By David Joel Miller.
You wanted alone time – now what?
Are you like the rest of us? Your life is hectic? You wish the kids or the spouse would leave you alone? At work if it isn’t the boss it is the coworkers or the customers that are always after you?
Is it hard to find some alone “ME” time?
When you do get that alone time, do you start feeling lonely or restless and wondering what to do? Then do you go looking for someone to take your mind off being alone? Being alone should not mean being lonely. In some other posts we have talked and will talk again about how to cure that chronic feeling of loneliness that some people experience every time they do get some alone time.
Should you be gifted with some time alone, to yourself, try to make the most of that time.
Here is a list I have complied of things to do when the pressures of life suddenly stop and that me time materialized. This list is things I do, things others have told me they do and things that self-help books have recommended. If you have others to contribute to this list, send it on.
Are you a chronic workaholic? Doing nothing can be a challenge. If your car was driven nonstop for months on end things would start breaking. It needs some down time and some maintenance. So do you.
Some of you, you know who you are, feel guilty when you are not doing something. Learning to relax and distress can be a challenge. Sitting doing nothing does not mean you are wasting time.
Force yourself to do nothing and see if it doesn’t feel like something you could get used to. If it is really uncomfortable you can pick something else farther down the list.
Pick a minimalist activity.
Fishing is good for guys. We sometimes call it getting your line wet. I see men sit down, put their line in the water and wait all day for a fish to bite. Does it matter that no one has caught a fish in this body of water for years? Not really. It is not the catching that maters but the time spent alone contemplating whatever comes to mind that is important.
Bird watching can be another good minimalist activity. Careful now, do not become fanatical about this and start taking trips to the North Pole for that rare bird you have never seen.
I can sit for hours in my yard, though I rarely do, and watch the birds. I know precisely which birds I will see most of the time, but that does not distract from the pleasure of watching them in their daily activities.
Take up meditation.
Meditation does not mean you need to adopt an eastern religion. There are many varieties of meditation. Simply learning to observe that you are thinking, watch that thought run through your head and then let it go without the need to chase it down is a way of meditating.
There are other simple meditations that can help you learn to clear your mind and develop better focus without the need to chase after an unquiet mind.
Restart things you used to like to do.
Are their activates you used to do before you became so adult and so busy? Did you like to read just for the pleasure of it? Did you used to draw or ride a bike? Think about reactivating pursuits you used to enjoy. Read a book, sing a song, learn or recite a poem.
Having a hobby that you do for pleasure not for profit or prestige can return joy to an over busy life.
Take a walk.
Walking is good for your health, physical and mental. It increases metabolism and reduces depression. It is not the speed that matters or the distance; it is the getting out in the fresh air and moving that will show benefits in many areas of your life.
Work on yourself.
Spend time on yourself. Some people journal others talk with a sponsor or close friend. Consider your goals and your values. Are all the things you do taking you closer to where you want to be or are they needless activity. Why are you working on making money and pleasing others so that someday you can do what you want? Make an effort to include this self-improvement program in your life now.
Make up a gratitude list.
Making a gratitude list is one of those great ideas that most of us never have time to do. When you have some down time it is good to take stock of your life. Like any good inventory your personal look at yourself should include inventorying all those things that are good in your life.
What are the things you feel bless your life? Do you take the time to enjoy those things you wanted and worked for?
Take yourself somewhere.
Are there places you would like to go or things you want to do but there is no one who will do them with you? Take yourself places. Create enjoyable memories with yourself.
Call a friend.
When there is nothing you absolutely must do, try doing some things you want to do, call a friend or send them an email. Do this just to chat and stay in touch. Avoid calls that involve things you have to do like setting appointments or saying thank you for past favors.
Make a list of the happy times in your life.
It is way too easy to remember the pains of life but the happy memories, they get lost in the shuffle. When you are alone take the time to reflect on those things that stand out in your memories. What was the best time you ever had? Think about the way you might reminisce with a friend or love one and take that tour down memory lane all by yourself.
Travel does not need to be those gigantic once in a life time events, though they can be if you chose. Make time to explore the out-of-the-way places close to home. Take a drive, visit a museum, see the zoo or just walk in a place that you have never been.
Not sure what places near home you might want to visit? Take a virtual tour and do a web search on places near your home. It is amazing that we might live around the corner from something tourists come to see but we never take ourselves there.
Stay tuned for more suggestions on things to do when you have some time to yourself. In the mean time – have you found anything that works for you in those times between work and rushing to the next thing? Willing to share?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books