How to Enjoy Being Alone

by Christie Kim, MHC

“Alone time” means something different for everyone. For those who lean towards the introverted end of the spectrum, alone time may be considered a treat, a respite from the overcrowded, overstimulating, overwhelming aspects of daily life, especially in NYC. Others who feel recharged by being around others, who tend toward extroversion, may fear spending time alone and actively look for ways to avoid doing so. 

While spending time with yourself has many benefits— it can allow for rest, self-care, clarity, independence — it can also act as a trigger for less desirable thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. Time alone can be a joyful, freeing experience and there are many ways to utilize the space you deserve to explore yourself (aside from mindlessly watching TV, eating, or sleeping). Being intentional and creative with alone time can help protect against any unwanted feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, isolation, or self-criticism.

So whether you’ve got your alone time game plan all set, or you’re still wondering how to spend time with just you, here are seven ways to enjoy being alone:

  1. Learn a new skill or hobby: We often undervalue the importance of hobbies, but trying out a new sport or instrument or creative skill, like embroidery or painting, is a relaxing way to figure out what you like, what you’re good at, and what you value outside of work and other responsibilities. 

  2. Treat yourself: Self-care nights (or weekends) are becoming more and more common, especially with the ubiquity of sheet masks. It is important to block off time for yourself: light a candle, try a new makeup look, stretch, treat your face and body kindly. Take a moment to thank your body for all it does for you.

  3. Solo dance parties: Whether you tend to dance like no one’s watching or you actually don’t want anyone to see you dance, a solo dance party can help you disconnect from stress and worry and reconnect you with your body and movement. Trust your body’s instincts, it’s a no-judgment zone. Optional: headphones, lights on/off, music.

  4. Read! It’s too easy now to sacrifice books for TV, movies, youtube, and even podcasts. But books are one of the best ways to feel connected in the midst of being alone. Learn what stories or genres draw you in, ask for recommendations, and take the risk of turning off the noise and open up the book you’ve been meaning to read.

  5. Journal: It’s another way of talking to yourself and exploring what’s going on for you. Document the events of the day, write a stream of consciousness, use a prompt, or just get your thoughts out of your head. Journaling can also be a useful way to set goals or create a vision for your future, as well as reflect on where you are today.

  6. Take a Walk: No matter the weather, taking a walk can help clear your head and get your heart rate up. Explore a totally new neighborhood, people-watch, or take your favorite route to a place that holds good memories.

  7. Meditate: Take a moment to be in silence and quiet your mind. Seek out the countless apps, videos, and people, who can guide your meditation practice, or simply close your eyes and breathe deeply. Again, aim for no judgment, no self-consciousness. Enjoy the magic of being here, now.

Remember that alone time does not have to feel lonely. Prioritizing time alone is another way of prioritizing yourself.