Alone time can be a lot of things — scary, lonely, boring. But it can also be awesome, if you know what to do with it. This is especially true if you find yourself with an evening alone and don't want to watch TV. The trouble is, it can be really tough to think of things to try, especially when you’re used to watching Netflix or scrolling TikTok for hours on end.
Enter: A list of fun things to do with your alone time. According to Lauren Mills, MA, LPC, a licensed professional counselor, there’s nothing wrong with doing nothing. But if you find yourself bored or stuck in a rut, it may help to purposefully fill your time with an activity. “Not only will it stimulate you, but it can also help you grow as a person,” she tells Bustle.
After all, "TV is relaxing in its way, but it's passive," Jill Whitney, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. So when you have some time alone to do whatever you want, branching out can "be every bit as satisfying," she says, as well as the perfect moment to try out things you've been meaning to get to.
That might mean picking up a hobby, taking a walk, signing up for a class, or simply pulling a book from your shelf and reading a few pages. Alone time will look different for everyone, says Leah M. Forney, a mental health professional, and doing with it what you want is crucial. “Alone time allows for an increase in self-care as well as self-awareness,” she tells Bustle.
Focus on what sounds good to you, and you’ll come out the other side — whether you spend a few hours, a day, or a weekend alone — knowing a little bit more about yourself. “We live in a society that has taught us the importance of relationships with others,” Forney says. “However, we have neglected the most important relationship and that is with ourselves.” Here, 25 interesting things to do when you’re alone that are fun, grounding, artsy, and everything in between.
1. Get Involved In A Cause
If you're looking to give back, take an evening to figure out your next charitable move. "Ask yourself if there are any social or political causes that might interest you," therapist Dr. Gary Brown, Ph.D., LMFT, FAPA, tells Bustle.
Or, if you don’t know where to start, think about the problems you see in everyday life. Can’t stand it when people litter? Are you mortified by global warming? Look into organizations that help with that.
You could also zero in on what makes you happy. If you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. You could be out walking dogs or keeping cats company as we speak. And what could be better than that?
2. Use This Time To Meditate
If you rarely find yourself with a moment's peace, use this down time do some meditating. As spiritual teacher and author Heather Kristian Strang tells Bustle, you could even make an entire evening out of it. Light candles and incense, get comfy in your yoga pants, and find a few guided meditations. Start by sitting quietly for five minutes, then build up to longer amounts of time.
3. Practice A New Hobby
If you've been meaning to learn how to paint (or knit, or play piano) for forever, now's your chance. "Having time on your hands means you can learn practically anything you want online," psychotherapist Karen R. Koenig, MEd, LCSW, tells Bustle. All it takes is time and dedication. Hey, you could even treat yourself to in person lessons, which would get you out and interacting with new people. The world of crafts and hobbies is your oyster, so have at it.
4. Make Yourself A Nice Dinner
Go ahead and get takeout if that's what your heart desires. But there's also something really nice about cooking for yourself, too. Not only will you save money, but the process of chopping, cooking, eating, and cleaning up can be oddly wholesome and relaxing.
Get into it with a new recipe, or test out fun and interesting ingredients. "Once you're finished, take out the good plates and sit down to savor each bite," Strang says. Making a big deal out of it — even if it’s just homemade pizza — so will make everything taste even better.
5. Organize Your Life
Depending on what you consider "interesting," cleaning may not be at the top of your list. But it just may be worth it for the feeling of accomplishment that’ll settle in after. "Choose one drawer, shelf, or closet that's a mess and tackle it," Jill Whitney, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. If you get inspired, move onto the next one. When you’re done step back and see how much better you feel and how nice your place looks. Even if you do nothing else, "you'll go to bed feeling satisfied and proud," she says.
6. Send Out Handwritten Letters
Nothing's better than receiving real, fun mail. So if you’re feeling wordy, why not pen a handwritten note. "Tell them how much they mean to you and how your life is better with them in it," Strang says. You could also draw a picture, write an inside joke, or simply say “hey.”
To go all out, use your good stationery (you know, those nice cards you bought two years ago?), sit somewhere comfy, and let the thoughts flow. Who knows? It might even turn into a tradition where your friends write back, old-school penpal-style.
7. Get Started On That Book Pile
Not everyone needs a reminder to read, but if you have a stack of dusty books lying around that are just waiting to be perused, why not open one up? "If you haven't picked up a book since you were in school," Whitney says, "you may find that you really like reading now that you're doing it by choice rather than because someone told you to.”
8. Plan Your Next Vacation
Pop online and start planning your next vacation — even if you won't be going for awhile. "If you can't afford the trip right now, the process is still fun," Whitney says. So go ahead and check flight prices, scroll through cool hotel sites, or look up European backpacking tips. Just see what you can see.
It can also be fun to get a friend involved in the process. If you two start daydreaming about a trip and setting aside money, you can make it a reality. But in the meantime, simply talking about it and sending each other photos can be a good time, too.
9. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Sure, you could stay home in your sweatpants and call it night. Or, you could venture forth into the world. Go to a class, see a movie, or hit up an art gallery all by your lonesome. "This type of experience does more than rejuvenate you the way a nap or a massage would," relationship expert April Masini tells Bustle. "It expands your experiences and your intelligence,” so you’ll be even more well-rounded than you already are.
10. Take An Online Class
You aren't going to learn all there is to know about political philosophy in one hour, but you can certainly get started by hopping online and signing up for a class. Koenig suggests checking a college to see what courses or degree programs they offer. Even a one-off class could be fun.
11. Create A Movie List
Spend your down time creating a list of movies you’d like to see, whether it’s films by a certain director, movies from a certain genre, or that long list of classics you’ve somehow never seen. Compile the list then choose one (or two, or three) to watch whilst alone. By the end, you’ll feel a little more cultured.
