Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and it got me to thinking about how important it is to really nurture your most important relationship: the one you have with yourself!
How much quality time do you spend on your own? When I was a kid, I dreaded walking to and from school by myself. I always felt conspicuous when I wasn’t with a group of people—a feeling that carried over into adulthood. I never went to a restaurant, the mall, or anywhere else alone if I could avoid it.
But then I had three kids in less than five years, and it was all I could do to even pee in privacy. You know how people always want what they don’t have? Well, I began to crave solitude. So one day I did the unthinkable: I went to a movie—alone. I found out that I’m darn good company—and I’ll bet you are, too.
If you haven’t taken yourself on a date lately (or ever), why not plan something today? Here are a few of my friends’ and my favorite solo activities. There’s something for everyone, and one that may surprise you!
1. Book ‘em. My writer friend Alison loves to spend an hour or two wandering and reading at bookstores. Bonus: No pesky librarian to shush you should you laugh out loud in the humor section.
RELATED: Be sure to check out these 10 must-have health and fitness books for great tips and inspiration.
2. Take a hike. Several of my friends like to hit the trails at the closest park. A bottle of water, sunscreen, and nature—doesn’t get much better than that!
3. Giddy up, girlfriend. If you don’t feel like hiking the trails, why not explore them on horseback? Check out listings for trail rides in your area. Even if you live in a city, there’s a good chance there’s a stable within driving distance.
4. Movie star. This is where it all started for me. It’s still one of my favorite things to do by myself because I always get to choose the movie and I never have to share my popcorn.
5. A day at the beach. Perfect if you live near the coast, you can work on your tan and let the rhythmic sound of the waves relax you.
6. Shop around. Shopping tops the list for a lot of us. Browsing boutiques solo means spending as much time as you’d like without anyone rolling their eyes or looking at their watch.
7. Stand up for yourself. My friend Suzanne, who lives in San Diego, goes stand-up paddleboarding most mornings in Mission Bay. (Although with the sea turtles tagging along, she’s technically not alone.)
RELATED: SUP is an amazing total-body workout. Try other fun ways to burn fat without the gym.
8. Spa-ahhhh day. This is one of my personal favorites. Most spas allow you use the facilities all day if you book one treatment, and a lot of them offer mid-week specials. Recently I took advantage of just such a deal at the spa at the Four Seasons in Westlake Village, CA. Wednesday has never been so wonderful.
9. Get smart. You can sign up for a class in just about anything from conversational Mandarin to dog grooming at a local community college or through the parks and rec. Or get in touch with your artistic side by making jewelry at a bead lounge or painting ceramics at Color Me Mine. I’ve done both and have an awesome lariat necklace and serving platter to prove it.
10. Clean house. Literally. This is not a joke. When I polled my girlfriends about how they most like to spend time alone, three included organizing their closets and drawers on their lists. This surprised the heck out of me, not because I think it’s strange, but because I thought I was the only one!