This Is The Main Difference Between Being Alone And Being Lonely

31 January 2017, 20:56 | Updated: 8 May 2017, 17:09

Woman looking at something out of frameacc
Nicky Idika

By Nicky Idika

It's actually not the same thing.

Is there a difference between being alone and being "lonely"? Of course, there is. But it's easy to see how these two similar-ish things might be looked at as the same. While loneliness can be hard to overcome, isolating, and intensely emotional, the act of "being alone" can actually be a positive form of self-care. 

If you're an introvert, you've probably experienced that intense pull to get up and leave a room of people to go be by yourself. Many introverts report feeling the need to "recharge" after social interactions because, let's face it, people can be exhausting.  

Young woman looking at tablet

via iStock

What are the benefits of making time to be alone? 

Recharge
People are tiresome. Life is stressful. Everyone wants something all the time. When you get a chance to be alone, make sure to unplug, unwind, and do something that often brings you joy. 

Focus
Escape the chaos of the world, get home, and create space for yourself to really think. Whether you're thinking about the cure to cancer or about season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, being alone helps push out all the mental clutter. 

De-stress 
Sometimes it's difficult to see how wound up you are until you get a moment alone. Take good care of yourself by engaging in solitary activities that you find relaxing, mood-lifting, and essential to your mental wellbeing. Things like reading, journaling, exercise, TV and music are great "alone time" activities.  

via tumblr

Why do some people like being alone more than others? 

Everyone is different. What one person may find fun and exciting, another person could see as anxiety-inducing and strange. Some people are natural introverts who are conditioned that way by brain chemistry and upbringing. Other people wouldn't consider themselves introverts, but see the value that being alone for short stretches of time can offer. 

How is loneliness different to being alone?

Loneliness is that creeping feeling of isolation that is brought on by the belief that you don't have a strong enough emotional or physical support network. You can experience loneliness even when you're surrounded by family and friends. You don't necessarily have to be alone to feel loneliness. 

It's normal to feel lonely sometimes. It's normal to feel like you're losing people or that you're not connecting with your friends and family in the same way. Loneliness is definitely a part of life, but we should never accept an incessant and unshakable feeling of sadness and yearning as a normal emotional sate to exist in. 

Person looks out onto the horizon

via iStock

There is a huge difference between being alone and being lonely. Most times, sitting down with a book and a cup of tea in total silence is the perfect way to counteract all the stresses of life.

Unfortunately, loneliness is not quite as innocent or as helpful. If you're feeling lonely, isolated, or like there is no one who cares about you, reach out and let someone in your life know how you feel. Write a letter to an old friend. Challenge yourself to meet one new person every day. 

Everything in life is about perspective. We can learn to love and value being alone, and fight the insecurity that comes with being lonely.