It is important to spend time alone. For introverts, it allows us much needed time to recharge our batteries. However, for all of us, it is a great time to check in with ourselves and develop healthy relationships with ourselves in the process.
Spending time alone is the perfect way to really get to know ourselves, to hear our inner voice and develop a friendship with ourselves. Not to mention doing things alone pushes our comfort zone. In some ways, we are forced to be more social and that can open the door for new relationships to enter our lives. Choosing to be alone is one thing, however, being thrown into it by outside forces such as a divorce, a death, a move or change in friendships can be difficult to get used to.
We will all face times in our lives when we have to spend time alone so getting used to alone time is something we should all try to embrace in some way or another.
To help you develop more independence in your life here are 70 ideas of ways to spend time alone. Are you ready to push your comfort zone and have some solo fun? Good, let’s do this!
Go for a walk in the park
Eat at your favorite restaurant
Learn to knit
Try paint by numbers
Volunteer for a cause you love
Have a solo picnic
Read a book in the park
Go to the beach and soak in the sun
Try a yoga class
Head to a coffee shop and people watch
Go to an arcade and play a few games
See a daytime movie
Binge watch an awesome Netflix series
Bake something fabulous for yourself
Try meal prepping for your week ahead
Start a garden
Take an online course
Try a night class
Get a massage
Go to the spa
Get your hair done
Get a manicure or pedicure
Go window shopping
Have a solo lunch date with yourself and your favorite magazine
Check out your local farmers market
Go for a bike ride
Declutter your home
Take a road trip
Learn about astrology
Watch some live music
See a play at your local theatre
Create a vision board
Give yourself a face mask
Do at home yoga
Drive somewhere magical and watch a sunrise or sunset
Go on a hike
Start a gratitude list
Watch your favorite movie with some popcorn
Head to a local museum
Write a list of your monthly or yearly goals
Grab your favorite latte and browse in a bookstore
Join a meditation or yoga retreat
Try solo traveling
Take a cooking class
Do a DIY project
Start a puzzle
Start a home reno project
Take a midday nap
Have an at-home dance party
Feed the ducks at the park
Listen to a podcast
Learn a musical instrument
Head to the library
Learn a new language
Play a free online game
Get a bubble bath
Rearrange your bedroom
Fill a photo album
Plan a trip
Order pizza and stay in
Explore a new town
Watch your old favorite music videos
Try on some new makeup at Sephora
Note: This article was written in 2016. I am alerted that this site is not secure. Not sure what that means, but do take care if you’re asked for personal information.
“I just want someone to talk to, and a little of that human touch. Just a little of that human touch.” It looks like Bruce Springsteen was onto something. We really do need human touch, and not just a little–we actually need it a lot. We’ve needed it since the day we are born and throughout our lives.
A world without touch is hard to imagine, but as we live more isolated lives and interact less, this can indeed become a problem. Browse through the following gallery and learn why human touch is so important and why we all need it.
Cabin fever is a popular term for a relatively common reaction to being isolated or confined for an extended period of time. Cabin fever is not a specific diagnosis, but rather a constellation of symptoms that can occur under these circumstances.
If you are experiencing cabin fever as a result of social distancing or self-quarantine in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you may be feeling additional stress beyond that which stems from simply being isolated. There are ways to combat the anxiety you may be feeling.
Not everyone suffering from cabin fever will experience exactly the same symptoms, but many people report feeling intensely irritable or restless. Other commonly experienced effects are:
Lack of patience
Sadness or depression
Note that these symptoms may also be indicative of a wide range of other disorders. If these symptoms are distressing or impact your functioning, a trained mental health professional could help you determine if you have a treatable disorder.
If your symptoms are relatively mild, taking active steps to combat your feelings may be enough to help you feel better. If they are impacting you more significantly, they are best addressed with the assistance of a therapist or other mental health professional.
Get Out of the House
If you are able to go outside, even for a short time, take advantage of that opportunity. Exposure to daylight can help regulate the body’s natural cycles, and exercise releases endorphins, creating a natural high.1 Even a quick stroll can help you feel better quickly. If you are not able to leave the house at all, get close to a window and start moving around.
Maintain Normal Eating Patterns
For many of us, a day stuck at home is an excuse to overindulge in junk food. Others skip meals altogether. However, eating right can increase our energy levels and motivation. You may feel less hungry if you are getting less exercise, but monitor your eating habits to ensure that you maintain the proper balance of nutrition. Limit high-sugar, high-fat snacks and drink plenty of water.Stress-Relieving Techniques to Stop Emotional Eating
When you are stuck in the house, you may be more likely to while away the time doing nothing of importance. Set daily and weekly goals, and track your progress toward completion. Make sure that your goals are reasonable, and reward yourself for meeting each milestone.Self-Improvement Goal Setting Tips
Use Your Brain
Although TV is a distraction, it is also relatively mindless. Work crossword puzzles, read books or play board games. Stimulating your mind can help keep you moving forward and reduce feelings of isolation and helplessness.2
Even if you cannot leave the house, find a way to stay physically active while indoors. Regular physical activity can help burn off any extra energy you have from being cooped up indoors. Indoor exercise ideas include workout videos, bodyweight workouts, and online workout routines.
