Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Alone time has benefits

Samantha Ratner

UT is in the center of one of the country’s fastest-growing cities. Surrounded by hundreds of things to do — whether it’s connecting with others in organizations, exploring the city or staying on track for classes —  it can be difficult to take a break and spend time with yourself. But prioritizing alone time is extremely important to both mental health and self-development. 

College life can become very overwhelming for many students. Keeping up with academic commitments while simultaneously maintaining extensive networks of friends, activities and events is hard. 

Kirsten Padilla, an English senior, president of Minority Women Pursuing Law (MWPL) and member of Texas Darlins, commented on the balance between work and social life at UT. 

“I do definitely think it can be tiring to be on all the time,” Padilla said. “Being around a lot of people and having a lot of conversation can be something that can be exhausting.”

Constantly interacting with others can be tiring, so alone time is valuable. The benefits involved include improved sleep quality and productivity, reduced stress and better emotional regulation.

Spending time with yourself can be as simple as doing what you enjoy, like watching a favorite show or cooking a comfort meal. 

James Butler, mindfulness campus coordinator in the Longhorn Wellness Program, explained how students can work alone time into busy schedules. 

“Usually, the most successful times are first thing in the morning when students wake up or when they’re getting ready for bed,” Butler said. “Whether it’s meditating or journaling, or listening to music or practicing art.”

The simplest method to prioritize this time alone is to fit it into your schedule in short, manageable sections. Even if it’s just for a few moments, these helpful habits can add up over time in moments of high stress or anxiety. 

“The biggest thing that I try to stress to students is adopting this daily practice,” Butler said. “That will help when times get tough, when midterms come up, those regular times during the semester that just tend to have a little bit more stress or a little bit more high stakes. If you have that daily practice that you start at the beginning of the semester, then you’ll build it into your brain as a habit.” 

Of course, spending time alone isn’t the only way to productively fill the free space between scheduled activities. Socializing with peers still allows you to lean on others and build a support system.  

“Being around hyper social situations also brings me a lot of joy because I value others, and I like having people that I can talk to and lean on,” Kirsten said. 

Socializing and spending time alone may sound like opposites, but making room for both is instrumental to living a balanced life. Downtime and a bit of solitude can help students reap the benefits of social interactions, allowing them to be more present and reduce stress so they can truly enjoy time with others.   

Narwekar is a philosophy and economics sophomore from Coppell, Texas.

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