If you ever decide to spend an entire day alone, you will likely experience a whole host of positive benefits.
Because when it comes to reconnecting with yourself, and focusing on exactly what you’d like to do, nothing beats a solo mental health day. And yet, there are times when going a whole day without talking to anyone can have some negative consequences, as well.
So before you shut down your phone, cancel your plans, and settle in for some alone time, think about why you’re doing it. “The key is to tune into [your] own personal sense of connectedness,” Monisha Vasa, co-founder and clinical advisor for The Mental Health Collective, tells Bustle. If you need some time to yourself, go ahead and take it. But if you find that you’re actually isolating yourself, it may require a closer look.
“What matters most is understanding our unique temperaments, patterns, and vulnerabilities, and seeking the appropriate support and treatment,” Vasa says. If you think you want to be alone due to anxiety or depression, for example, seeking the help of a therapist may be a great way to feel better before the issue gets out of hand.
It’s always OK to hang out by yourself, if that’s what you’d like to do. But keep in mind the importance of socializing, too, and making time to connect. Here are a few things that can occur if you don’t interact with others for a day, according to experts.
1 You’ll Feel Refreshed Mentally
By taking a day to yourself, you might notice that you feel less stressed afterward, all thanks to the fact you unplugged and tuned others out for a while.
“We are bombarded with information constantly,” Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. “Friends, coworkers, TV, computers. Spending a day alone allows you to remove some of that over-stimulation and basically give the processing part of your brain a chance to relax.”
2 You Might Be More Irritable
If you go a day without speaking to anyone, you may also notice a higher level of crankiness once you decide to venture back out into the world or have a conversation.
“Consistent interaction with others allows our brains to acclimate to the behaviors of others,” therapist Dr. Stacy Springston, Ed.D, LPCC, NCC, tells Bustle. “But following periods of isolation, you may notice an increased sensitivity to certain behaviors.”
It’s not the end of the world if you feel cranky or don’t want to have a long conversation. But if high levels of irritation have become a problem in your life, socializing more often may be a big help.
3 You’ll Feel More In Tune With Yourself
If you’re always on the go, taking some time to slow down and reconnect with your body can be a godsend. “We spend much of our day focusing on everything else but our bodies,” Dr. Klapow says. “We are so connected to other people and other social responsibilities that we can fail to notice things like our posture, how much we are sitting or standing, when we are really hungry, when we are really sleepy. Being alone allows us to pay attention to what our body needs without competing distractions.”
4 You Might Feel More Creative
“When we are with others we hold onto thoughts, we table ideas, and push away daydreams and creative thinking,” Dr. Klapow says. But being alone, even for a day, can help all of that resurface again.
“Being alone gives us the permission to let our minds run free for a period of time,” Dr. Klapow says. “Ideas can surface with no restrictions, thoughts can come to our consciousness without worry of missing out on something — we give our brains a chance to run untethered.” And that can truly spark creativity.
5 You Might Feel Less Confident
While your self-esteem won’t plummet after one day alone, if you routinely isolate yourself — or miss out on get-togethers with friends — it can start to take a toll.
“As social beings we spend most of our time attending to and processing external stimuli from the physical world around us,” mental health therapist Dinusha de Silva- Carrasco, DSW, LCSW, tells Bustle. “However, isolation may cause us to turn our attention inward, which most of us have much less experience handling.”
While alone, you may find that you’re inner critic gets the better of you. “Negative-self talk can occur, deepening isolation and depressive symptoms,” de Silva-Carrasco says.
This is, however, something you can work on improving so that you’re able to be more independent and resilient, even when alone. It’s all about striking a balance.
6 You Could Feel More Anxious
“While socializing and being among others has its own set of challenges, reacting in real time to actual situations can help ground us in what’s going on, and not our imaginations or worst fears,” psychotherapist Rebecca Newman, MSW, LCSW tells Bustle.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t spend time alone if you have anxiety, but that going out and socializing when you are anxious may help you feel better. “Excessive anxiety carries with it the physiological symptoms like reduced appetite, insomnia, avoidant behavior, headaches, other somatic complaints,” Newman says. “Getting out and pushing through the discomfort shows you that you can both actually do hard things and that the symptoms will not persist with you forever.”
7 You Will Be Better Able To Make Decisions
“Spending the day alone can help you feel more in touch with your values, needs and priorities,” clinical psychologist Dr. Helen Odessky, author of Stop Anxiety From Stopping You, tells Bustle. And that can lead to mental clarity, which can mean an easier time making decisions, she says.
To figure out if you need some time alone, tune into yourself and assess your current mental and physical situation. Spending the day alone may be just what you need to beat fatigue and feel refreshed. But if you’re not interacting due to things like anxiety and depression, the last thing you want to do is isolate yourself.
It can take some effort, but in the latter scenario you may want to reach out to friends or a therapist for support. By treating the underlying cause for your need to isolate, you may not want to spend so much time alone after all.