When was the last time you were truly alone? Me time is hard to come by these days: we love to schedule our freedom right down to the very last minute. But solo activities can be a powerful way of living life on your own terms. When you try things alone, without the safety blanket of other people, you suddenly become aware of the world in a whole new way.
And, while some activities should always be done alone (note to the person clipping their nails on the no. 36 bus this morning), others become more fun in a solo context. Often, these are the very same things that we tend to do together, like watching Netflix or eating out. But tried alone, they take on a different dimension and value.
Here are 10 solo activities that are all about the good times – and yet they’re so underrated, you could easily let them pass you by:
You can keep your Netflix and chill. Anyone north of 30 knows the best way to relax is by actually *watching* a Netflix series – just you, the sofa and a vat of cheese-coated Nachos. Anyone else is merely a distraction: a reason to chew loudly, steal your duvet or randomly switch the volume. True Netflix dedication is a one-man (or woman) show.
A city ramble
When you set off to explore a new city, you’re far better off doing it alone. Not only does this mean you can set the rhythm of your adventure: no need to break a sweat, or dawdle around, if you don’t want to. But also, you’re more attuned to the many secrets a city holds. Alone, you can wander down any snicket or side alley that catches your attention. Hello, sweet freedom.
Dining in that hip new restaurant
Newsflash: it’s hard to get into the hottest place on the block when you arrive in a group of 15. Fly solo, however, and there will always be room for you somewhere. Plus, you can give your full attention to the main star of the show: the food. When you’re face-to-face with a fancypants Iberian platter – all loaded with chorizo, olives and Manchego cheese – banter is a hassle you just don’t need.
An early morning coffee
Quite aside from the fact that it’s hard to hold a conversation with anyone else pre-8am, a solo morning coffee is a pleasure all of its own. This is pure you time; to relax, reflect and catch your breath before the madness of the day kicks in. Straight up, frothy or with a dash of chocolate: grab your brew how you like it, and settle in for some delicious thinking time.
There are three great things about working out solo: 1.) You get to choose your tunes, without shame or fear of judgement – bring on the 80s power ballads. 2.) No-one flecking sweat at you. Enough said. 3.) Hitting the treadmill or running track alone means you resist the urge to compare and compete. It’s just you, alone, smashing it in exactly the way that you want to.
Finding creative focus
“Flow” is a deep state of focus and pleasure you find when you’re so involved in an activity, you lose all track of time. It might be anything from pottery to playing the piano, but really it’s about creativity and accessing that part of your mind that is so often distracted by modern life. Passive things like TV get in the way of flow, as do people: ideally, you need to be alone for this magic to unleash.
Let’s face it, swimming with others is often a painful experience. There’s always that guy who insists on soaking everyone with his over-vigorous take on front crawl. Or the old lady who swims at a snail’s pace in the middle of the lane, stubbornly blocking all attempts to overtake. Go wild instead, to a nearby pond or river. With buckets of space, and a natural landscape to reflect on, this is the kind of sensory rite that was made for being alone.
The idea of snuggling up to someone in bed at night might seem appealing, but the reality is often quite different. Studies show that our sleep is regularly disrupted by a raft of issues from snoring to kicking or fights over who sleeps where. If you really want to catch some quality shut-eye, you have to banish all others (adults, pets and little ones included) from your bed and enjoy it all alone.
You know the drill. It’s 3am, you’re three sheets to the wind and you have a sudden urge to rifle through your music collection over one last glass of the good stuff. Perhaps it’s Dire Straits you’re after, or a touch of Abba – but oh, wait! Here comes Beyoncé. There’s nothing big or clever about this behaviour, but sometimes it’s just essential. Needless to say, you’re better off alone; not least so your other half doesn’t have to find you sobbing in a heap over Cats the Musical.
Once upon a time, solo travel was the domain of the wayward or somewhat eccentric. But, no more. In this brave new world that we live in, anyone who’s anyone is reaping the rich delights that come with travelling alone. The headspace! The freedom! The adventure! There is no finer of discovering what you’re really made of. Get out there and make the most.