12. Follow One Of Your Role Models
You could do the same for a fave musician, author, or artist, Koenig says. You can do this for pretty much anyone you admire — artist or otherwise. Look them up, research their life, and soak up as much of their work as you can. The best part? Doing it alone means you don't have to worry about sharing the same taste with others. Focus on who and what matters most to you, and learn more about it.
13. Do A Quick DIY Project
Yes, you can refinish an entire dresser tonight. But you can also focus on something a bit more manageable, especially if you only have an hour or two. "I always try to find a small project that will not add stress in trying to complete it," therapist and lifestyle consultant Querida Lugo tells Bustle, pointing to crochet as an example. Pull up the ol’ YouTube and search for something you want to tackle.
14. Fix Something In Your Apartment
Speaking of your apartment, how about getting handy and fixing a few things? As therapist Mendi Baron, LCSW, tells Bustle, there's likely something that can be done around the house. Think along the lines of de-sticking an old window, or painting an ugly bookshelf. Getting that little thing done (because hey, you have the time) can make you feel quite accomplished.
15. Work On Your Resilience
If you catch yourself feeling lonely, it may help to view an evening (or day, or weekend) alone as an exercise in resilience. "There are many resilience and positive-thinking skills that one can develop, specifically using time alone to exercise and develop these skills," Benjamin Halpern, a coach and speaker, tells Bustle.
To start, pick up a self-help book or check out some inspiring podcasts or YouTube videos. View this as an opportunity to feel comfortable in your own company. While it can take practice, spending time alone is a skill worth developing.
16. Have A Solo Date Night
Forney recommends treating yourself to a date night. “I find it fun and peaceful to be able to go to my favorite bar or restaurant and order my favorite drink or meal and read a book or meet new people,” she tells Bustle. “This helps me to expand my horizons while practicing self-care.” You could also stay in and order takeout, or simply pop a frozen pizza in the oven, light a few candles, and put on your favorite album. As long as you have fun, it counts as a date.
17. Have A Dance Party
“Putting on a playlist with your favorite songs and ‘dancing like no one’s watching’ is one of the best cures for boredom,” says spiritual life coach Sara Cardinale. “You’ll start to feel a connection to your body. Plus, movement is one of the best ways to move stuck energy, which is always present when experiencing boredom.”
18. Get Sporty
Psychotherapist Angela Ficken, LICSW, says alone time will look different for everyone. If you’re craving something more active, she recommends kicking a soccer ball around in a park, shooting hoops, or riding your bike. Maybe even try something new, like skateboarding or climbing — you never know what you might be a natural at.
19. Do A Photo Tour
An activity that’ll put your phone to good use? “Grab your phone or camera and take a walk around your neighborhood, snapping pictures of things you find interesting and/or beautiful,” psychotherapist Natasha Bryant, LCSW tells Bustle. “This will increase your appreciation for your neighborhood and help you practice being in the present.” It’ll also make for a sweet ‘gram.
20. Give Vlogging A Try
You could also record all of this in video form to create a “vlog,” Bryant says. Whether you post it to the internet or not, it’ll be a nice way to spend some time by yourself, noticing things around you, and reflecting on your thoughts. Bonus points if it ends up being funny.
21. Create Art
“You don't have to consider yourself creative to enjoy art-making,” psychotherapist Jenny Cartmell, LCAT-LP, tells Bustle. Just see what supplies you have lying around (magazines? old colored pencils?) or go pick some up. “My favorites are watercolor and collage,” she says. “You can make a visual map of your inner world. You can begin with the intention to relax and feel settled, or just have fun with it. Be playful, and bring some child-like energy back into your day.”
22. Redecorate Your Space
“Redecorating your space can feel cathartic and refreshing,” says Cartmell. “Whether it's your entire closet or just a bathroom drawer, any change can make a difference.”
Drag your couch to the opposite side of the room, hang pictures, swap out your pillows, or paint your walls. It’ll feel so good to have a fresh start.
23. Make A List Of Goals
“What are your goals for today? For this week? For this year? Creating goals can boost our motivation,” Mills says. It’s also a good use of downtime, alone time, a boring evening — whatever you want to call it. You could even go one step further and organize your goals, perhaps on an app like Notion.
For another active option, you could go for a walk in, near, or around a wooded area. “Not only does this help by getting more vitamin D, but it gets you out of your house and gives you a change in scenery,” Mills says. If you’re stressed, you could even turn it into a meditative walk.
Or you can just... literally chill. “More now than ever before, I have been finding time to just be,” certified life coach Dr. Sonja Stribling tells Bustle. In other words, if you don’t want to do anything, just sit and stare. “This helps me to gain extra clarity in my thoughts, allow myself to decompress after a long day, and find my inner peace,” she says.
Jill Whitney, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist
Natasha Sandy, MA, Couns. Psych
Lauren Mills, MA, LPC, a licensed professional counselor
Leah M. Forney, a mental health professional
Dr. Gary Brown, Ph.D., LMFT, FAPA, therapist
Heather Kristian Strang, spiritual teacher and author
Karen R. Koenig, MEd, LCSW, psychotherapist
April Masini, relationship advice expert
Querida Lugo, therapist and lifestyle consultant
Mendi Baron, LCSW,, therapist
Benjamin Halpern, a coach and speaker
Sara Cardinale, spiritual life coach
Angela Ficken, LICSW, psychotherapist
Natasha Bryant, LCSW, psychotherapist
Jenny Cartmell, LCAT-LP, psychotherapist
Dr. Sonja Stribling, certified life coach
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