16 Fun Things to Do Alone (When You Just Can’t Handle Other Humans)
Friends? Great. Families? Love ‘em. But sometimes you need some alone time. Hanging out by yourself gives you the opportunity to recharge your battery, do all the things you want to do and learn how to become more independent and self-sufficient. On top of those benefits, according to a 2017 SUNY Buffalo study, spending time alone can strengthen your imagination and creativity. Whether you’re well-versed in solo outings or you’re a devout extrovert trying to dip your toe in solitude, here are 16 fun things to do by yourself.
1. Go to the MoviesIf you’re anxious about going solo to a place where most people will be in groups, a movie is an awesome place to start, since it’s super dark and anonymous and you don’t have to share your popcorn. Bonus: not having to convince anyone to go see Booksmart with you for the fourth time at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday.
Raise your hand if you frequently think to yourself, I should really give back more, only to let other things take priority. *Raises hand sheepishly* Finally make good on your promise and spend some time helping people who aren't as fortunate as you are. Check out Volunteer Match, a volunteer engagement network that can help you find opportunities to give back in your area. (A quick scroll in our zip code found listings for helping seniors care for their dogs and becoming a reading partner for a local child.)
3. Try Mindful RunningYou’ve tried to meditate, but there’s just something about sitting still for 20 minutes that doesn’t click with your on-the-move personality. Here’s something that might be more your speed (literally): mindful running. The basic concept is similar to mindfulness meditation, or using focused attention to reduce stress, improve sleep and heighten focus and creativity. The only difference? It’s a little less stationary. To try it, go for a run like you normally would but make a concerted effort to clear your mind and focus on your breathing. You can run without headphones and be totally alone with your thoughts or listen to calming music (you know, the kind without words).
4. Go to a Fancy Restaurant
Guys, dining alone is awesome. First of all, there’s no pressure to make small talk, meaning you can just chill out and enjoy your rigatoni. Secondly, you can actually focus on eating mindfully—chewing and enjoying what’s on your plate. Thirdly: people watching.
5. Have a Self-Care DayA spa day with your pals is great, but we’re all about embracing the “self” part of self-care. Here’s the best part: Pampering yourself sounds fabulous in theory, but prioritizing your mental and physical health can get expensive. But luckily, it doesn’t have to cost anything. The next time you want to relax without spending any money, consult this list of totally free ways to practice self-care. Think: Taking a long, luxurious bath; giving yourself an at-home manicure; or doing a YouTube yoga class.
6. Go to the Mall and Window-Shop
Obviously, you can shop-shop, but that route is a bit less wallet-friendly. But still, think about how fun it is to online shop and add things to your cart with no intention of buying them. This is the IRL version of that, with the added bonus that you can actually try things on. (And get an Auntie Anne’s pretzel on your way out.)
7. Start Learning a New Language
The benefits of this one are threefold. First, learning a new language stimulates your brain in a really healthy way (it’s a type of brain gym, which you can learn more about here). Second—and somewhat superficially—it’s cool and cultured to be able to speak more than one (or two or three) language. And third, it’s the perfect excuse to reward yourself with a trip to the country whose language you’re learning once you reach a certain level of fluency.
8. Cook an Elaborate MealIf you’re not totally on board with the whole going to a restaurant alone thing (totally fair), challenge yourself to make your own Michelin-worthy meal. Pull out your fanciest cookbook—or browse a site that’s teeming with delicious options—and choose a dish that looks incredible, but that you might normally overlook as being too involved. Then, go to the grocery store, put on your favorite playlist and get to work. If it turns out great, you’ll be thrilled to have made Ina Garten proud. If it doesn’t, there’s always Indian takeout.
9. Go to a Group Fitness Class
OK, stay with us. Yes, group fitness classes are intense and usually packed with people. But, if you’re working hard enough, everyone in class will be too busy catching their breath in between reps to have to talk to one another. On top of that, you’ll feel like a total badass once the workout is over.
10. Finally Get Around to MeditatingAt this point in the Golden Age of self-care, we’re pretty well-acquainted with the many benefits of meditation. For example, according to a 2018 study published in BMJ Open, anxiety may increase the risk of developing cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Meditation—which has been shown to help control anxiety—could potentially reduce this risk. Another small Harvard study in 2018 found that meditation was linked to a meaningful decrease in blood pressure. The beauty of meditation is that it can pretty much be done anywhere—at any time. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
11. Organize Your House
OK, so we know this isn’t fun for some people, but if you’re someone who finds joy in tidying and reorganizing, go wild and deep-clean you’re living space. Even if you don’t delight in doing house chores, you’ll feel infinitely better when they’re done.
12. Put Your Phone on 'Do Not Disturb'
If only for an hour, spending time without texts, emails and Instagram stories looming over your head is so refreshing.
13. Read a Great BookBook clubs aside, reading is an activity best done alone. Whether you curl up in bed with a cup of tea or head to a local park, digging into that new book you’ve had on your shelf for ages is equal parts relaxing and mentally stimulating. Not sure where to start? Find book recommendations for every kind of reader right here.
14. Go on a Vacation
While a rambling Eat, Pray, Love-style journey of self-discovery is the dream, even a one-night solo stay at a fancy hotel can feel restorative. Check an app like Hotel Tonight, which can make staying at a high-end spot near you a little more affordable. If you’re nervous to go it alone, start small by building a little on-your-own time into group vacations. (Getting away from meddling Aunt Marcia is never a bad thing, lest you forget.)
15. Be a Tourist in Your Own City
If you don’t have any kind of vacation on the horizon, take a solo day trip instead, and rediscover your own city or state. Living in a place, you rarely see it the way outsiders do, so try to mimic the tourist experience and get a new perspective on the sights that surround you. Check out a new museum exhibit or just head to that part of town you always stay away from because it’s “so touristy”—that’s kind of the point with this one.
16. Have a Solo Dance Party
You + your empty house + Beyoncé’s greatest hits = unbridled joy.