Spending time alone is good for your mental health.

Being on your own can be good for mental health

Being on your own can be good for mental health

Scientists have discovered that solitude can be "healthy" as it reduces stress and creates a sense of freedom – but only if it is through choice.

Previous research has linked social isolation with poor mental health but the new study stresses that "too little solitude" can actually do harm.

Boffins at the University of Reading examined the mental health impact on those who voluntarily spent time on their own and discovered that improves "wellbeing" among those who are "alone but not lonely".

178 adults aged 35 and over in the UK and US were followed for up to three weeks and were asked to keep a journal recording how long they spent alone as well as their levels of stress and life satisfaction.

The researchers concluded: "Spending more hours alone was linked with... feelings of reduced stress, suggesting solitude's calming effects. A day with more time in solitude also related to feeling (greater) freedom to choose and be oneself."