Justin Bieber does it, and an expert shares when and why it's worth a try.

By Julia Malacoff

Treating youself to a solo movie "date" might feel a little weird at first, but if a celeb can do it, why couldn't you? Yep, TMZ reported that Justin Bieber showed up by himself at a movie theater Monday (well, he still had his bodyguards), ordered nachos, and had a lovely evening just hanging out alone. It sounds like a pretty good night, and it made us wonder: How important is it to hang out by yourself sometimes? (Also, scope these tips for a healthy date night in.)

Turns out, hanging out by yourself can be "a special time where you can turn inward, self-reflect, and prioritize self-care," says Samantha Burns, licensed mental health counselor and author of Love Successfully: 10 Secrets You Need to Know Right Now. The time you spend alone either going to the movies, grabbing a meal at a favorite restaurant (eating alone shouldn't feel scary!), or even cooking yourself dinner with a great bottle of wine is important because it can bring you clarity about everything from relationships to your career. "Often you're racing about on autopilot from work to social gatherings to dates with your partner (if you have one), and you don't have a chance to tune in and process how you're feeling," says Burns. Actually giving yourself time to think about things-what's going right or wrong in your life right now-can give you exactly the kind of insight you need.

Even more importantly, "these solo adventures can remind you of who you are, the things you like most, and reawaken your sense of independence and confidence," she says. (Want to take a real adventure by yourself? Check out the best fitness retreats for women traveling solo.) Most people probably don't have time to make a weekly standing date with themselves, but Burns says that when you're going through a major life transition (maybe you're going through something akin to Biebs finding out that his ex Selena Gomez has potentially moved on to the Weeknd), it's a good idea to carve out time in your schedule to have fun alone. Career transitions, like losing or changing your job, are also a period when you can benefit from some solo time to reflect, remember why you're awesome, and think about what new goals you might want to set. (Here, find more on setting big goals for yourself.)

If you don't feel comfortable spending time alone in public at places where people are usually social (the bar, or a busy restaurant), Burns doesn't want you to just avoid those places. Rather, she recommends asking yourself why you feel that way. "Challenge your negative or self-defeating thoughts by asking yourself why you care so much if a stranger judges you for sitting alone," she says. Remember that what strangers think has zero impact on your life. If all else fails, bring a book along to distract yourself when you're feeling awkward. "It's your time to relax and meet your own needs, which should make you feel proud and confident, not insecure and lonely." So go ahead and do something that makes you feel happy-no friends or partner required.


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