Living in a crowded, fast-paced city like Singapore, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or “on” all the time. Everywhere we turn there are distractions, and we work so much that we rarely have a moment to ourselves.
Even when we do find time alone, we can’t be without our electronic devices. For many of us, winding down or chilling out means watching TV, spending time on social media, reading the news online, or talking to friends on the phone.
It’s little wonder, then, that we’re a stressed-out, impatient and high-strung bunch.
But the good news is that you don’t have to travel to some faraway beach destination to get a little peace. A 2017 University of Rochester study found that just 15 minutes of solitude a day can help busy, stressed-out folks feel calmer and more centred.
The researchers discovered that spending time alone “deactivates” our emotions, settling us when we’re feeling angry, frenzied, upset or anxious. And the busier you are, the more likely you are to benefit from time alone.
Of course, “alone time” means just that, so find a quiet and private space, turn off your electronic devices and tell everyone to leave you alone. Simply by enjoying 15 minutes of solitude a day, you will:
Feel more rested
It’s the perfect opportunity to sit down, close your eyes and relax your body. Like taking a nap, being alone has a rejuvenating and energising effect.
When you’re alone and allow yourself to think about nothing for a while, you switch off the parts of your brain that promote heightened awareness, which can help bring your stress levels down.
Boost your productivity
There’s no doubt that when you remove all distractions and interruptions, you can think and concentrate better. And when you’re more focused, you’ll find that you can get more done in half the time.
Solve problems more effectively
When your mind is clear of distractions, you’re better able to process the problems that are weighing on your mind and come up with good solutions for them.
Make better decisions
With no one around to influence you with their views and opinions, you’re in a better position to reflect on important decisions and go for what you want.
Understand yourself better
It’s an opportunity for you to find your own voice, connect with your feelings, and increase your self-awareness.
Being alone doesn’t mean feeling lonely or bored – three women tell us how they enjoy their me-time:
“As a mum of two very active toddlers, I’m constantly run off my feet. It’s crucial that I make time for myself every day otherwise I think I would go nuts! I try to wake up before everyone else and before the sun rises – I sit out on my balcony in the cool morning air, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing. I don’t think about anything in particular, my main goals are to settle my mind and build up positive energy. Afterwards, I feel calmer and prepared to face the challenges ahead.” – Theresa*, 39, part-time teacher
“I work more than eight hours a day, six days a week, so I spend a lot of time in the office. For about 20 minutes every afternoon, I close my office door, turn off my computer and phone, and sit in my chair and try to meditate. My employees know not to bother me when my door is shut. It’s hard to ignore the outside noise but I’m slowly getting better at it, and when my 20 minutes is up, I feel less stressed and more in control of my thoughts and emotions.” – Claudia*, 35, entrepreneur
“I have a massage once a week. For that whole hour, I’m just laying on the massage table in silence (my therapist and I don’t talk to each other during that time). Random thoughts may enter and leave my mind but I don’t pay attention to them. Instead, I focus on how good my muscles feel and try to visualise the tension leaving my body. When my hour is up, I feel ready to take on the world. The other good thing is that the effects stay with me all week, until my next spa appointment.” – Rachel*, 42, designer