Many of us lead busy lives and rarely enjoy free time when it is granted to us. When a meeting gets canceled, the kids are at a playdate, or you have no plans for your Sunday morning, it can be difficult to accept and truly enjoy downtime. Just because you’re a hard worker who enjoys the feeling of productivity doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prioritize time with your own thoughts as well.
It can be uncomfortable to have time by yourself without knowing exactly what to do with it. Set aside a few minutes for yourself today– no devices, no worrying about the tasks you must complete later– just you and your peace. Try some of these ways to cope with that difficult feeling of enjoying alone time, yet still feeling like you are accomplishing something:
Taking time to write down your feelings is a tried and true way to relieve stress, walk through your emotions, and get your brain working. Try moving to a new location that doesn’t feel like your normal routine. Find a quiet place- perhaps in nature- put on some meditative music, lay out your yoga mat, and make a moment of it.
It can be difficult to consider exercise a form of relaxation, but it can be if you try. Find a workout video that you enjoy doing in the comfort of your home. Rather than thinking of it as something to check off of a list, make it an activity you GET to do.
Creating Pinterest boards can be extremely relaxing if you feel creative or have the desire to spend time on social media but don’t want the toxicity that can come with that. Set aside time for yourself to create mood boards on Pinterest to manifest your dream reality. Even if you have a show or movie on in the background, you can still be productive and create visuals of your dream life.
If you’re yearning for some time to watch TV or a movie, consider putting on an educational documentary, film, or docuseries. Watching TV doesn’t have to be the brain-rotting activity we often think of it as. It still can be productive to take time to relax in a comfy space, but feel that your time is being used well by educating yourself.
A one-person card game is a great way to exercise your brain and enjoy time with your life partner: yourself! It’s always great to become better at a skill and playing games alone can feel extremely rewarding.
Meditation is a classic form of stress relief and self care. Taking the time to breathe, be mindful, and enjoy serenity can feel like a reset. The benefits of meditation are numerous and it is a great way to relax and work your mind in a positive way.
If you have a creative mind, sitting silently might feel like a chore. Consider doing a craft, making pottery, or painting to put yourself at ease during your free time. It can be fun to see the work your hands and brain come up with when there is no set outcome.
If you feel like doing something fun and relaxing will add to the stress of feeling unproductive, take up a task that you’ve been meaning to do. Organize a drawer, cabinet, or display. Decluttering can be a perfect reset and can feel like a positive thing you took on for the day.
Taking a trip to the library or bookstore can be a fun outing and simultaneously feel productive. Consider spending unlimited time searching for and checking out or buying a physical book. Then take the time to sit down, relax in this setting outside of your home, and read in the quiet environment for some time.
There are numerous events all over the country that likely align with your interests and values. The best part is that the people attending these events will share the same interests as you. Whether it be a wine night, book club, or networking event, other people are having the same experience as you and are searching for a way to meet new people and try a new activity. By going to an event alone, you might feel pressured to get out of your comfort zone and enjoy the time spent with yourself and new people.
Most importantly: Let yourself be bored! It’s okay to do nothing.
If any of these things are too much to do in your designated downtime, choose to have no plan at all. For a set amount of time, have no phone, no schedule, and just do whatever you want with your free time. Doing whatever you feel like doing in a specific moment without a plan can be exactly what your mind and body need.
We all deserve free time spent alone, so make the most of it. Grant yourself the opportunity to do nothing, to do something you love, or to try something new; you never know what may come of it!