Go see a matinee. Bonus points for buying that obscene tub of popcorn and showing it who’s boss.
For some of us introvert types, the proper amount of alone time is the crucial lifeblood of our existence. It’s the thing that allows us to function (somewhat) normally in the world. Others have a tendency to short-circuit without a friend (okay, even a rock will do) to chat away the hours. Surrounding yourself with people makes it all worth it, and you’re beside yourself without some kind of noise present.
Then there’s still that other group, the ones who desperately need this designated time whether they know it or not and simply have a hard time making it happen. If that sounds like you, you’re probably a parent. And to you I say, congrats on taking care of another living, breathing human. That’s a big job. You more than anyone should try to carve out some space for yourself.
When this blessed (and most likely rare) occasion presents itself, here are some ways to make the most of the time to yourself in order to fully recharge and even benefit your mental health.
1. Do something embarrassing.
Watch a stupid show, perform a full, literal song-and-dance in your kitchen, test out that snack or outfit that people might judge you for (haters!), or have a therapeutic scream sesh if you’re in the place to get away with it.
2. Ferris Bueller it up at a museum.
Consider it your fully grown field trip. Enlighten the heck out of yourself and learn a thing or two. Whether the museum features art, history, local legend, or pop culture, there’s a reason they charge a fee to get in: there’s some cool stuff in there. You may even be inspired to create something the next time you have this miraculous opportunity to go it alone.
3. Explore the next town over, a different neighborhood.
Make a mini-adventure by visiting a nearby place you always forget about. Visiting this place, no matter how close it is to your house, will feel more exotic than it sounds if you’re stuck in a rut with a default coffee shop, lunch place, bar, etc. right around the corner from where you live. Just wander already.
4. Go see a matinee.
You’ll relax, feel like you’re saving money, and be thoroughly entertained all at the same time. The best part is, you don’t have to worry about whether other people want to see it or not. Bonus points for buying that obscene tub of popcorn and showing it who’s boss.
5. Treat yo’self.
Whether your thing is all-day pampering at a spa, loading up both arms at a used bookstore, transforming your kitchen into a laboratory of food experiments, drawing a boozy bath complete with candles and book/magazine, or taking the classic retail therapy excursion, indulge in the thing that un-muddles that brain of yours for once.
This is the most essential one. Some of us can’t handle silence or space for real thinking to happen. Thumbs are ever-glued to phone screens in order to avoid the slight discomfort of an empty moment. But, those of us with the natural impulse to turn to the screen are missing out on some serious introspection time. Without a few minutes of pure mind-wandering, you may miss out on your best ideas.
Or you may just be kidding yourself about how you want your life to look versus how it actually looks, and you’re trying to protect yourself from remembering that piercing fact. The only way to be honest and make a plan to bridge the gap of reality and personal goals is with a chance to experience the present moment. Free up your imagination, push past minor discomfort, and prepare to be surprised with the results.
Top takeaway: Being alone isn’t scary, but critical.
Self-confidence, self-reliance, a clear head, and a new perspective are just some of the reasons why solitude shouldn’t be shrugged off. Plus, when you’re surrounded by your people once again, you’ll be able to care for them better when you’ve restored your own sanity. It’s that whole put on your own oxygen mask first on a plane analogy, all over again. Either way, when this glorious time presents itself to you, soak it up in the unique, incredible way that only you can.