Ever felt like hiding away? Maybe after a stressful day or when you’re feeling embarrassed? Everyone’s felt that way before. Sometimes, it’s a sign that you need just that: an escape. And sometimes, it means it’s time to reach out for support.
Both solitude and social support are important to your wellness, so it helps to know what you need when all you want is to retreat. Ultimately, you’re the only expert in you. Pay attention to your intuition and respect your needs. When you don’t have a clear sense of what you need, these tips can help:
10 signs you need some time to yourself:
- Feeling pulled in too many directions.
- Small social interactions make you feel exhausted when they normally don’t.
- You’re so caught up in other people’s lives that you haven’t taken care of yourself.
- You’re suddenly forgetting things, canceling plans, and showing up late.
- Confusion about what you want in life.
- Feeling annoyed or resentful for things that don’t make sense to you.
- Filling your time with activities to avoid being alone. (Surprising but true!)
- You’re constantly rushed or stressed.
- You don’t feel like yourself.
If alone time is what you need, begin here:
Ease into it with small periods of time every day or week to do something by yourself. Try building it into your existing morning, lunch, or bedtime routine.
Let other people know what you’re up to if this will be a big change. You don’t want anyone to be alarmed by a sudden change in your behavior.
Keep a “me time” wish-list. Include solo adventures, new skills, movies, music, or books.
Remember that recharging is productive! Alone time can be great for getting things done, but don’t forget about doing things you enjoy.
Explore what makes you, you. Ask yourself what you want at this stage of your life or how your actions today will serve you tomorrow. You might also invest in a guided journal or keep a list of journal prompts you like.
12 signs it’s time to reach out (rather than retreat):
- Feeling depressed, hopeless, or helpless.
- Feeling panicked or obsessed about a situation in your life.
- Feeling increasingly disconnected from the people in your life.
- Dissatisfaction with solitary time but afraid or reluctant to reach out.
- Difficulty getting out of bed.
- Exhaustion even after getting a good night’s sleep or taking a break.
- Difficulty focusing even when you have all the right conditions.
- Loss of motivation, interest, or pleasure in the things you normally care about.
- Changes in your normal sleeping and eating patterns.
- Mood swings.
- Feeling paralyzed by responsibilities or obligations.
- Having thoughts of hurting yourself or being better off dead. (Are you in crisis? View these resources.)
If social support is what you need, begin here:
Nurture the relationships you already have. Emotions like loneliness, sadness, or anxiety can make us hide out, potentially creating further isolation and painful feelings. Break the cycle by finding small ways to keep in touch with important people. Even a text can go a long way.
Use social media as a tool for connection. Go deeper than swiping and scrolling. Leave a thoughtful comment or send a message to someone you care about.
If you don’t have anyone to contact, get on a forum or online group of like-minded people and leave comments.
If a busy schedule keeps you disconnected from friends, schedule time each week to connect in a way that feels authentic to you.
Volunteer to build social connections while doing something meaningful. Having a task to focus on is also a helpful bonus if you experience shyness or social anxiety. During your volunteer time, ask the others what interests them in that organization or what other volunteer activities they enjoy.
Give new relationships time to grow organically rather than putting pressure on them to grow into a fast friendship.
If you tend to dwell on problems, redirect that mental energy toward a personal kindness project. Make a list of nice things you could do for friends or strangers to get your creative wheels turning. Then, try to do one every day or so. Think simple with this: hold the door open, slip a positive note into a library book, or make eye contact with passersby. Be sure to notice the ways others are kind as well!
Ask for help when you need it. We all need help sometimes, but that doesn’t make it easy. Try to reframe asking for help as a sign that you’re willing to make things better. Go to the people you’re comfortable with or ask a counselor or advisor for feedback. Before reaching out, it can be helpful to ask yourself what you need. Do you need someone to listen? Or do you need concrete guidance? Knowing these answers can help you communicate your needs more clearly.