German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “One can be instructed in society, one is inspired only in solitude.” Walking away from society to find solace in your own company is not a new concept. People from around the world embrace solitude; be it camping on a lonely mountain or staying at home doing nothing but self-reflection and introspection. But don’t confuse loneliness with solitude. Both are as different as night and day—while loneliness is an expression of a sense of isolation and sadness that is harmful to your health, solitude is a choice to stay alone and let yourself heal without feeling lonely.
As Goethe rightly said, solitude does bring out your creative side. Isaac Newton, Shakespeare, and many such great people from history did their best work while in solitude. Even today, renowned writers, singers, and artists spend time in solitude to work on their craft. It begs a question—what makes solitude so effective and powerful? When you bask in solitude, you get rid of all distractions, listen to your own thoughts, and reconnect with your inner self. It’s like a mirror being held up in front of you, which reveals all that you need to see.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, millions of people are living in self-isolation, which is not a choice but a necessity. Self-isolation, however, can also be an opportunity to self-reflect. Spending time with yourself can bring stillness to your rather agitated mind. It can help you suppress the bouts of negative emotions and help you see light at the end of the tunnel. In this feature, Soulveda explores what makes solitude so effective and how it can be your biggest strength during such difficult times.
Recharges your mind and body
When you are out in the world—socialising, managing daily chores, working, or performing different tasks throughout the day—your mind works in a multitasking mode. Most of the time, the tiredness you feel at the end of the day is because of just that, a tired mind. Keeping to 30 minutes every day for yourself to do nothing but sit idle with your thoughts can help you calm your nerves. These few minutes of solitude offer your body an opportunity to catch up with your mind and also build your mental strength. “Being with yourself gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly. It’s an opportunity to revitalise your mind and body at the same time,” says psychologist and author Sherrie Bourg Carter.