Solitude versus Loneliness

Posted on October 18, 2018

Loneliness is becoming a prevalent issue in our highly technologically-connected society today. People are gradually feeling more distant from one another. Social interactions are essential since it is something humans need to survive. People with stronger social relationships are more likely to survive in this world as compared to people with weaker social relationships. The negative effects of loneliness on survival are similar to that of alcohol consumption and smoking, also surpassing that of obesity and physical activity. This proves that social isolation can have quite a strong effect on one’s well-being and health in the long run.

There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Being alone means separation and being isolated from others, while being lonely leads to sadness from being alone. Being alone is a status of being by yourself, voluntary or involuntary. It does not specifically lead to any emotional effect. The feelings associated with being alone varies from person to person according to their perception of it. However, loneliness is an emotional experience influenced by the situation of being alone. Such feelings might lead to negative emotional consequences like depression. These emotional consequences If severe enough, can result in detrimental health impacts in future. Loneliness is a common health issue that needs to be treated for one’s own physical and mental health status.

There are situations when being alone has positive impacts or might even be needed. Positive effects of solitary time include being efficient, allocating solitary time voluntarily, able to be part of a social group when needed, capable of managing one’s feelings and having positive relationships with others. The following are an elaboration of how solitude is effective:

1. Voluntary Solitude

One usually seeks alone time to be away from the overly busy life, any excessive drama or temporarily staying away from social interactions while spending some emotional time with yourself. When one seeks time and space to be alone, they do so to fulfill an inner need, believing it would greatly benefit us. Solitude is also not a result of exclusion from a group or not having any company to interact with.

2. Solitude should be sought only if one can manage their emotions effectively

The reason for seeking time alone should be to better one’s psychological, emotional and spiritual well=being. Solitude should help one feel better. If any negative feelings or thoughts start developing, one should rethink how they spend their alone time as it solitude should not lead to depression, anxiety or any negative emotions. One should seek help if any negative feelings arise.

3. Solitude is healthy when one can be part of a social group any time they want to

As we decide to spend some alone time, it is essential to have a supportive social circle to turn to. Peer support and occasional social interactions are essential for one’s physical and mental well-being.

4. Solitude is beneficial when one has positive relationships outside of it.

Solitude is an active decision to enjoy some alone time, not something that one is forced into doing because of social exclusion or distorted relationships with others. If one faces difficulty establishing positive social bonds, he or she should seek professional help in building and keeping healthy relationships.

The following are some positive impacts of solitude:

1. Solitude enhances creativity and allows space for creative minds to be stretched and thoughts to be expressed.

2. Spending time with yourself is also a chance to think about the self as a separate identity from the friends they usually interact with. It is essential to reflect on our own emotions and thoughts occasionally to benefit the way we perceive ourselves and our relationships and attitudes when communicating with others.

3. Lastly, solitary time is when one can rest. It can be emotionally draining to be constantly busy. This quiet time gives us space to internalize everything we have experienced and better understand all we have been through. Certain effective ways of having a fulfilling solitary time include going for walks, relaxing by the beach or any calm and tranquil environment.

Category(s):Adjusting to Change / Life Transitions, Adult psychological development, Health Psychology, Life Purpose / Meaning / Inner-Guidance, Positive Psychology, Self-Care / Self Compassion, Social Isolation

Source material from Psychology Today