Solo: Making the Most of My Alone Time

Today’s prompt for #JusJoJan is “solo”. It has many meanings, but the overarching one is “alone”. For this reason, I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to write about ways to make the most out of my alone time.

You see, I don’t really do well with alone time. It makes me anxious. At the same time, I need alone time. It helps me recharge. How can these two coexist, you might wonder. Honestly, I’m not quite sure.

However, the more important question is, how can I make sure the recharging effect gets the upper hand rather than my anxiety? The key to this is making the most out of my time alone.

In my old day schedule, I had random slots of alone time that could last anywhere between 15 and 60 minutes, sometimes longer if I didn’t come out of my room to alert the staff. This caused intense anxiety, because I never knew when I’d have time alone and, when I did, how long it’d last. This meant I didn’t know what activities to do during my alone time.

Now though, I usually have time slots of 30 to occasionally 45 minutes alone. In all honesty, I think the 30-minute time slots could be lengthened to 45 minutes if they could be decreased in number and by extension my time slots of activity lengthened too. This isn’t likely possible at my current care home though.

During the time of my old day schedule, I used to feel stressed when alone and as a result use up the time by wandering around my apartment. Now I occasionally still do this, but I try to put each moment of alone time to good use. For example, Bible study and blogging are things I can’t do when a staff person is in the room. I do these when I have alone time, but sometimes I struggle to finish them off during my 30-minute solo time slots. At the same time, I struggle to find meaningful activities that I can do within my 60-minute time slots (which are usually cut short) of one-to-one support. Part of the reason is my need to get into a routine – for example, of gathering my polymer clay supplies. Part of it is the fact that some staff start out by proposing a certain activity, which makes it hard for me to switch to wanting something else. And part of it is probably my mindset too, in that I get overwhelmed with not knowing how long an activity will take and thinking I “only” have this amount of time. This applies to alone time too.

I often say that, in an ideal world, I’d have one-on-one all the time. This isn’t true. In an ideal world, I’d have good chunks of alone time with staff only popping in once every 45 minutes (because otherwise I’d lose track of time), so essentially no extra care then, during later evenings and part of the weekend. I’d also have good chunks of supported activity during the day. Oh wait, that’s pretty much how I had it in Raalte and I was going to let go of comparisons with old homes. No, wait again, my day schedule back there wasn’t ideal either. But it allowed for longer chunks of activity time during weekdays and that’s really what I dream of.

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