Disclosure: this page contains affiliate links to select partners. We receive a commission should you choose to make a purchase after clicking on them.
Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you learn how to enjoy being in your own company. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.
“I hate being alone,” said no introvert ever. There is no need to explain the importance of “me time” to your typical introvert. They are huge fans of solitude.
But you’re clearly not an introvert or you wouldn’t be reading this.
For you, the joys of spending time in your own company may not be quite as clear. After all, there’s no one to talk to and you’re all alone with your thoughts. Where’s the fun in that?
As you get older, you may have noticed that many of your friends are less inclined to socialize than before. Maybe it’s a legacy of the COVID pandemic that has made them more reluctant to go out. It could be that the responsibilities and changing priorities of adulting have made them want to stay indoors more now.
Perhaps it’s your body that is forcing you to slow down. Maybe you can’t go out partying, attend festivals, or even go for dinner as often as you used to without regretting it a little (or a lot) afterwards.
Of course, it might be much more simple than that. You might still be youthful and have lots of opportunities to socialize but would like to learn how to be content in yourself when the buzz of being around others dies down.
Whatever the case may be, you feel like everyone got the memo on solitude but you.
Now you want to discover if you’ve been missing out on something. If being alone with nothing and no one but yourself is as dull as it sounds, why are so many people doing it? With introverts guarding their solitude like it’s the secret to happiness, maybe they know something you don’t.
If you are ready to see for yourself what the fuss is all about, below are a few tips to help you learn how to enjoy your own company.
1. Understand the difference between being alone and being lonely.
Many people confuse being alone with being lonely. That’s why there’s such a tremendous push to always be surrounded by people or busy doing something. If you’re home alone on a Friday or Saturday night, some people assume it’s because you have no social life. Heaven forbid, you’re staying home because you want to rest or enjoy a night in.
Understanding the difference between being alone and being lonely will help you know which to cultivate and which to be concerned about. That way you can stop feeling embarrassed when others throw pitying looks your way when they learn you’re staying in for the night.
The difference between being alone and being lonely is twofold. One is the fact that being alone is a matter of choice. When you are alone, you choose to step away from social interactions. Instead of filling the void created by a lack of people around you, you choose quiet. You choose to prioritize yourself. There is no need to compromise your needs for the good of the group. No need to talk when you don’t want to. No need to be anything other than yourself. The second difference is that being alone refers only to the physical state of being by yourself. Simply, no one is around you.
Loneliness, on the other hand, is never a choice someone willingly makes. It’s a consequence of a person’s situation. Loneliness is an emotional state where you feel disconnected from other people. It can happen when you are alone or when you’re in a room full of people. You can be single and feel lonely, but also be married and feel lonely. It has nothing to do with who is around or what you are doing. But everything to do with how you feel.
As you will see, being alone has many benefits, while being lonely can lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems, and increased stress.
2. Change your mindset.
Human beings are social creatures. We thrive when we’re in relationships or connecting with other people. But you know what else is beneficial to us and our mental health? Solitude.
Now, this may be a little hard to believe because over the years we’ve been taught to think that enjoying our own company or preferring to stay indoors is creepy or weird. All the popular kids in school tended to be pretty extroverted. Even at work, the people others gravitate to the most are typically quite outgoing. Not to mention, you can turn down invites to socialize only so many times before people label you a snob or recluse.
The pressure to socialize is so intense, especially during your teenage years through to your twenties, that going out becomes a compulsion. You start going out, not because you want to, but because it’s expected of you.
Being alone with your thoughts gets a bad rep. As many benefits as being social has on our wellbeing, so also does being alone. Some benefits of solitude include:
- Increased empathy
- Increased productivity
- Greater creativity
- Increased mental clarity
- Sense of autonomy
- Absence of pressure
- Improved concentration
Some therapists believe that when you spend all of your time with your social group, it actually limits your ability to view situations and perspectives outside that of your group. When you spend time alone, you are better able to think on your own and form your own opinions.
Without the distraction of other people, you can concentrate more on the work at hand. Not only does solitude help you get things done faster, but it also helps you deliver better quality work. In fact, studies show that while open-plan offices facilitate better communication between co-workers, they actually reduce productivity. Due to the uncontrollable noise and loss of privacy, many people find these open-plan offices to be more disruptive.
Being alone with nothing but your thoughts to entertain you lets your mind wander and daydream. This free flow of thought without outside influences lets you focus inward, thereby boosting your creativity. If you have a challenge that needs a creative solution or a spark of creativity for your next artistic or unique endeavor, solitude is likely the tool you need for inspiration to sprout.
