The Dangers of Working Alone (Even If You’re an Introvert)

When I looked at the calendar and realized it had been four days since I left the house, I knew there was a problem.

For many solopreneurs, this is a daily reality. When you don’t have to technically leave the house for anything at all, it’s tempting to just… stay home. And with all the tech available to us, we can have virtual meetings, order anything we could possibly want online, have an entire week of groceries delivered, and (thanks to mobile deposit) we don’t even have to go to the bank when we get paid!

If you’re an introvert, working alone can be fabulous. You don’t have to talk to anyone, you can work in silence, and if you don’t want to get dressed, no one is there to call you on it.

It’s delightful to be in your own space, with no one around.

Until it’s not.

Working from home gets tiring, even for introverts

Humans are wired for connection, and too much alone time can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. Studies have shown that isolation devastates the brain in as little as a few days.

When you isolate yourself, you’re cutting yourself off from what you ultimately need to survive.

And it’s not just the brain. A study from researchers at the University of North Carolina shows that loneliness can “vastly elevate” a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer, making it as dangerous to your health as a lack of physical inactivity in youth or diabetes in old age.

You might argue that social media conversations and skype conversations have you covered, but it’s really not the same at all. Seeing someone through a screen just doesn’t do it. If you’ve ever met with someone via skype and then met them in person, you know what I’m talking about. There’s just no substitution for in-person contact.

How to connect without giving up your home office:

Here are a few ways that you can keep your home office yet still get the connection you need to be happy and healthy:

1. Work at least once a week from a coffee shop.
The ambient noise and being in the same physical space as others can do wonders for your mood. You don’t have to talk to anyone, you’re just there, sharing space. Find a location that feels supportive – maybe it’s a Starbucks, or maybe it’s a quieter cafe. Experiment and find what works for you.

2. Join a co-working space.
Co-working is a great way to be around other entrepreneurs who are also craving a space to do their work. People often find that they make new connections they wouldn’t have otherwise had, and you may even be able to refer business to each other. At the very least, you’re in an environment conducive to working.

3. Get out regularly with friends, even if it’s for a quick lunch date.
Don’t let those relationships fade away, just because you’re self-employed and work from home. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of working 24/7, but you’ll feel better when you get out and spend time with people you love to be around.

4. Get out in your community.
Walk around, visit a farmers’ market, go to a dog park…just being around people (and sunshine) can brighten your day and make you less likely to retreat to your safe space.

5. Join a gym (and tell a friend).
Making a commitment to show up and exercise is not only supporting your body, but your mind as well. Don’t like the gym? Find a yoga studio or other activity that you enjoy.

This won’t always feel easy, but you just need to take the first step. It’s worth it, for your physical and mental health. And as a result, you’ll be happier, healthier, and more productive in the long run.

What do you do to get out there when you feel yourself sinking into your hermit crab ways?