There's a reason Hollywood loves to make movies about independent women (Eat, Pray Love and Wild, for example): They're relatable, moving, inspiring, and not afraid to do things on their own. But you don't have to wait for a life-changing experience to do something solo.
In a study by the British Journal of Psychology, scientists found that highly intelligent people became less satisfied the more time they spent with friends. In other words, spending some quality time with yourself is good for your overall well-being and results in greater life satisfaction. When you're doing something solo, you can go at your own pace, think and reflect, discover new things about yourself, and improve your self-esteem.
With all of the relationships you may have in your life, it probably seems impossible to get alone time — but it's important to make room for some. Here are 39 things every woman should do alone at least once in her life:
1. Go to a concert.
If an artist you love is playing a venue near you, buy yourself a ticket even if no one else wants to tag along. Attending a show on your own allows you the freedom to plan your night the way you want. Don't want to see the opener? Arrive late. Did he already sing all your favorite songs? Go home early. Should you sing along to the music at the top of your lungs? Absolutely, especially if you're surrounded by strangers.
2. Visit a museum.
Strolling at your own pace through the different exhibits you've been dying to see on your own can be liberating. With no one around to rush you through, you can take your time to appreciate the artwork around you without hearing, "Mom, can we leave now?"
3. Gaze at the stars.
An open, star-studded sky works well to put things into perspective. Grab a blanket and head to a spot where you'll have the best visibility. Instead of running through your to-do list for the next day or worrying about the fight you had with your significant other, try to unwind by focusing on the beauty above you instead.
4. Teach yourself a new instrument.
Have you always wanted to learn to play guitar? The violin? The flute? Here's your chance. Check your local thrift store to see if you can buy an instrument secondhand, then head to YouTube for free, beginner-level lessons.
5. People watch.
Grab a coffee and head to a place in town that gets heavy foot traffic — your favorite park, your local art museum, or even the cafe you like to frequent. Let your imagination run wild as you concoct backstories for the people walking past you.
6. Go kayaking.
Considering there's only room for one person in most kayaks, this water activity is perfect to do on your own — as long as you consider yourself an experienced kayaker, that is. If you've been paddling out onto lakes with your friends for years, consider spending a few hours exploring alone. Kayaking on your own is empowering: You'll learn to trust yourself, your body, and your decisions.
7. Wake up early to watch the sunrise.
Everyone deserves to start the day with something beautiful. Whether you hike to a local vista that gets a great view of the horizon or just kick back in your backyard with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, taking some time to be alone with your thoughts can be the perfect way to prepare for a long day.
8. Learn a new language.
Exercise your brain muscles by teaching yourself to speak a language you've always been interested in learning. There are so many resources available online that vary in intensity, depending on how much time you have to dedicate. For instance, Rosetta Stone offers in-depth learning software in 24 different languages that range in subscription length, from six months to two years, while Duolingo's free app offers bite-sized lessons daily in your language of choice.
9. Lay on the beach.
Spend a glorious morning with your toes in the sand and your nose buried in a book — without your kids. Though you may love frolicking in the waves with them, you'll benefit from taking some time away to soak up the sun and recharge without stressfully scanning the shoreline to make sure they're safe.
10. Try a new workout class.
Whether it's cycling, kickboxing, or HIIT, chances are there's a group exercise class you've been dying to try. Though you're showing up solo, you'll experience the evidence-based benefits of working out with a group, like the positive effects it has on social bonding, pain tolerance, and athletic performance. What does this mean? More calories burned for you, and a check off of your bucket list.
11. Experiment in the kitchen.
Some of us are born chefs, while others struggle to whip up tasty meals in the kitchen. Cooking — alone — gives you the time to experiment with different recipes and sharpen your skills, and you won't have your significant other complaining about burnt bread in the background.
12. Have a spa day.
While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of getting a massage, this form of self-care may be helpful for anxiety, depression, and headaches, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
13. Get organized.
If your basement is practically unrecognizable beneath a mountain toys, laundry, and cleaning supplies, it's time to get organized. Clutter can lead to stress and impact your productivity, so make sure you give yourself some alone time to clean up. Plus, it's way more meditative of a task than you realize.
Speaking of meditation ... there's more evidence now than ever that meditation is beneficial for your mental and physical health. According to Everyday Health, meditation can improve concentration, reduce stress, prevent cognitive decline, and keep your brain healthy and alert as you age.
15. Travel solo.
Take a cue from Eat, Pray, Love and plan a solo trip. At the end of the movie, Julia Roberts finds the love of her life because she spent the first part of the movie traveling the world alone in order to find herself. It doesn't matter how far you go (try a staycation!) or what you do while you're there, as long as you challenge yourself a bit, create some memories, and have a blast while doing it.
16. Take up a new hobby.
Life is short and now is the time to do that thing you've always dreamed of doing, whether it's knitting, photography, or gardening. Plus, when you have something fun to look forward to, you'll be motivated to plan more alone time for yourself in the future.
17. Take yourself to a really nice dinner.
Eating dinner in a restaurant by yourself is a real test of confidence. Yes, it's intimidating to dine alone, but it's also the ultimate way to let the world know that you're a confident lady who can do anything by herself.
