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  • Writer's pictureAlex Rathbun

Alone time

Alone time

Alone time and I have had a rollercoaster of feelings toward each other throughout the years.

In middle and high school, I loved being extremely busy - I'd squeeze my homework into the small blocks of time I could find in between cross country, youth group, volunteering, work, and lots of time with friends. I thought I was 100% extroverted and never had much desire for alone time.

Then college came along and soon after, bad anxiety hit me for the first time. Suddenly I craved time alone and time with just my (then) boyfriend. I couldn't handle being with people all the time at the many events an overloaded student and RA finds herself committed to - staff meetings, floor events, classes, group projects, other job, friends, boyfriend. Each day I would wake up early in the morning to have some peace by myself in my 80 square foot solo dorm room where I'd drink my coffee and eat my microwaved oatmeal in peace before the rush of the day began.

I think that season taught me that 1. I am closer to the middle of the introvert/extrovert scale than I thought I was and 2. to rest. On Sundays, I would truly try to practice sabbath by doing as little homework as I could and just slowing down to recognize the world wouldn't fall apart without me being productive.

Over the past few years, I've floated back and forth between being too busy and having plenty of rest time ... until BAM! Suddenly I quit my job and was spending 9 hours/day alone at home. Cue the panic attacks. Too much alone time and mental space left me both overwhelmed and crippled. Thus, I learned to proactively plan for my anxiety by scheduling as much time with others as I could during those first few months of freelance life.

Which then brings me to today. For the first time in a while, I feel like my life is fairly balanced. Between babysitting, recurring graphic design projects, blogging, church work, photo clients and my social life, I am feeling pretty satisfied with my level of busyness. But some weeks are very full and I'm learning that sometimes I have to say no to others in order to give myself the most amazing gift: uninterrupted alone time.

Depending on what life season you're in, you may or may not have much time for this. If you are parent with young kids at home, you probably have less time for this that the average single person. But I'm telling you, some time with just you, no phone, no one needing anything from you, is so refreshing for your mind and body! I can guarantee you I am a better wife, friend, and creative when I find some alone time.

If you can find even just 20 minutes a week, run yourself a bath! Go for a walk. Sit on the couch with a cup of coffee and don't look at your phone. Sit with your thoughts. Or if that's too hard right now, grab a book and sit with someone else's thoughts. This is not selfish of you!

We were not meant to be productive machines, constantly pumping out work. We are humans with physical and mental needs, and I truly believe this is a need everyone has. Don't ignore it and don't put it off! Give yourself the gift of alone time.

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