A Word From Verywell
While staying indoors and social distancing may run counter to our instinct for socialization, it is imperative that we heed the strict guidelines given by the CDC to help minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Ignoring these recommendations will result in an increase in the number of symptomatic cases and deaths.
It is important to take this situation seriously and face the necessity of being stuck indoors with ‘cabin fever.’ Read a book, play board games, watch television, and talk to friends via FaceTime—but stay inside.
Between combining finances, raising children, and the increased household chores, being married can certainly be a source of stress. But, it turns out, having a spouse can also reduce anxiety as well. A new study published in the journal PLOS One has provided evidence that having a spouse by your side can be a real stress reliever in a moment of crisis.
For the study, Wendy Birmingham, a psychology professor at Brigham Young University, and her colleagues asked 40 married couples to complete a challenging task on a computer while an infrared camera continuously measured the size of their pupils. When we are stressed or scared, our pupils dilate, so the camera provided a biological sign of how participants were responding to the pressure of the assignment. Some of the couples had to do the task separately, whereas others completed it while their spouse was by their side.
While all of the participants showed signs of stress when initially taking on the task, the ones who had their spouses sitting next to them throughout the ordeal calmed down significantly sooner than those who had to do it alone. They were able to complete the assignment at lower stress levels overall than their counterparts who were flying solo.
“When we have a spouse next to us and with us, it really helps us navigate and get through the stress we have to deal with in life,” Birmingham said.
Interestingly enough, a 2018 study found that when romantic partners hold hands, their breathing, heart rate, and even brain wave patterns actually sync up, which enables them to relieve both emotional and physical pain. But this new BYU study is unique in that it used a more biological means of measuring stress, as opposed to relying on surveys.
“The neat thing is that the pupils respond within 200 milliseconds to the onset of a stressor,” said Steven Luke, a psychology professor at BYU and co-author of the study. “It can immediately measure how someone responds to stress and whether having social support can change that. It’s not just a different technique, it’s a different time scale.”
The study also builds upon previous research that being married can help lower your blood pressure, body mass index, and cholesterol levels, reduce your risk of heart disease and dementia, and even boost your overall longevity.
Here are strategies to get a sounder night’s slumber and dream more peacefully during the pandemic.
1. Focus on Optimistic Thoughts Before Bed
“Research has shown that our levels of optimism and peace of mind, or pessimism and anxiety, have a direct effect on the subject matter and emotional content of our dreams,” Michael Breus PhD says.
“If your dreams are currently disruptive and disturbing right now, create a nightly ‘Power Down Hour’ that focuses on bringing you to a positive frame of mind before bed,” he recommends.
Need some inspo? Here are a few ideas from Breus:
Watch a funny or inspiring TV show
Talk to a friend or loved one who lifts you up
Pray or engage in a spiritual practice that elevates you
Look at old photo albums and enjoy some positive memories
Yoga or meditation can also put you in a zen state of mind before drifting off to dreamland.
2. ‘Re-write’ Your Nightmares
A technique called “image rehearsal therapy” — where people re-write the stories of their nightmares, turning their scary scripts into happier, more peaceful ones — has been shown to help reduce nightmares, especially reoccurring ones, and make sleep easier and less stressful, Breus says.
Once you re-script your dream, visualize it, replaying it in your mind before bed. Over time (five to seven days, Breus says), the content of your bad dream may begin to change.
3. Limit Your Media Consumption
Watching the news and scrolling through social media can increase your anxiety and stress, leading to more negatively-charged dreaming. Breus recommends limiting your overall daily media intake, especially at night before bed. And if you’re tempted to scroll, leave your phone in another room.
4. Don’t Oversleep
“If you sleep in, you will ultimately get more REM sleep (which happens more in the back one-third of the night), which leads to more dreams and nightmares,” Breus explains.
Plus, oversleeping also throws off your circadian rhythms.
5. Drink Less Alcohol
“Whatever emotion you are having in a dream is often increased by the presence of alcohol,” Breus says.
What’s more, drinking booze affects our sleep quality, which can also boost bizarre dream content, he adds.
6. Cut Down Your Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant, which can increase anxiety in some people, says Breus, adding, “Do any of us really need to add to our anxiety right now?.”
That said, Breus suggests limiting caffeinated drinks, especially three to four hours before bed, and ideally by 2 p.m.
7. Move More
Due to lockdown and stay-at-home restrictions — and with many gyms still closed — our activity levels have dropped dramatically. “Lack of exercise, including daily movement, is affecting sleep quality,” Breus says.