18. Create a list of life goals.
It's not about putting pressure on yourself to check off the boxes, it's about stretching yourself to go further than you ever thought you could.
19. Go to the movies.
Get away from the stress of work, family, and the business of everyday life by escaping to a movie theater where you can get lost in the story.
20. Read a book.
If your New Year's resolution is to spend some more time reading, add reading 10 pages a day to your nighttime routine once the kids fall asleep.
21. Take a class.
Whether it's art, a musical instrument, or a dance class, trying something new will help you learn new skills, make friends, and gain confidence — it's that simple.
22. Take on a home improvement project.
The thrill you'll get when you walk past that upcycled piece of furniture, freshly painted room, or remodeled outdoor patio knowing you did it all by yourself will be so worth it — you'll feel ready to tackle whatever's next.
23. Get lost.
Take a drive, go on a walk, or get lost in an inspiring book. Literally or metaphorically, this is what life's about. And when you do find your way home (you always will), you'll feel like an entirely new person — stronger, wiser, and self-sufficient.
24. Bake a cake — and eat it.
Usually you eat cake with a group for a special occasion. But this time, make a cake — and eat a big slice of it — for no other reason than to celebrate yourself. And don't spend one second feeling guilty about it!
25. Figure out your mantra.
Every woman needs one. It's that phrase you say over and over in your head when you need to summon some courage. Here's a powerful one to consider: "Don't be scared to walk alone, don't be scared to like it." (Yes, those are song lyrics.)
26. Take some time to reflect on religion.
Whether it's in a church or under a tree in your backyard, ponder faith, religion, God, and the purpose of life — and do some digging so you know you're forming your own opinion without input from family, friends, or peers. You can't really own your opinions unless it's something you choose to believe, verses just believing in something because you were raised by those beliefs.
27. Take a long drive by yourself.
Blast your favorite tunes and drive off into the sunset. There's something so relaxing and thrilling about driving alone, with the windows down and the music up.
28. Take a hike.
Surround yourself by nature and go somewhere tranquil to be alone with your thoughts. You'll feel rejuvenated and inspired.
29. Relax in your own house.
Being alone at home is probably a pretty rare occurrence. Between kids running around, family stopping by, and your husband blasting the TV, wouldn't it be nice to be alone in your house for once? Send the family off to do something fun together, unwind with a glass of wine, and put your phone on silent.
30. Treat yourself.
Sometimes we get caught up in the business of work and family obligations that decades can go by in a split second — and we may realize that we never had certain experience we wanted to have. Perhaps it's that family heritage trip you've always wanted to take, or going to a Celine Dion concert. Make it a point to treat yourself to something you've always wanted, and don't ask for permission. You work hard for everyone in your life. You've earned it.
Turn off your phone, computer, TV, and everything else so that you can simply be alone with your thoughts. In fact, this is something you should do regularly by yourself.
32. Do all the embarrassing things you like to do when no one is around.
Want to dance around the house in your underwear, while singing along to your favorite song using your hairbrush as a microphone? Or want to sob through a sad, romantic movie while eating some chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream? Whatever it is — do it!
33. Act like a kid.
Do something you haven't done since you were a kid. Maybe it's playing on a swing set, roller blading, or going to a carnival. It will make you feel young and carefree again.
Sometimes it may feel like you're struggling in your personal life, work life, and family life, but in reality, there's someone out there that is less fortunate then you. Taking the time to give back is both humbling and eye-opening, and you don't need a buddy to do it. It's a great way to show yourself that you have what it takes to make a difference. Plus, doing good makes you feel good.
35. Create a piece of art.
Maybe you've never thought of yourself as the "artistic type," but everyone has a creative side. Experiment with paint, make a piece of jewelry, or craft something you saw on Pinterest — all of these activities will sharpen your creative abilities, which in turn will improve your problem solving skills and give you a fresh perspective on life.
36. Accomplish a fitness goal.
At least once in our lives, we should achieve some sort of athletic feat, whether it's finishing a 5K, completing an entire season on an intramural team, or learning a new sport. This is something you'll look back on and feel great about, which will give you an instant boost of confidence to tackle whatever lies ahead of you. Checking off that athletic goal will make you say, "I did that, now I can do anything."
37. Continue your education.
You can always learn something new, and if it's been awhile since you've found yourself in a classroom, don't worry. Just pick up a new book, register for a free online class, or listen to a podcast. Learning new skills and information will remind you just how smart and capable you really are.
38. Write a letter.
Yup, a real letter — not an email. Reach out to someone who made an impact on your life and let them know in the form of a heartfelt letter. No one gets to the end of her life and regrets showing love or gratitude. What people do regret are the things they never said. Don't be that person.
39. Complete a random act of kindness.
You, all alone, by yourself can make a huge impact on a stranger's life. Buy a homeless person a meal, leave a large tip for a waiter, or give an umbrella-less stranger your umbrella the next time it rains. Even if you don't instantly — or ever — see the impact you made, you can rest assured that you made a difference.
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