The Benefits of Intentional Solitude


Not all alone time is the same...

Susan J. Noonan, MD, MPH, discusses the benefits of purposeful solitude.

There is a stigma around being alone. Balancing out social interactions with alone time is important for patients, and clinicians can help them understand the psychological benefits of intermittent, intentional solitude. While everyone must spend some time alone, not all alone time is the same.

Short-term solitude rather than isolation has a purpose: it is soothing and rejuvenating, allows time for self-reflection, and can be helpful when you are overwhelmed. Solitude does not have to be self-indulgent or selfish.

On the other hand, involuntary social isolation is linked to loneliness and feeling cut off.

Clinicians can help patients work to help minimize barriers and encourage them to engage in positive social interactions while also building in restorative alone time.

Dr Noonan is a physician, mental health and wellness coach; author of 5 books on managing mental health and mood disorders with a print and video blog; consultant; group facilitator; and certified peer specialist. Dr Noonan is the inaugural recipient of the National Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Peer Support Specialist of the Year 2022. Her most recent book, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, is Reconnecting After Isolation: Coping With Anxiety, Depression, Grief, PTSD, and More.

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