The worldwide need to quarantine has invited a wide focus on loneliness and its effects on mental health. The pandemic has also forced many people into situations that cause aloneliness. Aloneliness refers to a person’s craving for time to themselves and is the opposite feeling of loneliness, for just as many people crave the company of other people, many people crave time away from other people.
Aloneliness can cause mental health problems, including depression, and feelings of aloneliness may be more prevalent now, during the coronavirus pandemic, wherein many people find themselves with less time to themselves, as they contend with spending more time in their homes with roommates, children, and partners.
Another way to understand the contrast of loneliness and aloneliness is to see the difference between solitude and isolation. Solitude is a voluntary state—a person is experiencing solitude when they seek alone time. Isolation refers to an involuntary state. Patients who are forced by hospital staff to quarantine as a measure of infection control experience loneliness.
Aloneness isn’t, however, limited to isolation; if you’re working overnight while missing the company of your family, you might feel lonely. You might consider yourself alonely if in this scenario you’re missing time you could spend with yourself.
I don’t recall ever feeling lonely. I am familiar, however, with aloneliness, the desire for alone time, as I prefer to spend time alone than with people. People drain me, make me sleepy, and I find it difficult to think and function when around other people. Though I do experience a desire for connection, I prefer asynchronous communication. Email and LinkedIn are my preferrable methods of communication, though I also enjoy occasional Zoom meetings.
This is why I work from home. At home, I’m more productive and I feel well. I feel neither lonely or alonely. I feel focused. I feel, too, a sense of sadness for those need to work from home but whose employers won’t allow them work from home. People need time and space by themselves.
If, like me, you’re neurodivergent or disabled, you likely need more space than most people. The existence of aloneliness is one of the innumerable reasons work from home should be enabled wherever possible. All people deserve to spend more time with themselves or with their loved ones than they do at their workplaces.