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The Benefits of Solitude

Socialization, 2020 style, is completely different than anything we have encountered as a society.

With shelter-in-place orders and social distancing guidelines, it’s a lot more complicated for people to come together as they love to do. While we can all still be connected to the wider world through mobile devices and Wi-Fi, many Americans still feel as though they’re been in solitude over the past four months.

"There isn't even a really agreed-upon definition about what solitude means" says Robert Coplan, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ontario Canada. Professor Coplan goes onto say that being alone is a subjective topic, that’s different for everyone. However, for people who are used to going out with friends and families, regularly, not being able to do so can make them feel separated from the rest of the world.

This change has been traumatic for many people, according to noted New York neuropsychologist Wilfred Van Gorp, who has seen it harm his patients. However, there are some benefits to being alone too.

Coplan adds, "All the evolutionary psychologists talk about the need to affiliate with others, that we evolved with this need to be around others. And that's 100% true. I also think there is a need for solitude, which has been less well defined and less well discussed. If we're not satisfying that need, there might also be a cost, just like there's a cost of being lonely if you don't satisfy your need to belong."

According to clinical psychologists, Dr. Shoba Sreevisan Ph.D. and Dr. Linda E.Weinbeger Ph.D. of the University of California, Los Angelos, “Positive reactions stem from solitude. In fact, time to be alone can be an important developmental stage.

“For instance, during adolescence, teenagers often seek solitude where they can escape from the judgment of others, have time alone to process their feelings and thoughts, perform self-introspection, and assert their need for privacy. For anyone experiencing important life changes, engaging in solitude affords an opportunity for self-reflection regarding problems and decision-making. It can also promote self-healing and its maintenance.”

Psychologist Sherrie Bough Carter of Nova Eastern University in Florida adds that time alone can help improve concertation and mood, as well as enhance relationships with others Though, she does warn that too much time by yourself can cause depression and diminish social skills.

For those, who are struggling with being alone constantly, Thuy-vy Nguyen, Professor of Durham University, in England, advises them to tell themselves “that it's not like you're isolating yourself and setting yourself apart, but that what you're doing is something of personal value."

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