Spending time alone doesn’t always feel natural. Many of your clients probably come to you to talk about the fact that they do not like how they feel when alone. And you probably work with them on skills, interventions, and strategies that empower them to find peace with themselves so that they don’t struggle with those feelings.
Just because you are a mental health provider doesn’t mean that you are immune from some of these struggles. Spending time alone might not be your go-to activity when you find yourself with some extra time. But some evidence suggests that spending time alone and focusing on self-care can have long-term benefits for your well-being.
Being Alone Compared to Loneliness
These sound like the same thing, but they’re not. When we imagine someone eating at a restaurant alone or seeing a movie alone, we often imagine them as being lonely rather than alone. The reality is that an individual could be experiencing some much-needed self-care. Maybe they love enjoying a nice meal alone or seeing a movie without someone trying to talk them through it.
The fact is that being alone does not equate to loneliness. Sometimes, you can be in a room full of people and still feel lonely. Loneliness is more about the emotional connectedness you feel to those around you.
It is possible to feel emotionally connected to yourself so that when you are alone, you feel like you are with someone who cares about you and is there for you when you need them, just like a friend would be.
Why It’s So Important for Therapists to Find Time for Solitude
Mental and behavioral health providers spend so much time and energy giving emotional connectedness to others. They listen to the experiences of others day in and day out. While it is an incredible honor to be in a role like this, if you do not care for yourself properly, it can take a toll on you after a time. This is referred to as burnout.
You never want to lose motivation to continue offering great care to clients who need it, so you need to prioritize your self-care.
Self-care comes in many shapes and sizes, but with “Solitude Day” approaching on March 26th, it is important to highlight it as an opportunity.
Signs You May Need Time Alone:
- You are showing signs of provider burnout.
- You feel your motivation to engage with others declining both in and outside of work.
- You feel short-tempered/irritable.
- You feel overstimulated.
- You feel drained by social interactions.
It can be normal for someone who spends so much time with others to begin to experience these things, especially if they’re prone to enjoying solitude. So, it’s essential to prioritize it.
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How to Practice Solitude:
Rather than fill your time with additional connections to others, try spending the day connecting with yourself, and doing things you love.
Try New Things
Getting out on your own and trying new things can be a liberating experience that helps you feel more comfortable in your skin and used to being alone. Try getting a coffee on your own and reading a book or grabbing a bite to each at a table instead of the drive-thru.
Or Do What’s Familiar
If you’d rather feel more comfortable in solitude, try finding a spot to curl up and watch your favorite show or catch up on your favorite novels. There’s no shame in the familiar comfort as they can often be the most emotionally refueling.
As providers, you’re no stranger to the term mindfulness. It’s a pillar in the field. Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of the present while accepting your feelings, thoughts, sensations, and more. You could meditate, go for a nature walk, journal, or use a mindfulness app.
Utilize Tools That Free Up Your Time
It can be challenging to find time for yourself when the demanding aspects of your job start to take all of your available hours. This is why it is so important to utilize services and tools that help you get your administrative work done faster to focus more on clients and yourself. A great example of something that could help include managed billing services. This is when you hire someone to help you manage your revenue cycle, perfecting it start-to-finish so you can focus more heavily on your clients and yourself rather than on time-consuming tasks like billing.
To learn more about quality managed billing services that can free up your time, sign up for a 21-day free trial.