These are strange times. For the first time in my lifetime, people around the world are being told en masse to stay at home, be socially distant, and avoid crowded or confined public and private spaces. For someone like me, while the anxiety of uncertainty looms large, living in a state of semi-isolation is not a big deal. Not gonna lie – it’s even a little bit appealing. I am, by and large, an introvert who has been living in an extrovert’s world my whole life. I come from a big family, work in a public middle school, and attract very extroverted people as friends (I’m a pretty good listener, and most of my more extroverted friends like to talk, so it works out). But most days, I come home exhausted, overloaded with noise, and craving quiet time by myself.
For someone like me, being told to be socially distant is actually a bonus – it gives me a chance to slow down, relax, and clear some headspace. Mostly I keep busy and enjoy the quiet, slower pace my life has abruptly become.
But dear, dear extroverts: I see you. You are suddenly being asked to live as introverts, and maybe you’re freaking out just a little. Maybe the thought of being by yourself, away from the crowds depresses you. I am here to tell you that you will get through this. If you embrace it as I sometimes embrace festivals, concerts, and otherwise loud and noisy places, you might find you actually don’t mind being alone sometimes. It’s in this spirit I’d like to pass along some of my favorite ways to spend time alone:
- Go for a long walk or run in nature. If you aren’t near a hiking trail or park, any sidewalk will do. Listen to the wind, the birds, and all the cool chatter the critters are making. Take the dog if you have one. Take the cat if you can figure out how.
- Take a long, hot bath. It’s great for soothing those muscles you just worked on your nature walk.
- Groom yourself. Seriously, this can take a while. Do a hair treatment, put on a facial mask, and tweeze your eyebrows. Trim your nails or paint your toenails. Exfoliate. Many of us neglect self-care, and it’s a great time to get into the practice.
- Read or listen to a book. If it’s nice outside, grab a blanket and lie in the grass or plop down on a park bench. Just don’t forget to put on sunscreen – it’s easy to lose track of time in the quiet sunshine.
- Declutter. Get rid of things in your life that are more of a burden than a boon. Lots of advice on my blog for how to do this – and maybe you’ll be entertained on the way!
- Cook or bake something you never have time to cook or bake. Even though I don’t love to cook when life is stressful, when there’s a slow day, it can actually be a lot of fun.
- Do a puzzle or color in a coloring book. Let yourself remember what it felt like to be a kid and just engage in something without worrying about what you’re going to do next.
- Start a journal or blog, and write down your thoughts. Maybe take a look at your current habits or priorities and evaluate them. You might be surprised at the things that come up.
- Think. Not, like, incessant, anxiety-ridden loops of thought or running to-do lists, but daydreams! Let yourself imagine possibilities, think creatively, and find some inspiration.
- Call a friend or a family member and catch up. Maybe even have a philosophical conversation (something most introverts love to do). Okay, technically this is not an “alone activity,” but human beings (even introverts) are interdependent.
And at the close of each long day, spend some time in gratitude. In times of uncertainty and stress, mindful gratitude can be one of the most powerful practices. Most of all, be thankful for the people in your life – those who will surf the crowds with you and those like me who, if left to my own devices, will be in a corner somewhere taking pictures of it all.