These Beautiful Drawings Shut Down the Stigma About Women Who Live Alone

February 18th 2016

Lucy Tiven

Women who live alone often face the spinster stigma: The idea that women who live alone are undesirable, despairing hoarders surrounded by cats. It can come in the form of prying questions from employers, wedding anxiety, or that concerned aunt begging for details about your love life.

But living alone doesn't mean you're in the pits of despair: It actually has a wide range of mental benefits. Artist Idalia Candelas created a beautiful series of illustrations that capture exactly why there's nothing wrong with female solitude.

1. Women Who Live Alone Have More Time To Think Deeply and Creatively

Idalia Candelas illustration

It's easy to feel overstimulated, whether you're in a bustling office or a hectic party or simply driving past an array of freeway billboards.

"Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly," Psychology Today reported.

Being alone in your own space gives you the chance to reconnect with your creative self. Sometimes this can be painful. But creative work often comes out of intense feelings we only recognize when we're free from distraction.

"Solitude, I think, heightens artistic receptivity in a way that can be challenging and painful," Danish writer Dorthe Nors told The Atlantic. She added:

"When you sit there, alone and working, you get thrown back on yourself. Your life and your emotions, what you think and what you feel, are constantly being thrown back on you. And then the “too much humanity” feeling is even stronger: You can't run away from yourself. You can't run away from your emotions and your memory and the material you're working on. Artistic solitude is a decision to turn and face these feelings, to sit with them for long periods of time."

2. Living Alone Makes You Sleep Better

Idalia Candelas illustration

Pop wisdom argues that sleeping in different beds or rooms is a harbinger of a failing relationship. But research suggests that sharing a bed doesn't necessarily help you or your relationship: Couples who sleep together experience 50 percent more sleep disturbances than those who hit the sack solo, according to a study cited by the BBC.

Sleep specialist Neil Stanley linked poor sleep to both physical and mental disorders, the BBC reported. People who don't get a good night's sleep are more prone to lung and heart disease, depression, and strokes. They are also were more likely to get into car accidents and even to get divorced.

3. Solitude allows you to explore yourself

Idalia Candelas illustration

It can be hard not to lose sight of who you are amid the hustle and bustle of group social life. Peer pressure doesn't just lead us toward adolescent vice; it also shapes who we are, whether in early childhood classrooms, adult workplaces, social networks, or friend groups.

Being alone doesn't change the reality that we evolved to be social. But when you don't live with friends or partners, it's easier to get time away. In the Internet age, we're rarely truly alone, but when you live alone, you can avoid the negative impact of social media peer pressure by simply turning off your phone.

4. Solitude Reduces Depression

Idalia Candelas illustration

Time alone is often stigmatized as a sign of depression. But there's evidence that time spent alone actually made adolescents less depressed, according to a 1997 study published in the journal Child Development. The idea that being alone makes you lonely is a sign of the larger cultural stigma around singlehood.

"Our culture has deep roots in the idea of coupling," according to Everyday Feminism. "The social requirement for every person to ultimately enter into a heterosexual, monogamous, legally bound partnership has been a norm throughout our nation’s history." Feminist movements in recent history have pushed back against the idea that womanhood requires coupling up. Today, singlehood need not be something to be sad about.

5. Alone time makes you more productive

Idalia Candelas illustration

The benefits of solitude aren't limited to artists and creative types. Taking time away from the crowd makes anyone more focused, productive, and better at problem solving, according to Psychology Today.

Fortunately, the stigma around single life is eroding as more and more American adults choose not to marry or put off tying the knot. By 2011, a little less than half of adults were unmarried, and more people were choosing to marry later in life than in previous generations, a Pew Research study found.

You can see more of Candela's illustrations on Instagram.

(h/t Mashable)