Today, in the age of the internet, social networking is the order of the day. Meeting new people, engaging in meaningful conversations, sharing ideas, and being part of the public discourse are some of the perks of the digital age. But as we build new connections with others, sometimes we lose touch with our own self.
We interact with others but rarely listen to our own inner voice. While walking, eating or even while relaxing, the eyes are glued to the screen. And when our focus remains on the outside, we cease to look within. Perhaps that is why it has become more important to reconnect with ourselves and indulge in some quality me-time.
Now, me-time doesn’t necessarily require taking a day off from work, pursue a hobby or spend time with family and friends. It is about consciously slowing down the pace of life and indulging in self-reflection. Me-time means getting in touch with who we are.
Unfortunately, not many of us are used to the idea of me-time. As Dr. Ester Schaler Buchholz, a psychology professor at New York University writes in her book The Call of Solitude: Alone Time in A World Of Attachment: “Nature, culture, and social training have taught us to be afraid or feel helpless when we are alone. As powerful as these lessons have been, desires for alone-time persist, and often we fear what we wish for the most.” We often misconstrue solitude or me-time with loneliness and hence become wary of the idea.
Solitude and loneliness may seem similar at first, but they are two different experiences. Dr. Buchholz defines loneliness as a state of mind that is accompanied by a sense of isolation. Unable to belong or fit in, we could feel lonely even if we’re surrounded by hundreds of people. On the other hand, solitude is a choice that we make to declutter our minds. The purpose of solitude is to actively engage with oneself to find joy and satisfaction in one’s own company.
If we learn to overcome our fear of loneliness and embrace me-time, we can rediscover ourselves and heal the mind and body holistically. An article published by the Michigan State University lists the benefits of spending time alone: “Freedom increases with the ability to engage in desired activities; creativity strengthens through using the imagination, discovering self-transformation and developing new thought patterns; intimacy increases by becoming more self-sufficient, pursuing passions and maintaining an awareness of strong relationships with others; spirituality grows when given the space and freedom to question one’s place in the universe, personal thoughts and desires.”
Here’s how you can find the me-time for self-discovery.