Under the Kilt: The importance of alone time

Andrew Golden/HIGHLANDER
Andrew Golden/HIGHLANDER

Let me state the obvious: It’s a new year and it’s time to do things differently. The onslaught of ads for gyms, diet plans and inspirational quotes has officially began to infiltrate our lives, but fear not. We’ve ignored them before and we can ignore them again. However, if you’re like me and want to stand in the blaring inferno that is “Do this life-changing thing,” then look no further.

Relationship goals! (Imagine all those silly memes and Instagram photos here).

Relationships are many different things for many different people but what they should never be is bothersome or harmful to those involved. Plain and simple. Life is busy and adding a relationship to the mix of school, work and social activities is a challenge, but one that can be done. Is it easy? At times it isn’t, but that shouldn’t make you quit. (It’s a new year guys and gals, no quitting just yet).

Over the years, I’ve found one thing to be crucial to the relationship-success algorithm: alone time. No, I don’t mean vanishing for days on end to discover yourself a la Don Draper. I mean taking a few minutes out of your busy day to breathe, collect your thoughts or hey, even check those relationship goals Instagram posts. (#blessed)

Let me use myself as an example: I’m married, work full-time and attend UCR full-time. I’m able to do all of this because I have a Time-Turner. Okay, I really don’t but I am loaded on caffeine most days. Usually when I get home from work or class, I have a few minutes to myself before I start on various tasks. Something my wife and I have established over the years is doing just that; taking at least 10 minutes to ourselves when we get home. It doesn’t matter the hour or how busy we are, we make the time to decompress, goof around on our phones or watch a little TV before diving into our home life. Yes, we always greet each other with a kiss but right after, we kick into personal time mode.

Am I an expert at relationships? No, but I’ve been in one for long enough to know what works well and what doesn’t and taking time for yourself is something that does work. For us, it’s aided in building a stronger relationship; it’s also helped in de-escalating conflict. One or both of us may have had a bad day and taking that time to ourselves once we get home helps sort out unpleasant thoughts and allows us to calm down before talking about our day.

Another thing that’s helped me use my alone time to its full potential is meditation. Don’t let that word scare you; I’ll say it again, meditation. For me, meditation has allowed me to enjoy the space I’m in, even if it’s noisy or chaotic, and helps me regroup and escape the many thoughts floating around me. I’ve never seen it as something too challenging either, though having a guide, at least for the first couple of times, feels more stable than deep breathing with an ambient soundtrack. I’ve used everything from Andrew Johnson’s guides on Spotify to the Headspace app on my iPhone. Noizio is another app I use on the days I don’t want a guide and want various ambient sounds to take me away; it’s also great to fall asleep to.

Just don’t fall asleep while reading this article. It’s rude.

Another helpful tip is talking out your planned alone time with your partner; that way you both know what’s going on. There are no real rules, at least none that I know of, to how your set alone time. It should come down to what works best for you and how you want to utilize it.
But hey, don’t listen to me, just give it a try; it is a new year after all.

Happy 2016 Highlanders; let’s make it a good one.

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