Seclusion: The Good and the Bad for Self-Improvement

Seeking a safe, calm space where you can be alone with your thoughts, away from the distractions and noise of daily life, can be both enriching and rewarding. 

You can learn to look inward and rediscover what truly sparks your creativity and makes you feel alive. As a result, you’ll feel recharged and ready to dive into your personal and professional endeavors with a renewed sense of energy and purpose. 

However, there can be a downside to spending too much time alone. 

The COVID-19 pandemic produced a drastic increase in anxiety and depression, especially for those who already suffer from such conditions. The need to self-isolate and to keep social distance brought feelings of desperation and worry. 

It also intensified loneliness in people who already felt the pangs of societal disconnection, including many older adults. 

Let’s dive today into the realities of seclusion and share how it can be beneficial and detrimental to your well-being and how to find a healthy balance. 

What is Seclusion?

Seclusion is time alone. It means making time and creating space so you can be by yourself without the outside world’s interference. Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, you will benefit from some planned time alone to unwind.

Some people sit quietly, drinking a cup of coffee and watching the sunrise. Others prefer to practice a hobby, such as painting or playing music.

The key is being intentional with the time you carve out. You can experience just as much renewal from stealing five minutes to yourself as you can from booking a cabin in the woods for the weekend.  

It might not be realistic to leave everything behind for days on end, but you can take a little time each day to check in with yourself. Quieting your mind will do wonders for you in your personal and professional life. 

The Positive Impact Alone Time Has on Self-Improvement

If you approach alone time healthily, it can significantly benefit your life. 

It can re-spark creativity and inspiration. Too often, we get wrapped up in what others say should motivate or excite us, especially in today’s social media influencer realm. Over time, it can be challenging to distinguish whether you’re genuinely interested in something or just following a trend. 

When you’re alone, you’re more honest and authentic with yourself. There’s no one to impress or agree with, and you can intimately access what brings you genuine joy. 

You’ve probably heard that the real you is who you are when no one is watching. Equally appropriate would be the real you is who you are when you aren’t watching anyone else.

Separation from others or your to-do list can also give you a much-needed chance to unplug and unwind. Most of us spend a good portion of our days behind a screen, and nonstop information processing is unhealthy. 

As your eyes scan side to side, your nervous system goes into the same state it enters when it thinks you’re in physical danger. Your heart rate will quicken, and you’ll become more hypervigilant and alert, leaving you to wonder why you feel jittery and anxious, even when you lie down at night. 

Too much social interaction can leave us overstimulated and emotionally drained, and we mentally crave an escape. The same happens when we’re bombarded with people tugging at our attention. By prioritizing moments of seclusion, you can press “pause” on the noise in your head and make room for true calm. Meditation is one technique to access the subconscious used by some top leaders to regroup and soothe these responses.

Often, that’s all we need to re-emerge a happier, more centered version of ourselves. Before you can be the partner, parent, or professional you want to be, you must take time to renew yourself in the way that works best for you.

The Negative Impact Isolating Yourself Has on Self-Improvement

Restorative time alone in seclusion can benefit your life. However, it isn’t always a good thing. 

Before secluding yourself, it’s important to assess your current state. If you’re already anxious or depressed, these periods of solitude can do more harm than good. 

When you’re in a fragile mental state, you often need the gentle support of people who love and care for you. Spending time in your head can exacerbate feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Loneliness is different from choosing time alone in seclusion. 

Seclusion is voluntary, and you can change this state at any time. When you do, you return to your relationships and actively participate in your social groups.

Conversely, loneliness is more involuntary. Instead of being associated with positive renewal, it makes you feel insecure, rejected, and unwanted. Older adults feel lonely when their grown children rarely stop by to see them, and teenagers feel lonely if their peers ignore them.

When feeling lonely, you need connection and social validation, not more time to yourself. Look for ways to meaningfully connect with trusted friends, loved ones, or coaches who can reinforce your sense of purpose and community. 

How to Use Time Alone in Seclusion as a Tool for Self-Improvement

When you use the time alone to dive into yourself to become healthier, calmer, and more restored, seclusion becomes a powerful tool. It can strengthen relationships, bolster work performance, and improve overall health. 

However, it can have the opposite effect if it produces a more profound sense of neglect and separation. If seclusion reinforces negative thought patterns, then it is not a wise practice to engage in. 

Understanding what’s behind those feelings of loneliness can help you. As you become more self-aware, you can deepen relationships that will only grow stronger. 

Get in touch to better understand when and how to turn alone time into a practice that can be beneficial for you.