Have you ever gone through an experience that was hurtful or difficult but you didn’t know how you felt because you hadn’t processed it? Sitting with your thoughts gives you a chance to process your feelings. When thoughts won’t stop flying through our brains, time alone helps our brains to shut down and recharge. This, in turn, helps us to clear our minds, focus, and think more clearly.
When you’re alone, you can better focus on your wants and needs. You can tune into what you are feeling and thinking. We can’t always do this in a group setting. When we’re with others, we’re influenced by their actions or words. But when you are by yourself, you are the focus of you. Your interests are the priority. Alone, you can learn more about yourself and even reflect on past experiences and interactions with other people.
In simple terms, autonomy means self-rule or self-governance. This refers to a person’s ability to act on his/her own values and interests while also making choices concerning the direction of their own actions. When you are not distracted by the opinion or input of others, you can figure out what your values and interests are and act in line with them. You can effectively self-regulate.
You are free from the pressure to conform to the group consensus or societal pressure when you’re alone. When you are by yourself, you’re free to be yourself. You can be as weird as you want to be without worrying about what others think or feel. Be who you want. Do what you like. There is no pressure to do anything else. Rather than the pressure of worrying or focusing on what others want or are doing, you can focus on your own pursuits.
When you remove the noise and distraction of other people, you are better able to concentrate on the task at hand. This can help you reduce your turnaround time on tasks and improve the quality of what you deliver. The increased concentration and focus can help improve your problem-solving skills and creativity.
There are many more benefits that can be realized when spending more time with yourself. For example, enjoying time alone by yourself also helps improve your relationship with others.
Solitude, then, is not as bad as it has been made out to be. It certainly isn’t something to be feared or ashamed of. Changing your views on enjoying your own company will help you glean the benefits of this practice without feeling guilty or ashamed.
3. Make a plan for “me time.”
If you are just learning how to enjoy being alone, you must take it one step at a time. Otherwise, you’ll be bored out of your mind. When you’re the type of person who is always surrounded by other people, the silence of solitude can be deafening. It will take a bit of time for you to start enjoying the quiet of being alone.
So, make a plan for your “me time.” What would you like to do that you normally don’t get a chance to do? Is there a restaurant that you’ve been dying to visit but can’t find anyone to accompany you? Go by yourself! Would you like to watch a movie that your social group would not be interested in? Watch it by yourself! Do something you’ve always wanted to try but never could.
You could also plan to do the things you enjoy. Are you an outdoor person? Why not go for a hike or have a picnic at a local park? Do you like to read? This is the perfect time to pick up that book you’ve been meaning to tackle.
This time can be used to do literally anything. That’s what is so great about it—the choice is yours. But make a plan for it so you’re not stuck watching the paint dry on your walls.
4. Turn off social media.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t take social media with you. Turn it off. This time is about reconnecting with yourself and your interests. It’s not about mindlessly scrolling through social media or being distracted by the message notifications that pop up on your phone.
Social media will only distract you from focusing on yourself. Think of this time as a date you’ve been looking forward to having. After crushing on this person for so long, you finally worked up the nerve to ask them out, or they finally asked you out. The last thing you’re going to do is spend that time on your phone. You’ll give them your undivided attention. If you can do that for someone else that may or may not be in your life long term, why can’t you do it for yourself?
Treat yourself right and give yourself your undivided attention.
5. Check in with yourself.
You know when you are greeted for the first time during the day and politely asked, “How are you?” You’most likely paste a smile on your face and respond with an equally polite, “Fine, thank you.” It doesn’t matter if you’re having the worst day of your entire life. Your response will usually always be, “Fine, thank you.”
The thing about solitude is that you don’t have to pretend when you’re by yourself. There’s no need to act as if everything is ok when your world is falling apart. You already know it’s not, so the pressure to keep up appearances isn’t there. In solitude, you have the freedom to say everything as it is.
Grab your journal and ask yourself, “How are you doing?” Pour your heart out to yourself. If you’re feeling like crap, say so. Talk about how your partner is getting on your very last nerve. Rant about how much you hate your job (or love it, if that’s how you feel). Above all, be honest with yourself about how you’re doing.
6. Make a gratitude list.
After pouring out the good, the bad, and the ugly into your journal, make a gratitude list. Write down every little insignificant and significant thing that you are grateful for.
Is it that morning cup of coffee that you enjoy at your desk each day? Write it down. Could it be the way your son or daughter screams excitedly when you arrive home after work? Put it on the list. Maybe it’s something simple, like the scent of flowers or the chirping of birds that wakes you up in the mornings.
