How to enjoy time by yourself
The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it. Moliere
Time is the greatest gift you can give someone but every now and then, you may notice your partner in your relationship needs to spend some time away from you. It may be space following an argument or it may be that they need to go away on business. So when you’re asked to give someone space that you love to spend your time with, how do you start filling in the blank canvas of your life? This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can maximise your time by yourself – whether it’s for a day, a week, a month, a year or a lifetime.
1. Know what you like
It’s actually quite a challenge to know what you like! Every six months I take one day out to be completely mindful to work out what is making me happy and figure out what I enjoy. In a fast-paced world, it’s very easy to lose track of this. Keep a small notebook and pen handy, and every time something resonates with you, and you feel happy, write it down – so you don’t forget! This is how I figured out what I liked and it gave me a focus point for where to direct my spare time in order to soothe any anxiety about being on my own. My list included: skim strawberry milkshakes, looking over the water and listening to music I can relate to. Notice each thing is something that I can do or have on my own that no one else can influence around me? That’s what you need to find and consider the simplest pleasures.
2. Consider how you’re feeling
Sometimes when you are alone, it’s nice to stop and really consider how you are feeling, particularly if you’re feeling isolated, lonely and as though no one cares. If you aren’t feeling ok, now is the time to consider that and start looking at what you need to do to proactively make yourself feel better. What are you feeling? Angry? Sad? Hungry? Tired? Getting connected with how you are feeling is important to avoid trouble behaviours such as over-indulging and over-spending. Sit in a quiet place and ask yourself how you feel, then ask yourself why until you understand fully what you are feeling and why you are feeling the way you do.
3. Plan your time carefully
Most people have a rough plan when they catch up with their friends as to what they will be doing with their time together – whether it’s going out for drinks or dinner or watching a movie etc. What makes catching up with yourself any different? When taking some time out by yourself, it’s a good idea to plan ahead to avoid too many feelings of isolation – particularly if you’re on your own due to a separation or relationship breakdown. A good thing to do may be to go for a walk or participate in some self-soothing exercising.
4. Soothe yourself
Knowing your favourite self-soothing activities is important so you can soothe any anxiety quickly. These may include: phoning a friend or relative, daydreaming, meditating, taking a bath or shower, helping someone else, crying, shopping, cleaning, go for a drive, going for a long walk somewhere there is nice scenery (e.g. by the beach), listen to music, organise things, write in your diary, plan a party or outing with friends, go to the gym, go to sleep, spend time with your pet, cook, eat, reassess your goals, plan your future, sit in the sun, play a sport with friends, go to a concert or to the theatre, get a massage, play an instrument, read something inspiring (possibly Happiness Weekly), go to stand-up comedy, contact someone from your past, volunteer, write a letter, pick flowers, visit a pet store, watch tv or a movie, go perfume shopping, light a candle, take a bubble bath etc.
5. Work out who you are
When I’m on my own, with a blank canvas before me, the first thing I like to do is figure out who I am and who I have become with the external circumstances around me. I then assess who I want to be – figure out how far off track I have become (or if I’m still on track), decide if I like my current self and consider whether I need to change and if so, what I need to do to change. The best way to entirely enjoy time by yourself is by making the time all about you and spending each moment as present and fully as possible. Just as you wouldn’t interrupt someone if they have requested space, try to avoid letting anyone interrupt your time on your own – this time is important for reassessing and recharging.