The more you move, the better you will sleep. Breus suggests sticking to a daily exercise routine and finding small ways to incorporate more movement throughout your day — take out the trash, walk to the mailbox, walk your dog, etc.
8. Reach Out for Help
“If you’re experiencing debilitating dreams or waking anxiety that’s affecting your ability to function normally, don’t try to tough it out or go it alone,” Breus says. Seek out a licensed mental health professional who can help you navigate and cope during this difficult time.
Some people seem to have a naturally higher baseline for happiness—one large-scale study of more than 2,000 twins suggested that around 50% of overall life satisfaction was due to genetics, 10% to external events, and 40% to individual activities.9
So while you might not be able to control what your “base level” of happiness is, there are things that you can do to make your life happier and more fulfilling. Even the happiest of individuals can feel down from time to time and happiness is something that all people need to consciously pursue.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is good for both your body and mind. Physical activity is linked to a range of physical and psychological benefits including improved mood. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise may play a role in warding off symptoms of depression, but evidence also suggests that it may also help make people happier, too.
In one analysis of past research on the connection between physical activity and happiness, researchers found a consistent positive link.10
Even a little bit of exercise produces a happiness boost—people who were physically active for as little as 10 minutes a day or who worked out only once a week had higher levels of happiness than people who never exercised.
In one study, participants were asked to engage in a writing exercise for 10 to 20 minutes each night before bed.11 Some were instructed to write about daily hassles, some about neutral events, and some about things they were grateful for. The results found that people who had written about gratitude had increase positive emotions, increased subjective happiness, and improve life satisfaction.
As the authors of the study suggest, keeping a gratitude list is a relatively easy, affordable, simple, and pleasant way to boost your mood. Try setting aside a few minutes each night to write down or think about things in your life that you are grateful for.
Find a Sense of Purpose
Research has found that people who feel like they have a purpose have better well-being and feel more fulfilled.12 A sense of purpose involves seeing your life as having goals, direction, and meaning. It may help improve happiness by promoting healthier behaviors.
Some things you can do to help find a sense of purpose include:
Look for new things you might want to learn more about
This sense of purpose is influenced by a variety of factors, but it is also something that you can cultivate. It involves finding a goal that you care deeply about that will lead you to engage in productive, positive actions in order to work toward that goal.
While seeking happiness is important, there are times when the pursuit of life satisfaction falls short. Some challenges to watch for include:
Valuing the Wrong Things
Money may not be able to buy happiness, but there is research that spending money on things like experiences can make you happier than spending it on material possessions.
One study, for example, found that spending money on things that buy time—such as spending money on time-saving services—can increase happiness and life satisfaction.13
Rather than overvaluing things such as money, status, or material possessions, pursuing goals that result in more free time or enjoyable experiences may have a higher happiness reward.
Not Seeking Social Support
Social support means having friends and loved ones that you can turn to for support. Research has found that perceived social support plays an important role in subjective well-being. For example, one study found that perceptions of social support were responsible for 43% of a person’s level of happiness.14
It is important to remember that when it comes to social support, quality is more important than quantity. Having just a few very close and trusted friends will have a greater impact on your overall happiness than having many casual acquaintances.
Thinking of Happiness as an Endpoint
Happiness isn’t a goal that you can simply reach and be done with. It is a constant pursuit that requires continual nurturing and sustenance.
One study found that people who tend to value happiness most also tended to feel the least satisfied with their lives.15 Essentially, happiness becomes such a lofty goal that it becomes virtually unattainable.
“Valuing happiness could be self-defeating because the more people value happiness, the more likely they will feel disappointed,” suggest the authors of the study.
Perhaps the lesson is to not make something as broadly defined as “happiness” your goal. Instead, focus on building and cultivating the sort of life and relationships that bring fulfillment and satisfaction to your life.
How to Practice
While some people just tend to be naturally happier, there are things that you can do to cultivate your sense of happiness.
Pursue Intrinsic Goals
Achieving goals that you are intrinsically motivated to pursue, particularly ones that are focused on personal growth and community, can help boost happiness. Research suggests that pursuing these types of intrinsically-motivated goals can increase happiness more than pursuing extrinsic goals like gaining money or status.3
Enjoy the Moment
Studies have found that people tend to over earn—they become so focused on accumulating things that they lose track of actually enjoying what they are doing.4
So, rather than falling into the trap of mindlessly accumulating to the detriment of your own happiness, focus on practicing gratitude for the things you have and enjoying the process as you go.
Reframe Negative Thoughts
When you find yourself stuck in a pessimistic outlook or experiencing negativity, look for ways that you can reframe your thoughts in a more positive way.
People have a natural negativity bias, or a tendency to pay more attention to bad things than to good things. This can have an impact on everything from how you make decisions to how you form impressions of other people.
Reframing these negative perceptions isn’t about ignoring the bad. Instead, it means trying to take a more balanced, realistic look at events. It allows you to notice patterns in your thinking and then challenge negative thoughts.