The Different Faces of Solitude

Institution: Carleton University
Category: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Language: English

Course Description

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to how we live our lives. And after what may feel like a lifetime of social distancing and remote learning, you may find yourself wondering, How much time alone is “too much”? The short answer is: It’s complicated. As you’ll see, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to understanding solitude. Solitude has many faces. Many causes. Many consequences. To make matters more complicated, people have different views and experiences of solitude because, well, we’re all different!

In this course, you’ll learn about the complex meanings of solitude and factors that impact our experiences of being alone over the lifespan. You’ll also learn about how spending time in solitude can benefit your mental health and well-being, as well as tips and tricks for engaging in solitude more positively.

This course will provide:
• A brief history on the construct of solitude and its application to psychology (with a developmental focus)
• A definition of solitude that emphasizes cultural and contextual perspectives
• A discussion of the costs and benefits of solitude throughout the lifespan
• A “recipe” for engaging in high quality solitude experiences (e.g., 15 minutes of solitude; mindfulness meditation; a solitary activity journal; group discussions)

Specific topics covered may include (but are not limited to):
• Motivations for seeking (or avoiding) solitude (e.g., introversion, extraversion, shyness, affinity for aloneness, social anxiety)
• Solitude vs. Loneliness: What’s the difference?
• The effects of social isolation on mental health (with a focus on COVID-19)
• Solitude and well-being in adolescence
• Solitude and technology
• The benefits of being alone in nature
• The meanings and implications of solitude across cultures