The last twelve months of being in lockdown have taught us a great deal about ourselves and nudged many of us into reviewing what we value most in life.
For many of us, our priorities have changed.
It’s also been a time when we’ve had to confront different aspects of ourselves too. To discover how we feel about being alone, how much being with others makes a difference to our lives. Some of us have had to spend vast amounts of time alone at home, as in-person work, friends, family and lifestyle have all disappeared, effectively removed from our regular lives.
Then there are those who have maintained constant contact with their partners, children and work, being required to be together, home educating whilst adapting to working and sourcing all their needs online, having everything delivered to their homes.
For some, this has been a precious time, really getting to know each other well, experiencing the highs and lows of lockdown, enjoying talking, sharing moments, going for walks, cooking and eating together. They’ve established new routines and are none too keen to let the world back in.
Whilst others are eager to rejoin the world, desperate to circulate again, keeping some of the best bits from lockdown, yet not remaining so tightly cocooned together.
On reflection, do you prefer to be alone or with others?
So much depends on what the situation at home is like. For those of us who comfortably live alone, we’re likely to be pretty self-contained, already supporting our needs, availing ourselves of online links. It’s possible that lockdown hasn’t really impacted too much on our way of life.
But for those used to going out to work, networking, having a busy work and social life, taking regular holidays, or for those people consigned to home with restless children and partners, endless zoom meetings and no real options to go outdoors it’s been a very different scenario.
Preferring to be alone or with others depends very much on what’s entailed and what the alternative choices are. The thought of sharing with others may mean that you’re under pressure to talk, have a conversation, walk at their pace, compromise. These things can seem too much, especially if you’re in desperate need of a break and some me-time.
However, they can be a welcome relief if you’re in danger of becoming too insular, stuck in your comfort zone and in need of a little motivation.
Sometimes, taking a regular break alone, to perhaps sit with a brew, have a 20-minute soak in the bath or go outside for some time in nature can mean that you’re able to destress and return in a better frame of mind. You’ve enjoyed a little space, have reintroduced some calm and consequently feel more positive about appreciating what you’re returning back to.
Then there are those of us who have interests that no one in the family shares. Going for a run or a game of golf may not be on their radar. So doing it on our own means that we’re still able to enjoy it and not miss out on something that’s important to us. Also, it offers an extra dimension to our conversations when we return home.
Being with others can provide the encouragement and motivation to do something we may want to do but keep putting off. Other people can motivate us to try new things, chivvy us along if we’re hesitant. But remember that if they subsequently lose heart we may well become demotivated too.
Remember too that there are many things we may start together but actually end up doing alone. Going for a swim, a bike ride, studying online, losing weight, stopping smoking. All are activities which we may commit to doing en masse, but in reality, spend most of our time doing alone. Yes, we may travel together, check in regularly for updates and pep talks, but most of the time our success is down to our individual efforts.
When we spend a lot of time with others scheduling a little time alone can be a treasured, jealously guarded interlude. Eagerly anticipating a day on your own, planning your treats and how you’ll enjoy your me-time, only to then discover that others also have the day off can be a huge disappointment!
Scheduling regular personal time can significantly improve your quality of life.
Even if you simply park your car for a quiet ten minutes after work before you return to your busy home life, doing that can make a huge difference to your mood and help draw a line under the day’s stresses. Using the journey home or taking a ten-minute break can enable you to separate the varied parts of your day, allow you to refresh and look forward to rejoining your life with a better mindset. Then you get the best from being both alone and with others.
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She’s the author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit www.