Spending time alone is how we tune in to ourselves. It’s how we listen to our thoughts, feelings and needs. Which, of course, is the first step in caring for ourselves. It’s how we get to know what we like and don’t like. It’s how we explore who we are. It’s how we make sense of everything. It’s how we learn to trust ourselves.
I spend a lot of time alone. And yet not enough.
I crave alone time in the calm and comfort of my quiet home. I work from home, because I often need complete silence to concentrate on my writing. Other times I’m with people — hanging out with my husband or my mom (which I love), talking and laughing in my group exercise classes.
But what I’ve realized is that I need to do more things alone. To be alone with my thoughts amid the outside world, instead of in the corners of my home. To be comfortable with myself on solitary excursions. To sharpen my self-trust, which tends to wane.
Many people do this already. Many people hike for hours by themselves. Many take solo weekend trips and even solo adventures around the world.
What about you? Do you do many things alone? What do you love (or not love) about doing these things?
Today, create your own list of fun solitary activities. Spend the summer trying them out. If you like, after you’re done with each activity, reflect on how it felt to be alone doing what you were doing.
Below are some examples you might want to try (or might trigger other ideas for your list):
— going to the beach early to listen to the waves and to yourself (if there’s one nearby, of course). Going early helps you beat the heat and usually means less people, which means you have all that beauty to yourself.
— going to a bookstore (or library). Personally, I can spend hours in any place that houses books, looking around, touching the covers, reading first lines, and walking aimlessly. There’s a peacefulness when you’re around books, and of course there’s tons of inspiration.
— exploring a nearby city for the day, which means you get to go where you want to go, eat where you want to eat and enjoy the awe of being in a new place.
— going to a movie (again, you get to pick precisely what you’d like to see).
— checking out a new exhibit. If you live in a city with great museums, definitely take advantage! Also, I am very jealous of you.
— meditating or journaling at the beach, park or any natural surroundings.
— creating a picnic at the park. Make it special. Bring a blanket, your favorite foods, and a few great reads.
— trying a new yoga or dance class or trying any new class on anything.
— taking a walk with your camera, capturing all the miracles you see: trees, flowers blooming, sun rising or setting, a cloudless sky.
— going to a coffee shop to savor a snack and people-watch.
— shopping for a pampering kit: body wash, lotion, candles, perfume, journal, nail polish, flowers.
Being by ourselves can feel awkward. It can trigger a lot of self-doubts, insecurities and emotions. But the more quality time we spend with ourselves, the more we listen, the more comfortable and confident we become. The more our self-trust grows and flourishes.
What do you like to do alone? What activities will you try?