How Being Alone Breeds Better Health

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Our society is dependent; dependent upon that grocer who stocks our food, the mailman who delivers our packages and most importantly, the people we surround ourselves with day-to-day.

Because we rely on those around us so highly, we often find the simple idea of being alone, independent and solitary to be scary; we wouldn’t be able to do, say, perform or think quite as well when alone because we “need” to be around each other to function. Right?

This line of thought (paranoia) has bled into our personal lives, contributing to emotional dependency, co-dependency in relationships and a general inability to spend even a few hours on our own.

There’s one group, however, that’s going against this mold and is largely better for it: the beach society.

Not to say that frequent beachgoers are magically independent; it’s the activities that make up the inherent daily routine which allow this freedom.

Walking barefoot down the beach at sunrise; spending countless lone hours floating on a board in anticipation of that next great wave; drifting toward the shoreline after a fishing day on the Catalina.

It’s organic.

Quite a few studies have been conducted on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of alone time. Here are the most important findings:

Those who are comfortable spending time alone tend to be more comfortable with who they are as people, as well as more confident.

The benefit: More successful relationships. Appreciating who you are is the first step to appreciating others for who they are.

Time in a solitary space eliminates distractions.

The benefit: Increased efficiency, productivity and concentration. For instance, while the idea of a study group or a working dinner is appealing, most people report getting less work done due to the social interactions and obligations necessary within these contexts.

Solitude equals a lack of outside influences.

The benefit: If an opinion is developed solely within a group context, devoid of any personal time for reflection, it’s likely that opinion has been skewed to mirror the viewpoints within that group. Listening to the thoughts of others, going home and spending time alone to contemplate matters ensures a more honest, personal take.

We only get the full picture when we’re solo.

The benefit: It’s only when we’re alone that we’re able to delve into the parts of our brains that provide unique perspective and creativity. Thoughts born from conversations, for example, typically only become of consequence after the fact, when they’ve been ruminated over and developed in a solitary setting.

Introverts, or people who tend to spend more time alone, are better for it.

The benefit: Love them or hate them, introverts reap the rewards of their desire to spend an abundance of time on their own. They’re considered deeper thinkers, creative and more content with their lives and selves.

It’s also been suggested that time spent alone allows adolescents to better process their thoughts and developing personalities, leading to less depression as a whole.

All of these facts beg the question of why we avoid an activity that’s so beneficial.

There are social factors: being seen as a “loner” or perhaps missing out on quality time with friends and family.

But what might be more damaging is that most people who dislike being alone, or are genuinely fearful of being solitary, are missing something important: being “lonely” and being “alone” are not the same.

Doing something you love to do on your own means appreciating the joy you glean from that activity and how it serves you - not how it serves others. There’s a time and a place for both group outings and lone activities; the beach lifestyle means a naturally-occurring opportunity for both.

It means a progression of daily activities that create the perfect balance of each, at a time when everything (and everyone) is unbalanced.

So grab a board and paddle out; see how you feel after a few minutes.

You might just find that it’s not so scary after all.

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Stephan Aarstol is an American internet entrepreneur and author of the book The Five Hour Workday, which is based on Tower Paddle Boards' invention of the 5-hour workday in 2015 that would eventually spread the idea to over 10 million people worldwide. Since founding Tower in 2010, it has gone on to become one of America's fastest growing companies and Mark Cuban's best investment in the history of Shark Tank. Tower has diversified into a direct to consumer electric bike company called Tower Electric Bikes, a beachfront event venue called Tower Beach Club, and, where consumers can shop all the world's finest direct to consumer brands from one easy place.