be alone without being lonely. Solitude is a positive way of being alone. You can use solitude as a time for self-reflection. Solitude is a time for contemplation and to think about yourself and the world. Thinking, asking questions, and having peace in your mind is right. Deep thinking can lead to increased productivity and creativity.
There are different ways that you can have solitude. You can experience solitude in nature. You can experience solitude through spirituality and meditation. You can have solitude by taking some time to read a book or contemplating life. Solitude is positive because you choose it. You can use solitude as a time to refresh yourself, pursue something you are interested in learning, or developing a skill. You can use solitude to build self-awareness and continue developing yourself into the person you want to be.
There are also benefits from solitude. Solitude helps to increase productivity because you spend time focusing on finishing one thing. This time in solitude boosts your productivity, and studies confirm the connection between productivity and solitude. Solitude can help to increase your creativity and by decreasing your distractions. People are more productive and creative when they work in an office or a private space than a space with an open floor plan because of solitude. Solitude improves your psychological well-being. When you learn to spend time alone, you develop solitary skills that make you mentally stronger. When you spend time alone, studies have found that people are happier, have better life satisfaction, and have lower levels of depression. Being alone can also help you to improve your relationships. When you spend time alone in solitude, you develop more compassion for people.
In contrast, you develop an “us versus them” mentality that comes with spending time with family, friends, and colleagues. Solitude is a way for you to get to know yourself. When you spend time in solitude, you separate yourself from outside influences. You don’t have to worry about someone else’s emotions. As you get to know yourself more, you continue to get more comfortable in your own skin and who you are, and you start to get in touch with your authentic self. Once you know who you are, you can begin to plan your life by setting aside time and goals to reach your aspirations, dreams, and goals.
Loneliness is a distressing experience that occurs when that person perceives a person’s social relationships to be less in quantity, and especially in quality, than desired that leads to a state of distress or discomfort that results when one perceives a gap between one’s desires for social connection and actual experience. There is a loneliness epidemic, and it has been amplified by lockdown loneliness during the Covid pandemic. Loneliness is isolation and is a negative state. In contrast to the solitude which you choose, loneliness is forced upon you.
There are adverse effects of loneliness. The health effects of loneliness have similar consequences to smoking, obesity, lack of access to healthcare, and lack of physical activity. The results of loneliness are premature mortality. Chronic loneliness can also be experienced when someone lacks the mental, emotional, and financial resources to go out and social interaction with others to meet social needs. Chronic loneliness also happens when someone does not have a social circle to reach out to and interact with in your life.
You don’t need to be alone to experience loneliness. Loneliness can be experienced in public when people surround you. It can also happen to people who are married with their spouses and children. Loneliness can also be experienced when people in a public space surround you. A 2019 Pew Research Center survey found that more than 6,000 adults in the United States linked loneliness to overall dissatisfaction with one’s community, family, and social life. The quality of life declines from loneliness. The loss in life quality is because loneliness negatively affects the immune system and “fight or flight” mentality from stress.
If you are dealing with loneliness, you can find a roommate to have a social company living alone. Another option is to find cohousing options where you live. Cohousing allows you to interact with different people where you can have shared dining, recreational spaces, and laundry in the housing building. You can also work to build a community if you do not have one. You can have a community by going to events to find people who share your values or going to a place to meet people.
There is a difference between solitude and loneliness. Singles can use solitude to reflect, contemplate, and focus on productivity and creativity. Singles can avoid loneliness by having a community and becoming comfortable spending time alone with themselves.
What are other differences between solitude versus loneliness?