Ever since I was a little girl, I have hated my own company and being alone. Through my teenage years I would hate being home alone, or walking into town on my own, and I have never been very good at going to do anything alone. I would never sit in a cafe alone, or join a new activity. This has been a common theme throughout my entire life, and whilst I have achieved lots of things, being alone for any amount of time is something I still struggle with. As an adult I don’t like to stay in my house alone, and alone time at night frequently results in sleepless nights. During the days when my husband is working I fill my time with seeing friends, going to the gym and wandering around town etc.
Now, following my cancer diagnosis last year, it gave me lots of time! Being unable to work as much, not being able to go to the gym as much or fill my days with seeing friends and family. It was and still is one of the toughest parts of my diagnosis – alone time literally filled me with dread. Alone with my thoughts, feeling unwell and fatigued does not always lead to healthy mind activity!! What I learnt very quickly was that I was unable to fill all of my time as I wasn’t well enough to engage with filling my time.
So … I have had to learn to be some what ok with spending time by myself. I have established morning a little morning routine, which involves making a coffee, some light yoga and meditation. A huge thank you to the healthy penguin for giving me her e yoga book, which has really transformed my morning yoga practice.
In the summer it’s super easy, I sit in my back garden and breathe in the air. I always use a guided meditation or visualisation as at the moment I find being alone with my thoughts difficult. Headspace and YouTube are great for this. I walk my dog with my headphones plugged in to music/podcasts/audiobooks etc these are some of my most enjoyable alone times. I have recently discovered podcasts and they really have been amazing for me, from Simon Mayo’s confessions and the Mimibee magazine to Oprah’s soul conversations and the guilty feminist. All now have a place in my alone time and help me to embrace the time alone.
I spend much more time reading and journaling, where before I would mindlessly scroll through my phone on social media to pass the time of day. I have read some great books this past year and have rekindled my love for books and all things literature. Chemotherapy really affected my ability to concentrate for any length of time so I have also learned that I can enjoy a wide variety of genres too, perhaps some I wouldn’t have picked up to read before.
I have taken part in meditation days at the Brentwood Buddhist centre, this was a great place and experience where I could take the time to be alone, without actually being alone. I came out of the sessions so much calmer and peaceful with my thoughts.
One of the biggest positives to come out of trying to enjoy alone time and down time is the quality time I spend with my husband. I was so guilty of filing our days off with activities so we can have the best time together, when actually I have learned to love our time at home together and realised how powerful it is to spend the day in our beautiful home together, pottering around and enjoying each other’s company.
I think I will always be at the stage of embracing alone time rather than enjoying it, and as time goes on, I hope to embrace longer amounts of time alone.
Be kind to yourself