Have you ever noticed that a quiet evening on the front porch with your favorite beverage can be so rejuvenating? Or how relaxing it can be to work alone in the flower bed? As a busy mom, my personal favorite is pressure washing the driveway! It is a complete mystery to my husband why I enjoy this so much, but the answer is simple! I have a high-pressure device to ward away any unwanted requests or demands from the kids! As an added bonus, most teens tend to find chores aversive, so that also is to my advantage. But in all seriousness, one of the most important things a person can do for their own mental health is to find a quiet space to be able to observe their own internal thoughts and emotions. It’s hard to attend to those things when we are distracted by our cell phones, the TV, or chatty coworkers. This internal observation allows for more self-awareness and personal reflection. Learning to observe our thoughts and emotions is also an important first step in being able to regulate intense emotions. A form of mindfulness, setting aside time to be alone with no noise can be helpful in understanding our inner workings and making important and needed changes. These moments are so important because they often lead to our own personal growth. Once you become aware of changes you would like to make, you can make intentional efforts towards your goals. Creating this self-awareness is also key to addressing other factors that may be affecting one’s mental health.
Noise is linked to stress. It’s true that people who live in overcrowded populations tend to experience more stress, and one source of stress in these instances is related to noise. As an East Texan, we may not experience this to the same degree because most of us have plenty of distance between our neighbors. But you may notice that you get irritated when the kids are too noisy, or they play their music too loud or too often. Noise pollution tends to generate feelings of lack of control, which in turn leads to lower self-efficacy and learned helplessness. In one study, researchers found that when an individual was able to manage the level of noise in their environment, they felt less stressed and were more achievement- oriented. It was also noted that individuals who felt more capable of managing the noise in their lives, also had better health outcomes.
Alone time is important in stimulating creativity. This allows you to be alone with your thoughts so that they occupy your full attention. We often have our best ideas in moments when we are alone, such as in the shower, or enjoying a nice jog. This allows your brain time to have “white space” so you can simply brain dump anything that is on your mind. The converse is that being in a busy environment can stifle creativity. In busier environments we are often exposed to others’ ideas or chatter. Our brain becomes overloaded with others’ social expectations, leaving little room to explore our own curiosities. It’s been noted that some of the best thinkers of our time, such as Albert Einstein, spent most of their time alone.
Alone time also gives you a moment to relax and allows your brain the opportunity to rejuvenate. Your brain is a muscle, too. When you use it constantly during social interactions, or by listening to the news, or during a hustling work day, those muscles in your brain are essentially “working out”. Even people who love going to the gym understand that muscles need to recover and relax. Your brain is no different. When you do this, you are able to think more clearly, concentrate better, and you may even find that it is during these moments you find the answer to some of your most pressing concerns.
Silence and alone time is not just a luxury. It is an essential part of self-care. Some people may feel very uncomfortable with this, but start small. Just practice this a little at a time if needed. You will find that the benefits of silence and alone time will lead to great improvements in your mental health and quality of life!
Connections Counseling and Psychological Services provide various counseling services to children, adolescents, adults, and couples. They are located at 1609 W Frank Ave Ste B, Lufkin, Tx 75904. Contact them at: (936) 272-0555