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Your friends are going out for the second night in a row and you just can’t be bothered. Your family is taking a weeklong vacation that sounds like your personal hell. You, on the other hand, would rather just spend the time by yourself. Based on some of the negative connotations of the word loner, you might’ve thought, at one point or another, “Why do I like being alone?” But here’s the thing: Many of the stereotypes of “loners” are totally baseless. Read on for more information on why you’re so content with your own company, and how to maximize your time alone.

What Happens When You Spend Time Alone? 

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. Spending time alone can also strengthen your imagination and creativity, according to this 2017 SUNY Buffalo study. Another study, conducted by the BBC, suggests that time spent solo “puttering,” or hanging around the house doing simple chores and activities, is one of the best things an introvert can do to de-stress.

woman reading alone in her room
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What Are the Best Ways to Spend Time Alone?

If you’re a seasoned pro at the whole introvert thing, you probably already have your favorite solo activities down pat. If you’re not so used to doing things alone, try one of these ten activities to dip your toe into the waters of healthy isolation. 

1. Have a Self-Care Day

A 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. 

2. Go to the Movies

If 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.

3. 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.

4. Try Mindful Running

You’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).

5. Finally Get Around to Meditating 

At 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. 

6. Cook an Elaborate Meal

If 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.

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. 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 your living space. Even if you don’t delight in doing house chores, you’ll feel infinitely better when they’re done.

9. Read a Great Book

Book 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.

10. 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. If you want to go off the grid for longer, just let the important people in your life know so they don’t worry about you and send a search party out—which would totally interrupt your radio silence mode.

RELATED: How to Be a Good Friend When You’re an Introvert

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