Many people view alone time as the best thing ever. But you? You view it as a fate worse than death. Instead of relaxing and enjoying spending time by yourself, you pass the hours pacing your apartment, or wondering what the heck to do with yourself.
It's not an ideal reaction, but it is a totally normal one. I mean, think about it: If you're used to being connected on a 24/7 basis, then of course the idea of going solo will feel a bit scary. Not to mention, it's always a tad unnerving to see what the ol' brain will cook up once it's sans distractions.
In fact, that latter point is a big reason why so many people hate the idea of spending time all by their lonesome. "Some people struggle with being alone because they cannot be alone with their thoughts," says Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, in an email to Bustle. "They feel that if they keep moving, and stay distracted with other things, they will not have to deal with this material."
If that's the case for you, it could definitely explain why it feels so wrong to spend an evening at home, or to go a few hours without checking your phone. But, even though it's kinda painful, that's even more of a reason to practice being with yourself. Below are some tips for successfully doing just that, and actually enjoying it.
1. Ease Into Alone Time
If the thought of spending time alone makes your blood run cold, then start off slowly. "Don't jump right into a weekend long Netflix marathon," Martinez says. "Build up your tolerance and find activities that you enjoy that also serve to calm and distract while you are alone." Before long, larger swaths of solitude won't feel so scary. And hey — you might even find it enjoyable.
2. Be Your Own Source Of Validation
Yes, it feels pretty great to get constant texts, and to have constant plans. But take a second and ask yourself why you crave this 24/7 attention. Could it be you don't know how to give yourself validation? If that's the case, try spending time alone — without your phone, tablet, or laptop — and really tune into yourself, according to Gabrielle Garrett on TinyBuddha.com. You'll soon realize you don't really need anybody else but yourself.
3. Get On Board With Those Hobbies
"Some people who find that they don’t like spending time alone are simply bored when they do so," said Alena Hall in a Huffington Post article. If that's your problem, then snag new some hobbies, ASAP. Use the silence to read, or paint, or knit. Or take advantage of an empty apartment and marathon some movies, or learn how to cook. This is your time to try new things, without any distractions.
4. Don't Check Your Phone
If you've made the commitment to spend some with yourself, then make a point to leave your phone out of it. Checking it not only defeats the purpose of alone time, but you'll likely eye a status update that makes you feel lonely and left out. Save yourself the pain or feelings of FOMO, and tuck your phone out of sight.
5. Realize It's Time To Be Your Truest Self
I used to hate spending time alone until I realized, with absolute glee, that an evening by myself meant I could do anything. Isn't that an exciting prospect? Alone time is your chance to be your truest self, so dance around in your underwear, marathon that embarrassing cartoon, and snack away on whatever you want. It's really what "me" time is all about.
6. Go Out On The Town
No one ever said spending time alone meant locking your door and camping out at home. "If you hate being alone because you feel stir crazy at home, a change in location could do the trick," said Hall. Go grab a coffee, walk around town, or read in the park. This still counts as "alone time," even though you're not technically by yourself.
7. Use The Time To Your Advantage
OK, so chores might not be at the top of your "fun things to do" list, but a weekend alone is an excellent opportunity to get sh*t done. Turn on some music, put our hair in a ponytail, and get to cleaning. In a few hours, your apartment will look amazing and you'll have successfully passed the time. Go you.
8. Tell Yourself "This Is Good For Me"
"By spending time with yourself and gaining a better understanding of who you are and what you desire in life, you're more likely to make better choices about who you want to be around," said Sherrie Bourg Carter, Ph.D., on Psychology Today. Keep that in mind when if you start to feel lonely, or like you're missing out.
9. Use The Time For Self Improvement
You've been telling yourself for ages that you need to update your blog, or go for a run, or practice the piano. Well, what better time, right? Having alone time means getting to focus on yourself and all your personal to-do lists.
10. Work On Your Relationships
Spending time all by your lonesome is way easier when you know there are people out there who care. But when that's not the case, alone can become quite the painful prospect. "A lack of depth and connection can make you feel less heard, understood, appreciated or secure in the fact that you do have someone to call should you need to," Hall said. Working on your relationships — and focusing on the good people in your life — can definitely make it easier.
11. Enjoy The Ultimate Relaxation
While there's nothing wrong with running around and doing things for others, it is necessary to occasionally cancel plans, kick back at home, and really pamper yourself. The moment you climb into a bubble bath is the moment you forget why you hated spending time alone.
Not only is alone time often an excellent experience, it's also an essential life skill that everyone should have tucked away. So cancel your plans, put down your phone, and get to hanging out with yourself.
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