Humans are social creatures. Growing up, you probably never wanted to sit alone in the lunchroom or go to the school dance without a date. However, going solo, living alone, and being independent doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. Spending time alone has been shown to offer benefits like boosted creativity, greater empathy, and better productivity. If you’re thinking about spending more time with yourself, here are eight reasons why being comfortable in your own company is both possible and a good idea:

    1) It allows you to focus on self-help.

    There is a major difference between loneliness and being alone, which is described perfectly on Thought Catalogue: “Loneliness is the isolation that comes with nursing a feeling unreturned—an expectation unmet. Aloneness is different. Aloneness is finding freedom in this very same isolation; it’s the strange state of bliss that comes with being truly, honestly, unapologetically content in your own company.” Aloneness is seeing the benefits of sometimes being away from others and becoming comfortable with yourself.

    If you’re feeling lonely like 72% of Americans, it probably has nothing to do with whether you’re around people constantly or by yourself. Consider talking to a therapist to determine why you feel lonely. Knowing where your loneliness stems from, or if it’s tied to depression, makes it easier to combat so you can feel comfortable in your own skin—especially while you’re alone.

    2) You can attend to your interests.

    Being alone and listening to what you want and need can be extremely beneficial. You won’t have external pressures forcing you to go out or stay in. You’ll get to ask yourself what you want and need at every minute, and that in itself can be enlightening and gratifying. You could take up a new hobby, get a gym membership, or catch up on reading—ask yourself what you really want and go after it.

    3) It might make you more outgoing when you do partake in social activities.

    Researchers have found that people who live alone tend to be more social. If you live alone, this added benefit won’t only be great for the strength of your relationships but also your ability to fight loneliness—which stems from feeling a lack of intimacy with other people. One hypothesis surrounding this is that by giving yourself more time to recharge, you can give more to other people without feeling exhausted.

    4) It can provide you with a sense of empowerment.

    If you’re living without human companionship, you don’t need to feel isolated or scared—instead, let your newfound independence empower you. Learn about a few steps to stay safe when you’re alone to help you relax and embrace your new freedom. For example, consider installing a video doorbell or even bringing a furry friend home for protection and company. In fact, research suggests that dog owners tend to live longer—so maybe alone doesn’t have to be so alone. The point here is that you don’t have to sacrifice feeling safe in your home to live alone; instead, you can feel safe and empowered.

    5) It boosts creativity.

    Thoreau took to the woods; Dickens took walks alone. Some might argue that being alone is essential to creativity, allowing your brain to ignore the external and focus inward. When you’re alone, your mind is able to wander, calm itself, and get in touch with your wants and needs. If you’re not sure you believe this, think about the last time you were on deadline in a loud office and couldn’t get a single thing done. Were you having a mental block? Try some solitude next time to avoid a block and tap into your creativity.

    6) It is necessary to your wellbeing.

    Depending on whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, alone time might be as necessary for your well-being as breathing, drinking water, and sleeping. Why? Introverts regain their energy from spending time alone, while extroverts feed off the energy of others. As an introvert, people get mentally and physically exhausted from being around people all the time, so it’s important to get that alone time to recover.

    7) It can help you cut back on negativity.

    Sometimes you don’t want to live in someone else’s mess—or you don’t want someone else to nag you about yours. When you live alone, go out to eat alone, or spend time with yourself, you’re in control of everything you do. There won’t be anyone judging you, telling you what to do, or getting on your nerves. Less negativity leads to more positivity, which enhances mood and general disposition. It’s hard to get on your own nerves, so try spending some time alone and see how you feel.

    8) It increases productivity.

    Want to get something done? Do it yourself—literally. Whether you’re shopping, working, or trying to binge-watch a show, you’ll be more productive and efficient when no one else is around to bug you. Or based on what researchers in Calgary found, you won’t be distracted by watching how someone else completes a task, so you will be more productive.

Being comfortable in your own skin and with yourself might help you become more successful. Alone time allows you to be more creative, productive, focused on your wants and needs, and energetic. And while the word “alone” may seem negative, you can change the way you look at spending time alone, helping you avoid loneliness and benefit from the internal focus. Take yourself on a date, move into that single bedroom apartment, and don’t be afraid to spend quality time with yourself! It may change your life for the better.

Article by Sage Singleton