Do Not Disturb

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The Benefits of Alone Time

Having experienced the extreme togetherness that marriage and motherhood can entail, I'm willing to bet no shrink could match all the benefits of a little alone time.

No Immediate Demands
Relief from "social stressors" such as clamoring children or a hectic workplace is one of the rewards of solitude, according to a University of Massachusetts Amherst study by James R. Averill, PhD, and Christopher R. Long. This kind of time-out can be especially important for women, since we've often been programmed to put everyone else's wants and needs first. Spending time alone liberates you to focus on whatever you want or need to do -- whether it's writing in a journal, window-shopping, or just watching squirrels play.

An Emotional Coffee Break
Even a short period of time alone can restore your emotional balance, says Jerry M. Burger, PhD, a psychologist at Santa Clara University. In fact, one study found that people who took a short time-out during the day were more cheerful afterward.

For Susan Kies, an associate dean at an Illinois medical school and the mother of two, this quick renewal literally comes in the form of a coffee break. "I've got the type of job where people seek me out to solve their problems, and I'm easily accessible because I have an 'open door' policy," she explains. "So each day, I take a 'two-cup break' -- two cups of lovely coffee with my door shut and a sign that says, 'Unless this is an emergency or you are my mother, DO NOT DISTURB."

Continued on page 3:  Space to Dream


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