As we all come to terms with a new normal amid the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, staying at home is presenting unique challenges for different people. Some of us find ourselves with unprecedented parenting challenges, like homeschooling or working from home while watching toddlers, while others may feel isolated while social distancing far from family.
No matter your situation, it’s important to take time for yourself in a way that’s meaningful to you. Alone time can be psychologically healing if you look at it in the right light. Solitude can spark creativity, give your perspective or rest your mind.
According to an online survey called The Rest Test, the majority of activities people found restful were done alone, but those projects differed greatly from person to person. People often have their go-to activities for enjoying their own company. But, if after weeks of social distancing, you find yourself bored or struggling for new ways to spend your solo time, here are some ideas for new ways to spend time alone.
1. Pick up a paintbrush.
You don’t have to be a present-day da Vinci to enjoy painting. Grab a glass of water, some paint and a canvas or paper. Your stress will lessen with every stroke. Not sure where to start? Online video tutorials can help.
2. Bake a batch of cookies.
Whether you’re a first-time baker or a seasoned pro, sifting, mixing and baking just makes you feel good. It requires your full attention, and when you get into a rhythm, baking can foster similar psychological benefits as meditation. Mix things up with a new cookie recipe if you’re looking for challenge.
3. Listen to music.
It doesn’t matter if it’s on vinyl, a cassette or streamed from Spotify. Studies find that turning on your favorite music can boost your mood and help you de-stress. Plus, while you’re social distancing, many of your favorite artists and music venues are streaming concerts directly to your home.
4. Write a letter to someone you love.
Try putting down your phone and, instead, putting pen to paper. Not only will you bring the recipient joy, but writing by hand can also stimulate creativity. The rhythmic movement of writing makes you slow down and enjoy the process.
5. Treat yourself to a DIY spa.
There’s nothing like a facial mask to make you feel refreshed, and you’d be shocked at what ordinary pantry items can do for your skin. Think: honey with just a splash of cider vinegar or lemon juice. Put on your fluffiest robe and head to the kitchen.
6. Start a scrapbook.
Take a trip down memory lane and have yourself a “crafternoon” at the same time. Looking back at happy times will warm your heart, while designing page layouts and cutting page accessories will give you a meditative focus. Plus, trying to remember the age of a friend or your kids in a particular photo can be a bit of a brain workout.
7. Let a celebrity read you a story.
You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the pure nostalgic delight of a celebrity reading your favorite children’s book. These days, everyone from Jennifer Garner and Reese Witherspoon to Frozen’s Josh Gad is taking to social media to help entertain and educate kids who are out of school early. Listen in, and you’ll be transported back in time.
8. Rearrange your closet.
Rearranging your wardrobe can help you home in on what you truly love, want or need. While purging unwanted items can bring a big sense of relief, it’s not necessarily all about getting rid of clothes. Reorganizing by season, color or cut can help provide a fresh perspective, and tidying up will make you feel better about yourself and your surroundings.
9. Grab your garden shears.
Get outside and get to work. Frustrated? Take it out on the dirt; dig a hole and plant something pretty. Need to feel a sense of accomplishment? Grab those pesky weeds, and get a garden bed back in order. All in all, being outside and among nature while gardening can do wonders to soothe your mind.
10. Learn to meditate.
While there are many different approaches to meditation, training the mind can have far-reaching benefits for stress and personal connection. If you’re just getting started, apps like Headspace or Calm provide hundreds of guided meditations, varying in length and focus.
11. Pick up that old instrument.
Have an old guitar lying around, or is dust collecting on that keyboard you’ve been meaning to play for years? Brush up on your skills. Not only does musical training improve long-term memory and brain development, but it’s a rich and fulfilling experience.
12. Paint your nails.
Even if you’re a regular at your local nail salon, there’s nothing quite like lighting a candle, turning on your favorite show and sitting down with your favorite shade of pink. The simple act of taking time out to care for yourself can be therapeutic. Plus, you just might be transported back in time to the joys of high school slumber parties.
13. Try an online class.
Online instruction isn’t just for college students. Keep your sense of curiosity, and try learning for the sake of learning—no grades, no pressure. Right now, all Ivy League universities are offering hundreds of online courses for free.
14. Write an entry in your journal.
We’re living through an important moment in history, and as daunting as the daily news and uncertainty of it all can be, journaling your thoughts and experiences will be especially meaningful to look back on years down the road. Plus, the physical process of putting your emotions and perspective down on paper can be extremely cathartic.
15. Learn how to cross-stitch.
This age-old craft involves patterns and counting, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find an at-home activity that is quite as relaxing. Spend a sunny afternoon stitching on the porch, or enjoy the sound of rain on the roof while you tackle a pattern on a stormy day. Either way, you’ll spark a little creativity—and potentially have a gift for a friend the next time you can get out of the house.
16. Finish a puzzle.
Unwind with a challenge for your mind. Whether it’s a crossword, riddle or jigsaw puzzle, concentrating on a tangible challenge that demands determination will push you to think outside the box. You’ll feel especially accomplished when you finish, assuming you’re not missing the last piece of a thousand-piece puzzle.
17. Revisit your favorite books.
We’re always up for a good new read, but there’s nothing like revisiting a classic. Shop around your own bookshelf and fall into the pages of one of your favorites, even if you’ve read it a hundred times.
18. Practice your shading.
Coloring books aren’t just for kids these days. Sharpen your colored pencils and connect with your inner artist, limited skills required. You’ll be surprised how shading in a page of flowers can really improve your mood.
19. Get pretty with a new hair tutorial.
The best time to try out a new hairdo is when you don’t have a destination or deadline to get out the door. Learn how to French braid, try some curling iron tricks, or see if you can curl your hair with your hair straightener.
20. Soak in the tub.
Grab a book, run a bubble bath and just relax. Amp up the ambiance with a candle or two, but this simple joy is just that: simple.
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