After an official week of practicing social distancing due to the coronavirus, many people are starting to feel that cabin fever. If you’re in a city like I am, your natural environment is being surrounded by other people. Many people across the country live alone and are having problems staying positive while being by themselves at home. The good news is that today a master introvert (me) will be teaching you how to be happy by yourself. .
Being Lonely and Being Alone are Different
The first thing to know when learning how to be happy by yourself is that being alone and being lonely are two very different things. You can be lonely on the busiest street in the world. You can be alone and be in pure bliss.
If you’re an extrovert, you probably run in the opposite direction at the thought of being by yourself. If you’re an introvert like myself, you’re probably looking for a sign up sheet. Believe it or not, both introverts and extroverts can benefit from spending time alone.
Get Off Social Media
The next thing to know when learning how to be happy by yourself is how to live without social media. Getting off social media means that you’ll truly be alone.
It is important to disconnect from the world sometimes. It’s a chance to think for yourself without having news, politics, and other people’s opinions getting in the way. Our brains can only take so much information overload before we start feeling the side effects.
If you’re a millennial or older, can you remember the time before social media? What did you do with your day?
Did you cook at home more? Were you reading more books? Did you spend more time outside? I bet whatever the memory is, it’s better than remembering yourself looking at your phone all the time.
If you think about it, social media is basically just a filter over everyone’s life, yet their viewers see it as reality. Those girls that were popular in high school posting on instagram in their perfect outfits and always out at brunch are probably exhausted.
I’ve actually seen a group of women walk into a nightclub, buy drinks at the bar, take a video of themselves dancing and laughing, post the video, and leave the club! Why?! And who are they posting for anyway?
Why do we need to get likes on our photographs and memories? Are we genuinely having a good time? Or are we doing it for popularity? It’s time to stop getting validation for your existence from everyone else and start looking to yourself for it instead.
Hang Out with Your Dog
Just because you’re avoiding people doesn’t mean that you have to avoid your pets! I may be spending a lot of time away from people but I have two huge, fuzzy puppies to hang out with all day.
Take your dog for a walk, go to the park, or play fetch in the backyard. Your true best friends will love that you took all the people out of your schedule just to spend time with them.
Stop Thinking About What Others Are Doing
If you want to learn how to be happy by yourself, this is the most critical step. I remember when I was in my college years that I used to have major FOMO (fear of missing out).
If my friends went out without me while I stayed home and studied, I always felt like they were having the best time and I was missing out on awesome memories.
Eventually, I realized that pretty much the same thing happens every weekend and I wasn’t missing anything spectacular. (Getting dressed, standing in cold lines to bars, someone getting sick, etc.)
I started focusing more on my school work and personal goals and all my friends actually became jealous of me! Since they had a bad case of FOMO as well, they slacked on their work, and their grades suffered.
One of my friends even blew her interview for a company she dreamed of working for her entire life. So make time for yourself and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing.
Set Aside Time to Be Bored
When was the last time you actually had nothing to do? Nothing to watch or read. No one to spend countless hours with just talking. I bet it’s been quite a long time.
Since smartphones started becoming a part of everyday life back in the early 2010’s, we have had our boredom replaced with endless newsfeeds.
Not to mention that many of our news feeds are packed with bad news, subconsciously putting us in a bad mood for no good reason. Boredom breeds creativity, while distractions cause procrastination and long term stress.
Pick up a Pen
Two things that are great to have when learning how to be happy by yourself are a pen and a notebook. If you haven’t spent time alone in quite some time, you may feel restless or uncomfortable in the beginning.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings are a great way to deal with this new situation and an easy way to do self therapy.
After getting into the ritual of spending some time alone each week/day, you can go back to the beginning of the notebook and see how your mind has changed for the better since learning how to be at peace in solitude.
Spend Time in Nature
Another thing that you can do when learning how to be happy by yourself is to spend time in nature. Before cities, humans spent millions of years living in nature. Practice taking in the sounds, smells of nature and you’ll find that it brings you peace and decreases stress from everyday life.
Take a hike through your local state park and take pictures of anything that you find captivating. If you’re in NY, you can go to my favorite park, Elizabeth A Morton National Wildlife Refuge on Long Island.
The wildlife tends to like humans there. Just make sure to bring bird seed for all the birds that will be landing on the palm of your hand, and hand sanitizer for afterwords!
Check Your Health
While you are spending time alone, ask yourself when the last time was that you really took a good look at your mental and physical health.
Do you feel comfortable when you look in the mirror? Why or why not? How are your energy levels? Do you feel like you have less energy than you did when you were younger?
How’s your mental health? Are you generally upbeat on the average day or do you seem to feel the glass is half empty?
Take some time to write down your health situation and make a list of new habits that you want to focus on to improve your overall health. Spending time alone sometimes is actually beneficial to your health, so you’re already off to a good start!
Do What You Want
Last but definitely not least, the best way to learn how to be happy by yourself is to do whatever makes you feel good! Watch your favorite funny movie or take a walk on the beach.
Get an adult coloring book and color for the first time since elementary school. Write your autobiography. Whatever you do, just make sure that you skip out on the social activities. (Brunch doesn’t count in this exercise.)
If you’re stuck on ideas, check out my article on self care ideas for introverts and empaths.
Spending time alone can increase empathy, productivity, and creativity. It also helps build mental strength and gives you time to get to know yourself.
Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Do you have trouble spending time by yourself? Or do you feel you can only truly be yourself when you’re alone? Let me know in the comments below!