Anything and everything that makes you smile, happy, or feel better is put on your gratitude list. This might seem like a quick activity, especially if you think your life is pretty crappy. But when you get really into this process of reviewing your life, you’ll find you have a lot to be grateful for.
It is a good idea to seek professional help from one of the therapists at BetterHelp.com as professional therapy can be highly effective in helping you to identify and work through the issues that make you reluctant to spend time alone.
7. Take a solo trip.
Have you ever wanted to go to Guatemala but had no one to go with you? Or were you interested in visiting Vietnam, but no one else was? Maybe your dream destination is Seychelles, but none of your friends or family members seem to share that desire.
If you’ve been daydreaming about traveling to an exotic locale, you are not alone. Now more than ever, people are embracing traveling by themselves. They are not trying to convince friends or family members to join them, nor waiting for the right time when everyone’s schedules are free. There’s no irritating back-and-forth discussions regarding what to do with their travel partner. They are just packing up their bags and going. Alone.
Traveling alone not only saves you the headache of having to compromise with other people on what to do and where to go, but it also gives you a chance to immerse yourself in the culture and meet new people. You get to see the world on your own terms.
8. Spoil yourself.
When was the last time you treated yourself to something special? If you’re like many people, you probably can’t remember the last time you did something special for yourself. Perhaps you think you don’t even deserve anything special.
Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. You’re doing a lot better than you think. And you deserve a little celebration.
So, ask yourself, “What can I do for myself today?” Think of one thing that is within your control, that you can do for yourself today, that will make you happy. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t even have to cost a penny.
But it needs to make you happy. It could be taking a long bubble bath after work or a walk in the park. Maybe you could read a book or declutter and decorate a space that you can use as your relaxation spot. It could be something artsy, like painting a picture, even if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body.
Whatever you decide to do to spoil yourself, make sure it is something that truly makes you happy.
9. Take yourself out on a date.
You have a date that you’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It’s certain to be a fun time because you share the same interests, you really like the person, and your plans for the evening are activities you’ve been looking forward to doing. This date has the potential to be the best date you’ve ever been on. And the best part is it’s with yourself.
The date will be free of any awkward silences. There will be no need to worry about your date being boring. Since the date was planned by you, for you, it’s sure to be awesome.
Take yourself out on a date that you wish someone else would take you out on. Get dressed. Go watch a play or bungee jumping or wine tasting. Spend the evening focusing on yourself.
Treat yourself the way you wish your significant other would treat you.
10. Have a fancy meal alone.
Depending on where you live, there could be a fancy restaurant nearby. If you live in a metropolitan area, there’s probably a new restaurant opening pretty regularly. Take yourself out to a fancy restaurant and have a nice meal.
If this is a little intimidating for you to do alone, go during off-peak periods, like during the day. Definitely don’t go on Fridays, Saturdays, and usually on Sundays. Those are prime date or family dinner times when restaurants tend to be packed.
Be prepared for a slight pause or a weird look when you tell the host/hostess that you’d like a table for one. Since many people don’t know about the joys of solitude, you’re bound to catch them off guard with your request to dine alone. Ignore their ignorance and enjoy your fancy solo meal.
You don’t have to share anything on your plate nor wait for the other people at your table to decide what they want to eat. If you’re the one who usually takes a long time to choose, you don’t have to feel rushed to order. This meal is all about you.
11. Take a staycation.
Who wouldn’t want to be whisked away for a spur-of-the-moment weekend break? Imagine getting home from work on Friday, your bags packed and hotel reservations made in a quiet place a few towns away. Throw in a massage, fishing on the lake, or a relaxing swim in the pool and you’ll feel as though you are in paradise.
Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. Do it for yourself. Pack your bags and go on a staycation. Go to an area of your city or country you’ve never been to before and act like a tourist.
If you prefer, stay indoors and use the hotel’s facilities to have a relaxing trip. Fresh towels that you didn’t wash. The food you didn’t have to buy from the grocery store and cook yourself. In a clean room you don’t have to tidy. Take a hot shower or soothing bubble bath, throw on a freshly washed bathrobe, and call it a night.
You may not be able to afford a trip out of the country right now. But you might be able to swing a weekend stay at a B&B that is two towns over.
12. Beautify your space.
Look around your space. If you are in your office or at home, take a minute to observe your surroundings. As you take it all in, what feelings does your space evoke in you? Do you feel happy to be there? Are you feeling relaxed? Is your space conducive to your mental health?
If it’s not, it’s time to beautify your space. It might just require you to clean up the clutter that you’ve been amassing over the years. Get some tips from Marie Kondo and get brutal with decluttering. You might want to redecorate so that your space reflects what makes you happy. If you hate the color of your space, change it.
