How to Make Your Alone Time Feel Luxurious as Hell

This article is part of SELF’s second annual Rest Week, an editorial package dedicated to doing less. If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that taking care of yourself, physically and emotionally, is impossible without genuine downtime. With that in mind, we’ll be publishing articles up until the new year to help you make a habit of taking breaks, chilling out, and slowing down. (And we’re taking our own advice: The SELF staff will be OOO during this time!) We hope to inspire you to take it easy and get some rest, whatever that looks like for you.

I’m currently single and working from home full-time so I’m alone a lot, and honestly? I don’t mind it. In fact, I kinda love it. As a kid, I could spend hours in my bedroom by my little self, belting out Mariah Carey’s entire Hero album, bossing my stuffed animals around, and putting on one-woman, no-audience dance shows. When I finally got my own (teeny tiny studio) apartment in NYC after living with (lovely) roommates for seven years, I was elated—no more anxiously wondering if I’d have the couch or kitchen to myself after a draining day at work and, most importantly, an endless supply of sweet, sweet silence.

Do I occasionally get bored? Feel lonely? Plunge into existential dread? Of course. But one of the things that helps me thoroughly enjoy my solitude is going out of my way to make it feel a little special—to romanticize it if you will. I’ve been wooing myself this way for years now and I highly recommend you do the same. Alone time can feel mundane at best and terrifying at worst (there’s a reason many of us try to avoid it, after all), but by being a bit more intentional about it, you can make your downtime feel like a real treat. So, without further ado, these are my best tips for taking your solo hangs to the next level.

Try to do just one thing at a time.

Being alone—with just my own thoughts, feelings, and underlying “what does it all mean?!” angst—can make the temptation to multitask extra strong: If the rom-com I’m streaming is reminding me that I don’t have a plaid-clad woodworker to make out with? Let’s just grab the ol’ phone and google how old every single actor in this movie is so I don’t have to think about the empty space on my couch! If I’m feeling a little antsy when I plop down on my bed to work on a crossword puzzle? Time to put on a podcast and hang out with my audio pals while I try to think of a five-letter word for “best”!

Yes, sometimes diverting your attention is necessary—most of us can’t practice mindfulness 24/7—but I’ve also learned that I ultimately feel much calmer when I resist the urge to distract myself from every uncomfortable feeling and try to do one thing at a time. When you’re fully present, you’re more engaged in whatever’s in front of you, time seemingly slows down, and you ultimately feel more fulfilled—talk about luxury.

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