Joshua Rosenthal, Founder, Director, and Primary Teacher of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition shares his wisdom about creating a healthy and happy life that helps transform the world.
You might be a little uneasy about doing things alone, but it could be the missing key to health. Although the power of community is strong, the power of being alone is equal or perhaps stronger. If more people embraced solitude, the world would be a happier, healthier place.
Most people are always trying to fit in so they can be accepted by their peers, but the truth is that fitting in is very exhausting and rarely leads to an authentic, happy life.
One of my core concepts is fitting out – being completely yourself at all times and speaking your truth. When you fit out, you feel less like a fraud, more honest, healthier, and happier.
Be yourself – don’t try to be me or anyone else. There’s only one you and there are millions of people who need you to be yourself. When you’re yourself, you give everyone you come into contact with permission to fit out too.
The common conception is that people who spend time alone are depressed, disconnected, or antisocial, but in many cases the opposite is actually true.
People who acknowledge the need to spend time alone, and do it, are often much healthier than those who push themselves to socialize when they don’t have the energy (mentally or physically), and many people have a lot to learn from those who are able to carve out alone time for themselves.
Here are some ways to get quality alone time and harness the power of solitude:
Set boundaries with loved ones. Whether you live with roommates, your husband or family, sit down with them and explain why alone time is so important to you. Explain that connecting with yourself will help you connect more strongly and authentically with them, and encourage them to take time for themselves too. If necessary, block off times in your calendar that are just for you. Take a walk in nature, meditate, or just read a book in bed. Your mind will feel clearer and you’ll go back to your loved ones and your work with heightened intention, love, and focus.
Separate from social media, too. Especially when you’re spending time alone, it’s easy to grab your iPhone or laptop and zone out on Facebook or Instagram. If you want to reap the full benefits of being alone, disconnect from technology temporarily and notice how calm your mind becomes. Technology engages the nervous system’s stress response, even if nothing particularly stressful is happening on your screen. By disconnecting, you engage your relaxation response and reduce production of the stress hormone cortisol. This will make you feel calmer and even help with reaching your ideal weight.
Keep your space clean. It’s so much more fun to be in a space that feels like a sanctuary. Keep your home free of clutter and add some beautiful plants and flowers to keep the air clean and make you feel calm and centered. When your home is beautiful and relaxing, you’ll want to spend alone time there. It will feel like a spa. A cluttered space leads to a cluttered mind and overproduction of stress hormones, so it’s very important to give yourself a clean, beautiful space to be alone in.
Here are the two greatest benefits of spending quality time alone:
Be more creative. Spending time alone has proven to lead to more creativity and better ideas. If you’re feeling stuck at work, alone time might be the medicine you need to have your next big idea. Go for a long walk in the woods and you’re likely to come up with something even more brilliant than you would sitting at your desk.
Reduce anxiety. A lot of people feel social pressure to accept every invitation they get, and this produces a lot of anxiety. Stress and anxiety suppress the immune system, increasing the likelihood that you’ll get sick. Spending time alone boosts your immunity and makes you feel much calmer.
It’s been proven that quality alone time improves concentration, creativity, success, happiness, and more. When you’re only concerned about your own physical and emotional needs for periods of time, it gives you more energy to deeply care for your loved ones when you do interact with them.