I was very interested to see an article from the British Psychological Society lauding the positive benefits of solitude.
My interest was stimulated because I have recently noticed a lot of articles about the negative effects of loneliness, which is a growing problem in our 24/7 switched on but isolated-of real-human-contact world. Of course, partly it’s a matter of degree. Taking some time out from a busy life can be nurturing, whereas not having anyone to talk to – ever- can be experienced as soul crushing despair.
I would suggest that how we use our minds plays a big part in both sides of the experience. We are all living in the feeling of our thinking. Biologically, our thinking and emotions are linked.
So what does this mean?
One of the reasons we can become stressed is that the noise of the world and other people contaminates our own thinking and we feel the linked affect of that. For example, working in a toxic environment can, and often does negatively affect our feeling and is more likely to have us thinking in negative terms as we (unconsciously) sync with the group.
Getting out by yourself can ease that overwhelm an allow your own innate wellbeing to recover. I imagine it being like an energy bar in a computer game!
Conversely, if someone is lonely and have beliefs about that state being a bad thing, then they are going to be spending time alone feeling bad and then that will appear as evidence that being alone is a bad thing. It becomes self reinforcing.
There does seem to be some indication that we are social creatures and having a positive network of people around us can inoculate us from some forms of adversity, so perhaps this aspect is not all in the mind. However, if you are in a positive space yourself and your own inner dialogue and beliefs nurture you, being alone may not be harmful in itself.
I wonder what you think, as you read this?