How I am Finding Myself by Being Alone (for a while). A Personal Experiment.

  • Post author:

I recently wrote about the benefits of solo travel for a codependent. More HERE. I have not only been writing about it but practicing it too, living in various locations over a free month period. This brings its excitement as well as it’s challenges but it has given me the opportunity to really test and find myself. Here, I will document what my experience has been.

Codependents often find themselves in limbo after ‘that’ relationship has finished and are left with a void and not knowing what to do for themselves. Finding a personal identity can be hard and often means taking some risk, moving out of your comfort zone while you explore your next step. In writing this, I fully accept that I am in a very priviliged position in that I can work from anywhere. However, some of the things mentioned below can be practiced as part of a daily routine, where ever you are. Please remember that should you embark on any fitness or diet based programme, please consult your doctor first.

I set off on this journey with a few considerations. I didn’t just want it to be me moving from one place to another without purpose. I chose locations carefully from urban to rural to coastal and plan to stay for an extended period. I am halfway through that journey so far. The first location was urban and a city I know very well, an easy start and a way to feel comfortable. I am now in the rural phase, staying in a converted barn in the country and by the end of the month, I am going coastal, renting close to the sea.

So far, things have gone smoothly and there have only been the normal hiccups one might expect from extensive travel but that is part of the excitement. Organizing yourself around such issues. However, I have a set programme which is detailed below. The aim is to not only find myself as an individual but to work on things that I have been putting aside.

Exercise. I am not a gym person and I love the great outdoors so exercise for me means hiking in nature. I have been a hiker since my teens and have hiked in some spectacular places but due to the availability of great GPS apps these days, good hikes can be found anywhere. I use AllTrails and find it reliable if you don’t know the area. I hike at least once a week for at least 15 to 20 km and I vary the terrain from flat to coastal to hill. It’s a great experience and I usually listen to an audiobook along the way or just immerse myself in the surrounding nature. If you pick the right trail, there might be a cafe at the end of the walk. I prefer wilderness and being alone in nature and I often take journals with me to reflect. Hiking and being in nature is simply wonderful. It doesn’t matter where I hike, there is beauty everywhere. Especially in the forest amongst trees and wildlife. Trees are something special and we tend to group them together in terms like wood or forest but trees are as individual as we are. In most parts of Northern Europe, we are replacing trees like oak, ash, birch and elm with pine. Managed for profit. These trees do not provide the same habitat for wildlife and often starve the forest floor of light. The truth is that dead trees play a vital role in providing habitat for mammals, insects and fungi. Yet we drag them away and plant a conifer in its place. Massive amounts of money is being given in the UK for rewilding projects that end up planting exotic trees that do not help the environment. We need more hedgerows and copses full of native trees.

Food: Since being diagnosed with Hypothyroidism a few months ago, I decided to make sure that my diet is healthy. I cut out sugar first (as much as you possibly can) and increased the amount of fruit and veg I eat. I have also being doing intermittent fasting since late June this year and after starting slowly, I am now on the 20 hours of fasting and 4 hours of eating. Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. There are several potential advantages to practicing intermittent fasting:

  1. Weight Loss: Intermittent fasting can help people reduce their calorie intake, leading to weight loss. During fasting periods, the body burns stored fat for energy, which can result in a reduction in body fat over time. I have lost 18 kg (50 pounds) so far.
  2. Improved Metabolic Health: Intermittent fasting may lead to improvements in various markers of metabolic health, including insulin sensitivity, blood sugar levels, and lipid profiles. This can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  3. Simplicity: Unlike some diets that require complex meal planning and calorie counting, intermittent fasting can be relatively simple to follow. It doesn’t require special foods or supplements.
  4. Convenience: It can be adapted to fit various lifestyles. Some people find it convenient to skip breakfast or dinner, making it easier to adhere to a fasting schedule.
  5. Appetite Control: Many individuals report reduced appetite when following an intermittent fasting regimen. This can make it easier to consume fewer calories and avoid overeating.
  6. Cellular Autophagy: Fasting may stimulate a process called autophagy, in which cells remove damaged components and regenerate new ones. This may have potential benefits for longevity and cellular health.
  7. Brain Health: Some research suggests that intermittent fasting may support brain health and cognitive function. It may promote the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is linked to improved brain function.
  8. Longevity: While more research is needed, some animal studies have shown that intermittent fasting can extend lifespan. It’s unclear whether the same effect occurs in humans, but it’s an area of ongoing research.
  9. Sustainability: Intermittent fasting can be easier to sustain in the long term compared to more restrictive diets because it doesn’t completely eliminate any specific food groups.
  10. Flexibility: There are different approaches to intermittent fasting, such as the 16/8 method (fasting for 16 hours and eating during an 8-hour window) or the 5:2 method (eating normally for five days and restricting calorie intake on two non-consecutive days). This flexibility allows individuals to choose a fasting schedule that suits their preferences and lifestyle.

