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Disha Haque

Dishin’ it with Disha: Spending time alone is beneficial, pie is good

My favorite meal is dessert. Technically, dessert is not a meal, but for the purpose of this article, consider it as significant to my daily diet as any hearty meal would be. Because of my affinity for dessert and most sweet treats, pie is obviously one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving holiday.

After spending the day after Thanksgiving in a post-feast, somewhat comatose state, I spent my evening eating pie in my family’s kitchen. My phone was dead, so I wasn’t watching Gilmore Girls like I usually would have been doing and was left alone with my thoughts while enjoying my slice of pumpkin pie. 

I had a number of musings and realizations while enjoying my slice of pie, like a potential solution to better my money-saving habits and a better workout schedule. During this eventful evening, I also realized how long it had been since I had truly been with myself since starting college.

Realizing the lack of time alone I have had recently made me think about the almost completely communal environment that on-campus college life provides and the impacts this adjustment has had on both me and my friends. Now that I am living in a shared dorm and using communal bathrooms, busy dining halls and shared laundry centers, most of the activities and necessities that were once solo missions back at home are now group activities instead.

Don’t get me wrong, being able to do everyday activities (sometimes at odd hours of the night) with my new friends has made for some of the best memories I’ve had on campus so far. But, I do sometimes find myself missing my quiet evenings at home reading before bed or listening to music in my room.

College has been a huge learning curve for me and so many of my peers, and part of that has been learning to listen to myself and understand when it may be time for some recharging time alone. I start to notice that it may be time to retreat back to my room when my jokes get a little too "unfunny" or when I find myself overthinking all of my interactions.

Spending time alone isn’t just an activity for social recluses. It potentially has significant benefits for the brain and can help reduce anxiety. 

Prioritizing time in solitude helps lessen the impact of the spotlight effect, a phenomenon in which people overestimate how much their flaws, accomplishments and activities are noticed by others. Spending time alone allows for a break in this, which could potentially reduce overall anxiety levels. 

Spending time with yourself also allows for time to practice mindfulness habits like taking deep breaths, taking a walk or eating a slice of pie, like me. Practicing mindfulness, which has grown in popularity since 2012, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, has benefits like increased empathy and sleep quality. 

Prioritizing alone time and practicing mindfulness is often difficult to do with the busy and fast-paced nature of college life, but spending time alone with personal thoughts and making time for hobbies is still important and can help minimize conflict with others and improve overall happiness. 

Spending time alone also allows for self-reflection. College is a time of big changes and growth, and it's hard to see these changes if time isn’t spent reflecting on them. 

Although the amount of alone time that is needed to live a happy life can be debated, it's still important to be aware of the benefits spending time alone offers, especially when it can be hard to come by on a college campus. 

Taking time to do small things alone, like enjoying a slice of pie or journaling about the day, could go a long way for mental health and could potentially lead to some interesting revelations.

Disha Hoque is a freshman studying journalism. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Disha know by tweeting her @dishahoque05

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