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The Benefits of Isolation and Daydreaming for the Modern Hermit

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Table of Contents

  • Room for Creativity
  • Intense Focus
  • Meditation and Work Retreat
  • Addiction Recovery
  • Conclusion

In ancient times, voluntary isolation from urban or social life was seen as a path to happiness. In the Christian faith, there are well-known hermits like St. Jerome and St. Antony. St. Jerome started writing during his sequester in the desert and is credited with translating the Bible to Latin. Not all hermits in ancient times were turning their backs on society for religious reasons. Some did it to stress a point about the dysfunctional nature of man’s social life. In ancient China, hermits used isolation to make a political statement. They also helped preserve and advance ideas for future generations. In modern times, we are faced with many physical and mental health challenges. From addiction, overdose deaths, to the prevalence of depression and anxiety, among other issues. We need to look at the impact of isolation and how it can be beneficial in improving our quality of life.

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Room for Creativity

Nowadays people choose to sequester themselves from the hustles of modern living. For some people, this means living a minimalist life. Modern hermits choose to avoid the distraction of portable devices, clutter that comes with modern living and reduce their carbon footprint. If you spend a lot of time on the internet playing with Social Media and apps, you may wonder what you’ll be doing with all your free time. Especially, given that you will be isolated from both physical and virtual contact with friends and loved ones. But the extra time gives a lot of room for creativity.

According to Gregory Feist from San Jones State University, there are two elements that make people creative; originality and usefulness. Originality implies the ability to come up with new ideas. Usefulness shows the capacity to apply the ideas in day-to-day challenges.

According to this study, one of the characteristics of creative people is a lack of concern for social norms and socializing in general. Healthy social withdrawal means that hermits retain contact with people from time to time. But they do not heavily rely on it for their happiness.

Intense Focus

Social withdrawal gives room to focus on a task more intensely than when people are around. This is despite the popular notion that individuals perform better working in a group. It is the idea that was behind the open office layout. But the noise and distractions can negatively impact creativity. Especially, given that there are individuals who work better when performing tasks in a private space.

There are three neurological systems associated with focus and creativity. These systems are; the default, the executive control, and the salience networks. The default network handles spontaneous thoughts, imagination, and daydreaming. The executive control network evaluates ideas and logic. The salience network handles switching between daydreaming and idea evaluation.

Since creativity is determined by originality and usefulness, the mind needs to switch between the two sides of the brain in a seamless fashion. Unfortunately, we can’t use these brain networks at the same time. Social withdrawal gives individuals the ability to switch between daydreaming and evaluating the viability of ideas.

Meditation and Work Retreat

One advantage of isolation for modern-day hermits is there is a lot of time to work on a task that would be hard to complete in your usual environment. Isolation gives the quiet environment needed for meditation and thinking through ideas. A temporary retreat in a minimalist environment such as a cabin is ideal for writing a novel, working on a piece of art, or coming up with an idea for a new business.

Social contact is important for overall health. However, moving with the crowd will never help you find your passion and purpose. Voluntary social withdrawal can help you focus on your thoughts and come to terms with your emotions. Social withdrawal allows you to focus on tasks that you love doing, even when there is no compensation. For example, DIY projects can enhance your sense of identity and self-fulfillment. This is according to a study by the Journal of Consumer Research.

Addiction Recovery

A sequester can aid with addiction recovery. Withdrawing from your social links helps individuals struggling with addiction break away from negative influences. It is part of the reason inpatient rehab is considered to be more effective than outpatient programs. This is besides other advantages such as 24-hour monitoring for overdose or health complications.

Conclusion

Social withdrawal has many benefits for the individual. However, it is only beneficial if it is voluntary seclusion and not influenced by other factors such as loneliness. Research suggests that loneliness could be an indicator of an underlying mental health issue. As long as your sequester includes some contact with a few good friends and is healthy, there is nothing to worry about. Let’s not forget that it is possible for one to be lonely, even when surrounded by family and friends. Isolation can even help you understand others better.  

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