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RECENTLY, I was walking alone on a quiet, winding trail. The path was hard to follow and slick with snow. The sun felt warm on my face. As I trudged uphill, I missed my partner, but felt grateful to be visiting my sister who I don’t see often.

I was on my own for a couple of hours that day. During that time, I felt wide-ranging emotions, including curiosity, anxiety and joy. It was a welcome period of solitude and I returned to civilisation feeling calmer and more clear-headed than when I had set out.

Think about the last time you were alone. Maybe you were commuting to work or had woken up before the rest of your household. Perhaps you live alone. Did you revel in that period of solitude, long to connect with another person or let it pass by without much thought?


Solitude is inevitable. Adults in the UK and US spend around one-third of their waking lives alone and that increases as we get older. In many places, we live alone in greater proportions than ever before. A recent survey of 75 countries shows that 17 of them have more than 25 per cent solo households.

As social creatures, research has historically pointed us away from time alone. But recently, more people are spending time away from the crowd, and even seem to crave it. Now, we have evidence as to why alone time can feel so good and may in fact be vital to your health and well-being. Moreover, we have…

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