It’s essential to note that intermittent fasting may not be suitable for everyone, and its effectiveness can vary depending on individual factors. People with certain medical conditions, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and individuals with a history of eating disorders should consult a healthcare professional before starting any fasting regimen. Additionally, a balanced diet and overall healthy lifestyle are crucial for maximizing the benefits of intermittent fasting.

Reading/Writing/Reducing screen time: I have always been a reader (and a listener of audiobooks) and I write frequently for my blogs plus I journal frequently. This I don’t need to increase but I have due to limiting scree time. I am not a scroller who whiles away hours on social media but I have limited email and text input from work after a certain time to avoid distraction. Reducing screen time brings about several advantages that span various aspects of life including increaded productivity, enhanced mental health well-being, better interpersonal relationships, increased focus and creativity and time for personal development. Not to mention reduced eye strain, less headaches and enviromental benefits.

Better daily routine: I get up at 6am every day and spend two hours reading the newspaper, meditating and drinking tea (very English, I know!). I do this in my working week and at weekends, even when I am on holiday. After work, which could be 9 or 10 pm, I read for an hour and I am always asleep by 11.30 pm ( I don`t have much control over that, it just happens). I sleep well and rarely wake during the night. I never eat or drink after seven and no screen time after work. I have been consolidating this these past few weeks.

Having a daily routine where you do things at the same time every day isn’t just about adhering to a monotonous schedule. In fact, it offers a wide range of advantages that can significantly improve the quality of your life. From psychological and physical health benefits to increased productivity and better social interactions, a daily routine can be a cornerstone of a well-balanced, fulfilling lifestyle.

One of the most immediate advantages of having a set routine is the reduction in stress and anxiety. When you know what to expect at each moment of the day, it eliminates the need to make frequent decisions about what to do next. This predictability can create a sense of security and control, which in turn reduces stress.

Furthermore, adhering to a schedule helps to develop self-discipline and the ability to delay gratification. These traits are beneficial in various areas of life, including personal growth, work, and even relationships. This consistency in daily activities also trains the brain to enter a ‘flow state,’ making it easier to focus and concentrate, which can boost your confidence and give you a sense of accomplishment.

From a physical health perspective, a routine can be incredibly beneficial. For instance, allocating time for regular exercise ensures that physical activity becomes a consistent part of your life. Eating at regular intervals can improve digestion and help maintain a balanced diet, something that is particularly important for weight management and overall health. Even medication adherence can be made simpler by sticking to a daily routine, as it becomes easier to remember to take prescribed medications at the same time each day.

When it comes to productivity, a routine helps you manage your time more efficiently. The predictability allows for easier planning of both work and social activities. Knowing when you’ll be busy and when you’ll have free time aids in task prioritization and reduces procrastination. Additionally, the skill development process can be streamlined and made more effective through consistent practice. This is because a stable routine makes it easier to allocate time specifically for skill-building activities, whether it’s learning a new language, practicing an instrument, or honing a professional skill.

A daily routine offers a multitude of advantages, from psychological well-being and physical health to productivity and interpersonal relationships. While it’s crucial to have some flexibility in your routine to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and to keep things interesting, the foundational structure that a routine provides can serve as a stepping stone to a more fulfilling, balanced life.

So there it is. My plan would not work for everyone, at least not in total but these elements are what are helping me to find my individuality and rediscover my values.

Subscribe to Dr Jenner's Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,497 other subscribers


Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a therapist, coach, and speaker, has over 20 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. His specialty lies in treating codependency, a condition that is often characterized by a compulsive dependence on a partner, friend, or family member for emotional or psychological sustenance. Dr. Jenner's approach to treating codependency involves using Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, a treatment method that has gained widespread popularity in recent years. He identifies the underlying causes of codependent behavior by exploring his patients' internal "parts," or their different emotional states, to develop strategies to break free from it. Dr. Jenner has authored numerous works on the topic and offers online therapy services to assist individuals in developing healthy relationships and achieving emotional independence.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. rubycommenting

    I moved out of State once independently for 3 years. The combination of inexpensive living(it was a more rural State), and joining an amazing church with activities plus small intimate groups made it doable. The combination of both money(affordable living), and love(support), made it work.

  2. rubycommenting

    It did, it wasn’t vacationing as you wrote about but it was a similar idea. I found what I needed in order to survive. I still am improving on that. What if there is no support available? Then what would I do? How can I live cheaper yet?

  3. toting alipis

    i like to travel solo… going out of the house when i am home is very rare… marketing for food is only once a week making sure i have enough supplies at home to avoid going out often… i live a rather isolated life…i feel safe when i am alone… my experience of sexual abuse from the hands of a jesuit must have something to do with my withdrawal from people.