Parents of young children may look at this title and laugh. When can they enjoy periods of solitude and quiet while seeing to the needs of a hectic family life? There are meals to prepare, homework to oversee, soccer and basketball practices, the next PTA meeting and … more. 

Add to the mix phone calls, tweets, texts and e-mail messages to answer, and that doesn’t count time spent catching up on social media sites. The New York Times recently stated, “We’re heading toward a time when portable phones, pagers, and data transmission devices of every sort will keep us terminally in touch.” 1 In other words, we’re losing the option to get away from it all. Work, family, and responsibility dog us wherever we go. 

Something has to change. Scientists and Social Scientists agree that humans long for both strong interactions with others and a healthy dose of alone time. Joshua Becker, in his article Solitude: Where Your Life is Waiting, speaks of freeing ourselves from the constant bombardment of information from others wanting to influence or inform us. Becker is quick to remind us that being alone is not the same as loneliness. Rather it is a choice we make to experience life for a set amount of time without interaction. It is a gift to ourselves. 

Some of the benefits of being alone include the following: 

  • Freedom from social constraints. Time to please only yourself. 
  • Time alone facilitates creativity. Writing or drawing may enhance the quiet experience. 
  • Being alone can enhance the desire to spend time with loved ones, strengthening bonds. 
  • Time alone enhances the desire for spirituality. In quiet we’re more able to seek wisdom, guidance and engagement with a higher power. 
  • Quiet times can lead to self-renewal, a serenity and freedom from stressors. 
  • Research shows that people who spend time in quiet are more able to problem solve, get along with others and are freer from depression. 
  • Alone time increases the ability to focus and concentrate. 
  • Those who engage in quiet times enjoy more self-acceptance. 

Getting quiet in a noisy world can take both discipline and practice. Parents with busy family lives may need to capture just five or ten minute blocks of time to sit quietly, enjoy the out of doors, listen to music, pray or meditate, or do absolutely nothing. You may find that doing nothing for five minutes is a difficult task. We’re not used to it. 

Dr. Eric Julian Manalastas of the University of the Philippines gives his students an interesting assignment. They are to plan a three hour date with themselves, spending that time alone. It is possible to “be alone” in the midst of a crowd, granting yourself the freedom not to interact with others. Students who completed this assignment gained an increased appreciation for solitude. They reported a variety of positive experiences, meals alone, walks in beautiful, natural settings, quiet reading in a library, all related to relaxation, serenity, an inner joy and sense of well-being. 

A recent Psychology Today review of Ester Buchholz’s 1998 book, The Call of Solitude, quotes the author,  

“Now, more than ever, we need our solitude. Being alone gives us the power to regulate and adjust our lives. It can teach us fortitude and the ability to satisfy our own needs. A restorer of energy, the stillness of alone experiences provides us with much-needed rest. It brings forth our longing to explore, our curiosity about the unknown, our will to be an individual, our hopes for freedom. Alonetime is fuel for life.”2 

Now that you’re convinced of the benefits of quiet and alone time for your physical and mental health, what can you do to capture it in your daily life? Here are a few suggestions. You may need to collaborate with your spouse or a friend to accomplish the task, but you’ll be glad you made the effort. List the types of alone time you long for. Some of them may be: 

Walks, hikes, or time to sit and contemplate in a beautiful, natural setting 

Reading time 

Time to journal, pray, meditate, think. 

Time to be alone in a public setting such as a restaurant, library, museum, movie theater, book store. 

Time to exercise, stretch, move. 

Time to take a drive, browse through antique stores, attend a concert. 

A space of time devoid of any expectation—no agenda. 

We may live in the noisiest, most demanding time of all history. It will take a conscious choice to still busy minds and bodies, but ultimately the rewards will outweigh the effort it takes to “return to self.” 

Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and freelance writer specializing in parenting and family life issues. You can find her at 

When We Embrace Solitude: 

We intentionally remove the influence of others for a period of time. 

We intentionally remove the expectations of others. 

We are able to hear our own heart speak. 

We find rest and refreshment. 

We can adequately reflect on our past and chart our future. 

We break the cycle of busyness in our lives. 

We become better equipped to show patience to others. 

We feed our souls. 

From Solitude: Where Your Life is Waiting by Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist, 12/29/14. 

“Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of your own presence rather than the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement.” Alice Koller, author of The Stations of Solitude 

“True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” William Penn 


Becker, Joshua, Solitude: Where Your Life is Waiting,, 12/2014. 

Bratskeir, Kate, The One Thing You’re Not Doing That Will Completely Boost Your Focus, Huffington Post, 12/2014. 

Buchholz, Ester, Ph.D., The Call of Solitude, Psychology Today excerpts, January, 2012. 

Cloves, Susanne, The Benefits of Quiet for Body, Mind and Spirit,, October, 2012. 

Manalastas, Eric Julian, A Date with Self, Study done at University of the Philippines, 2010. 

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