When you get to the office in the morning, does the pile of documents on your desk make you feel depressed? Create a filing system. Put up pictures of people and things that make you smile. A picture of a loved one is sometimes enough to improve your mood, especially in the office when you’re having a bad day.
Do whatever you can to make your environment more conducive for you.
13. Answer the question: What would make me happy?
Life is too short to be miserable. We’ve probably heard variations of this statement throughout our lives. While we may theoretically believe it, we rarely put it into practice.
Ask yourself, are you happy? Truly happy with your life?
If you’re not, answer the question, “What would make me happy?” This question will require some quiet introspection. Because, depending on how long you’ve been unhappy with your life, you might not even know what happiness means for you.
If you are always surrounded by people, you might not realize that different people define happiness differently. Your group of friends may find happiness in traveling around the world, but for you, happiness is a small farm surrounded by nature and animals. Define what happiness is for you.
Then figure out how to shift your life from what it is presently to what you’ve envisioned. If happiness requires you to earn more money, then how can you improve your skills to increase your earning potential? Maybe happiness is being surrounded by children all day, but you work in an office with adults. How can you transition your career from what it is now to one that involves children?
A happier you benefits everyone around you. Don‘t feel guilty about changing your life to improve your general wellbeing. And you are sure to enjoy being by yourself more when you are in a better place mentally.
14. Try yoga.
To the inexperienced, yoga might seem like an easy form of exercise. How hard could it be to stretch your body, right? Well… let’s just say it’s not as easy as it looks.
Controlling your breath while relaxing your muscles as you’re bent in various positions you’ve never been in before is far more difficult than one would think. There is so much that you need to think about as you move from pose to pose that your mind is forced to concentrate on what you are doing. You must be attuned to how your body is feeling, otherwise you run the risk of overstretching and injuring yourself.
Between breathing and stretching, your racing mind relaxes, and you focus on yourself, how your body is feeling, and on your breath. Before you know it, your body is relaxed and your mind is calm.
15. Practice mindfulness techniques.
We do so many things on autopilot that we rarely enjoy the beauty in the things around us. From one errand to another, one responsibility to the next, we’re always in a rush to somewhere or from somewhere. There is no time to appreciate what’s happening around us.
That’s what mindfulness techniques help us do. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps us to slow down and live in the moment. It helps us take our minds off negative thinking or rumination over our problems and challenges. And without those difficult thoughts, our minds can be still and calm, making time by ourselves far more enjoyable.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness techniques. You can do it when you’re:
Instead of scarfing down your food in a rush, slow down and pay attention to the sensations involved while you’re eating. Pay attention to the taste and texture of the food, the sounds of the environment where you’re eating, and even the smell of the food. Focus on truly enjoying and experiencing the meal.
Find a quiet place to walk a short distance, perhaps 10 to 20 feet, and walk slowly. As you’re walking, think about the experience of walking. What sensations are you feeling as you stand and move? When you get to the end of the 10- to 20-foot stroll, turn around and do it again, keeping your mind on what you feel.
As you sit comfortably, make sure your back is straight, your feet are flat on the floor, with your hands are in your lap. Breathe through your nose and focus on the way your breath moves in and out of your body. If any physical sensation or thought interrupts your focus on your breath, make note of it and then return your focus to your breath.
Use mindfulness techniques to stop the thoughts from flying through your head.
16. Make it a habit.
Make spending time alone part of your routine. Doing so regularly will help you become more comfortable in your own company. Eventually, you’ll even enjoy the spurts of time where you get to reconnect with yourself and reboot.
Enjoying your own company is a gift that everyone should try to cultivate. It gives you a chance to check in with yourself. You can never be bored because you know how to entertain yourself. Best yet, you get to know yourself better.
Solitude allows you to be your own best friend.
17. Speak to a therapist.
If you find that you struggle to enjoy your own company to the point where you actively avoid spending any time alone, you may wish to speak to a mental health professional to get additional help and advice.
That sort of aversion to solitude can stem from a variety of things such as issues around self-esteem and self-worth, fears and phobias, anxiety, and chronic overthinking. And these issues can have a variety of root causes that will need to be identified, unpacked, and dealt with if you are to reach a point where you enjoy being by yourself.
BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.
You may also like:
- How To Be Happy Alone: 10 Tips On Living And Being By Yourself
- How To Be Emotionally Independent And Stop Relying On Others For Happiness
- How To Deal With Loneliness And Cope With Feelings Of Isolation