The Campaign to End Loneliness launched in 2011 and, since then, they have been working to build awareness of the effects that social isolation can have on our health and happiness.
There is a strong body of evidence to suggest that loneliness can increase your risk of a whole host of serious health problems, and it is a growing issue as you get older.
Consequently, organisations such as the Campaign to End Loneliness or Age UK work hard to encourage social interaction and reduce isolation.
However, while being social is important for your health, there is research to suggest that there are potential benefits to spending time alone too.
Read on to learn why spending time on your own could be an important part of a healthy routine.
1. Reduced stress and improved mental health
It is well documented that spending time with friends and family can reduce stress and anxiety and boost your mood.
However, spending time alone can be equally beneficial because it stimulates the brain in different ways. Additionally, it may offer valuable respite if an overly active social life is causing you stress.
Some of the key mental health benefits of being alone include:
- Reducing overstimulation – Overstimulation is a common issue as we are constantly exposed to information from multiple sources like phones or TVs. Excess social activity can contribute to this and, in some cases, it causes additional stress and anxiety. Spending time alone is an opportunity to combat overstimulation and quiet your mind.
- Thinking more creatively – Being creative is an effective way to express yourself and manage your emotions, which may improve your mental health. Spending time alone can give you more space to think creatively.
- Building more social energy – Spending time with others can drain our “social energy” and it can be more difficult to engage with people properly when our energy levels are low. By spending time alone, you may be able to build more social energy so, when you are with others, your interactions are more meaningful.
These benefits may ultimately reduce your stress levels and can improve your overall mental health.
2. Meeting new people
Maintaining an active social life may be more important as you get older, as it helps you avoid the negative health benefits associated with loneliness. Unfortunately, this can be challenging.
Indeed, a study reported by the Independent found that 45% of adults find it hard to make new friends and the average person hasn’t made a new friend in five years.
Surprisingly, spending time alone may be an effective way to boost your social life as it encourages you to meet new people.
By attending events and doing activities on your own, you may be able to meet more like-minded people and expand your social circle.
Conversely, when you are in social environments with people you already know, you may be less likely to interact with new people and build relationships.
3. Learn more about yourself
As you get older and you face new challenges, it can be more difficult to maintain your independence and do things for yourself without relying too heavily on those around you.
However, you may find this easier if you are comfortable being by yourself. Naturally, you may need some physical assistance in later life, but spending time alone could help you retain your independence for longer.
Additionally, getting out of your comfort zone and spending time with yourself gives you an opportunity to reflect on your own thoughts and learn more about yourself.
You can explore on your own likes and dislikes, and your priorities in life, which may develop as you get older. In some cases, this can encourage more personal growth and ensure that you pursue the lifestyle that you want.
Find the right balance in your social life
There are numerous benefits to spending time on your own, but too much time alone could be detrimental to your health.
In fact, studies show that social isolation can increase your risk of a variety of different health conditions. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) you have:
- 50% increased risk of dementia
- 29% increased risk of heart disease
- 32% increased risk of stroke
- Higher rates of anxiety and depression.
As such, it is important that you strike a good balance between social activity and spending time alone. This may be the most effective way to protect your health as you get older.
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This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.