We are always connected, thanks to our smartphones. Whether it's actually chatting with friends or scrolling through Twitter, we have found a way to constantly be around other people... even when we are physically alone. It seems this has caused many people to fear being alone with their thoughts. One study found that a quarter of women and two thirds of men prefer giving themselves an electric shock rather than sit silently with their own thoughts.
Belle Beth Cooper recently wrote an article on Quartz, arguing that humans need to embrace their alone time. She even cites people like Steve Wozniak and Ernest Hemingway, who said solitude was integral to their work.
Cooper provides several reasons why everyone should value their alone time, with science to back her up. First, solitude is needed to develop skills, since practice is a solitary activity. Solitude also provides a break from self-consciousness and gives your brain a break from worrying about what others might think. Thirdly, studies have shown that brainstorming is actually done best when you're alone. The last and maybe the most important reason Cooper provides is self transformation. You can't possibly figure out who you are and who you want to be if you are always around the influence of other people.
Alone time can be hard to come by for those with busy work lives and large families, and solitude isn't very desired amongst extroverts. If that sounds like you, try it in baby steps. Go for a short walk, take a long bath, or just sit alone with a notebook and see what you end up writing down.