Older generations like to poke fun at millennials for how they stare at screens rather than have conversations face to face. But, ironically, much of that screen-staring time is spent connecting with other people. Millennials chat on social media apps and make plans over texts. Facebook (and Myspace before it) even counts the number of friends you have and pressures you to keep that friend-count high so you don't look like a loser.
But, in this hyper-connected internet age, it's especially important to take time for yourself once in a while - here are six reasons why:
1. Extended anxiety relief
Too many stimuli aren't good for your mental health. When you spend all your time doing things and no time thinking about the things you've done, your brain gets overloaded with all these raw emotions and experiences, producing anxiety.
Alone time gives you the space you need to process everything that's happened to you, which, in turn, relieves anxiety.
Simplifying your life helps here as well. Maybe some of your priorities aren't all that important. Harvard research shows we spend 47 percent of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we're actually doing. This increases anxiety. Creating time for yourself can help you focus more fully on the present, reducing this anxiety.
2. Improved physical health
In addition to improving your mental health, alone time gives your physical health a little boost as well.
Everyone knows they need to exercise regularly to stay healthy - but when you're always at work/school hanging out with friends/family, it can be hard to find the time to work out. Getting rid of these distractions for a while allows you to get stronger, increase your stamina and tack on a few more years to your life.
3. Maximized productivity
Again, social activities do have significant value, but they're also distractions. Isolating yourself allows you to focus on work or school projects due soon. You can also use alone time to explore potential hobbies and develop new interests.
You will be more productive when you can concentrate better. Try removing some of your daily distractions like compulsively checking your email. Turn Facebook notifications off. You will get more done in less time, a huge factor in finding time for yourself.
4. Magnified gratitude
As John Lennon once famously wrote, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
We spend so much time thinking of our long-term goals - working toward that next promotion, finding ways to save up enough money to eventually buy a house, etc. - that we forget about all the little things we have right now.
The smell of a bag of coffee freshly opened, the taste of that coffee after it's brewed, the banal beauty of a sunny summer day ... these things are easy to miss when you've dedicated your thoughts to other matters.
Taking some time for yourself allows you to slow things down and focus on the present moment, allowing you to appreciate all the small details that make life rich.
5. Increased happiness
Downtime allows you to reflect on what is going on in your life, increasing your happiness.
Your morning can make or break your day. Try setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier each day and spend that time praying or doing yoga. This sets the tone for the rest of your day and increases your happiness and satisfaction of day-to-day life.
We often focus on getting everything done, which leaves us feeling stressed, depressed and exhausted. Also take time to read, watch a favorite TV show or do whatever other favorite activity fills your cup. The best way to do this is to schedule regular "me time."
Spending time alone isn't selfish. Everyone needs time to themselves.
6. Strengthened focus
When all day we run at full speed like an ambulance driver, we lose touch with our surroundings. It's amazing how taking time for yourself provides more clarity. It will help you prioritize and give you an energy boost for your sometimes daunting schedule.
Remember, our perceptions are often flexible; they are a lump sum of our experiences. When you take a regular break, you can clear your mind and have a clearer perception of reality, becoming more focused.
Benjamin is a passionate dentist with a strong desire to see his patients happy, healthy and confident. He owns Kirkland Family Dentistry, a high end, yet affordable, dental practice. He loves spending time with friends and family.