I saw some data recently that really struck me.
Here is the post to the original information so you can go take a look at it as well.
What this article pulls together is who we spend time with over the course of our lives.
Early in life, we (understandably) spend more time with our family.
But after the age of 18, that time drastically decreases.
We spend time with our friends, when we’re younger, but as we age that decreases as well.
We tend to spend a lot of time with our partners around middle age, but even for a life long relationship (which lots of people don’t experience), for one person that will end at some point.
We spend the most amount of time with our coworkers, but that doesn’t start until our career does, and then declines drastically when we leave our career.
But you know which relationship was the most important one? The one who we spend the most time with?
Our relationship with ourselves is the most important relationship we will have in our lives.
Which is kind of obvious, but also kind of lonely?
But the key thing to think about here is that as we age, we tend to spend more and more time alone. We tend to spend less time with our parents, less time with our kids as they grow and leave the house, less time with friends (although the quality of friends remains incredibly important).
But we never don’t spend time with ourselves.
And this information, presented in this way, was really interesting to me.
How is your relationship with yourself?
Many of us don’t have a great one. We don’t really like spending time alone.
Especially when our main priority – whether it’s at home with children or parents, or at work, or with our friend group – is taking care of others.
The concept of spending time alone might be FEEL like a distant dream.
If you’re like me, still in the throes of taking care of everyone else – kids, family, friends, work – it might actually feel like a dream to spend some time by yourself.
But the reality of this truth is actually very different.
What happens when you spend time by yourself right now?
Do you distract yourself with your to-do list? Do you pour yourself into extra work? Do you do something else to distract you?
Exactly how comfortable are you being with yourself?
Downsides to Spending too Much Time Alone
Before I harp on and on about carving out more alone time, I do want to stress that humans are social animals. I’m not advising you to go into the woods and live by yourself.
We actually need people around us.
We need a support system, we need help, we need company.
In fact, loneliness is incredibly dangerous. Did you know that loneliness can impact your health even more so than smoking or alcohol?
And what is important is the QUALITY of the relationships you have in your life, not the quantity.
Where to focus on your relationships with others?
- Invest in the great relationships in your life.
- Spend time with the people that you love. And prioritize it! (As much as you can.)
- Bring the quality to the relationships, not the quantity
- It’s OK to outgrow relationships and move on.
Invest in the Relationship You Have With Yourself
This seems like such an obvious thing, but how does one go about this?
Take care of your body & mind
Remember how I just said that the quality of relationships is key? Well, this is true as well for the quality of relationship with yourself.
And you can’t be the best version of yourself if you’re not taking care of yourself.
Our physical health and mental health are so intertwined, that I would say they’re one and the same. Making sure that you’re feeling your best, both physically and mentally, should be a priority in your day, as much as it can be.
What else can you do?
- Prioritize sleep! Make sure you’re getting good quality sleep as often as possible. There are always extraneous circumstances, but if the norm if a good night’s sleep, it’s going to go along way.
- Eat food that fuels you. You want to eat food that energizes you, makes you feel good, and doesn’t cause crazy cravings or crashes. A really great place to start to figure out what this looks like, for you, is actually paying attention to your digestion. Do you feel bloated and uncomfortable most of the time, or on a regular basis? Do you feel nauseous regularly? Are you gaining weight/losing weight? You want to eat food that satisfies you, and makes your body feel healthy and strong.
And yes, that can include treats!
- Move. Every day. Walk, run, stretch, workout, cycle. Whatever that looks like for you. Find something that you enjoy doing.
- Address the stress. Find an activity, a hobby, an outlet that really makes you feel like your stress has been lowered. An activity that energizes you, makes you feel energized, and makes you feel taken care of.
I’m including mindfulness as a separate concept for two reasons.
First of all, mindfulness is a necessity when it comes to addressing stress. Incorporating a daily meditation or mindfulness breathing practice is an incredible tool to help your body respond well to stress, and be more resilient when it comes to stress.
But, secondly, practicing mindfulness is a really great way to practice being with ourselves. It forces us to sit alone with who we are as a person. To watch the thoughts that run through our head, to learn to push those aside. To understand our inner feelings and desires and what makes us who we are.
To really strengthen the relationship you have with yourself, practice mindfulness every day. There are lots of resources about mindfulness, but if you’re not sure where to start, I have a blog post here and a YouTube video here.