4 Creative Ways to Maximize Your Alone Time

An introvert bakes during her alone time

Tiny comforts may not literally elongate your alone time as an introvert, but removing yourself from the present can be a welcome escape.

When you have to jump between meetings, your kids’ activities, book clubs, and a plethora of other things, a small break in the day can help you recharge. That way, you can then go back out into the world and be social again without feeling completely drained. After all, alone time is key for us introverts. While extroverts get a charge out of being among people, introverts do from spending time with ourselves.

Even if it’s just for a short period of time, here are four creative ways to maximize your alone time.

4 Creative Ways to Maximize Your Alone Time

1. Do a quick yoga routine. (Does your core strength need work? Even better.)

Look up the sun salutation, or another easy sequence for beginners. You seriously don’t need a yoga mat, or a matching workout set, or any other yoga-themed accessories. (And if you’re a yoga guru already, then you already get it. Feel free to skip ahead!)

But for all you other folks, keep reading! And stretch more! (And more often!) I always convince myself I’m “too busy” to do yoga regularly, but if I work it into my “do nothing” time while wearing nothing but undies in my living room, it’s totally worth it. 

Yoga gives me four-minute bursts of excruciating realizations that I currently can’t touch my toes, as well as four minutes of deep breaths and being present with my mind and thoughts. It’s a moment where I’m not thinking about how to monetize my hobbies, or how to redesign a system to make it more efficient. Instead, it’s a moment of self-care, both mentally and physically, and is a relaxing respite before running back out the door.

But wait, there’s more! There’s a bonus aspect! Holding some of those core yoga positions for 30 seconds is akin to an eternity in hell, and they may seem clearly intended to be performed by monkeys, thus leading you to wonder if “alone time” is really all it’s chalked up to be. Of course, once you collapse, post-plank, that last thought is pretty fleeting… but damn, those 30 seconds really dragged on, amiright? Now do that five more times. Those three minutes felt pretty long, huh? But they were so worth it!

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2. Make it moody — turn down the lights, add music, and light a candle. 

Face it: There’s no worse way to spend your coveted alone time than sitting awkwardly on the couch, uncomfortably waiting until you have to leave again. So transport yourself somewhere else! For the minutes (or hours) you have to yourself, change the mood rather than watch the clock count down under fluorescent lighting, while you inevitably scroll with hastening anxiety.

Now’s your chance to create an HSP sanctuary or “introvert zen zone” for you and you alone. I often resort to the “deep woods” aesthetic — soft lit lamps, a cozy fireplace (fake or not; anything will do), cream-colored fuzzy blankets, and absolutely, positively, no pants allowed. I’d also argue that “Island Time” naturally runs slower, so a breezy, ukulele Hawaiian vibe — with cracked windows, the sound of birds chirping (piped in if you must!) and a loose pair of shorts — often does the trick. But, whatever you do, whatever your chosen aesthetic is, don’t remain in uncomfy work clothes — and definitely take your shoes off to let your toes wiggle. 

Tiny comforts may not literally elongate your time, but briefly removing yourself from the present reality (yep, it’s called dissociating, and we all do it!) can be a welcome escape from a stressful environment. A teeny mental holiday might just be the ticket to getting more out of your moments alone.

3. Employ this new trend called “brown noise.”

When you’re by yourself, it can be impossible to clear your head of all of the thoughts, tasks, and worries you constantly deal with. And when you’re trying to enjoy your alone time, stressing about your upcoming presentation at work really doesn’t help. Neither does replaying that awkward conversation you had with your friend at the coffee shop, and wondering if they now hate you. (They don’t.) You can stress about the presentation later, and, odds are, your friend has already forgotten about the conversation (or will at least pretend to). And if not, they’ll make fun of you later, and you can cross (or hide under) that bridge when it comes.

Simply telling those thoughts to evacuate, however, doesn’t often yield positive results — especially since we introverts are experts at overthinking. You need to force or coerce them out, at least temporarily, and with any luck, you’ll be mentally released from the constant noise in your head. 

So, introducing… “brown noise” — which can put you in a trance, or a meditative state, and offer you moments of pure bliss in contrast to normal, loud, daily life. Here’s how it works.

You’ve probably heard of brown noise’s cousin, white noise. White noise is the sound you get when all the frequencies of sound we can hear are amplified together at the same decibel and result in a “fuzzy” and calming sort of sound. It’s sort of like a slow, constant wind blowing through a dense orchard. (It’s also like a nicer version of radio static.) And some research has found that it helps folk find calmness and get to sleep. 

Brown noise, very similar to white noise, manipulates the sound frequencies even more, but seems a little rougher or textured. As a result, the sound is more akin to a raging river than a rustling breeze. It might feel counterintuitive to play a loud, harsh sound in order to find relaxation, but brown noise actually filters out all the ambient sounds around you that you otherwise would hear (but not internalize). So this creates a padded focus zone for your brain, and nothing else. 

For example, if you’re standing in a room with 50 people, and they’re all talking at you, you will probably hear small bits of each conversation. (You’ll also feel overwhelmed and not able to adequately consider or respond to any of them.) That’s what your brain can feel like when you come home to a quiet house and need to relax, but you still have segments of the day’s stressors weighing in on you. 

Now, consider this: You’re standing in a forest with 50 people, and they’re all talking at you, but the river beside you is drowning out most of what everyone is saying — so much so that their voices are indistinct from the river itself. You feel yourself, and everyone else, gravitate toward the river and cast your eyes on its beauty while conversations begin to slow and quietly lull. Suddenly, you and those 50 people are all quietly contemplative, gazing silently into the moving water. You each have your own distinct thoughts as you breathe in and breathe out. Ahhhhh. Brown noise. Bliss.

Head to TikTok or YouTube to find eight-hour loops of brown noise, pick your fave, and enjoy any nagging thoughts in your head as they just poof away. Brown noise is a great way to melt away some of the psychological barriers that keep us from truly and earnestly taking a load off during our time alone.

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4. Bake bread! (Actually, just make the dough, on a loop, forever and ever.)

If you have an hour or so on your hands, and really want to make it feel like forever, try baking. Go find a serious bread recipe online — and start it. Bread-making is both a science and an art, but is actually better understood by laymen as an ancient form of dubious wizardry or classic science fiction. I am personally very intimidated by all things dough and bread-making, but I watch a fair amount of Brad Leone (of Bon Appétit) and Claire Saffitz (formerly of Bon Appétit) on YouTube, who don’t necessarily make the sourdough process less scary, but they make it okay to mess up, which helps.  

In some bread recipes, it calls for kneading a very firm dough by hand, for like seven minutes. Or nine minutes. Or 12 frickin’ minutes! Look, if you’ve never kneaded dough before, I once kneaded a super soft dough for eight minutes, and I’m almost certain the second hand on my clock started ticking backwards. Time straight-up went in reverse. (Did I cross through some sort of tear in the space-time continuum? Did I find myself floating in a distant, but similar, universe? I’m not saying I did, but probably. No one knows.)

My point is, 30 seconds into this endeavor, I immediately questioned my overconfidence in my physical fitness. At two minutes in, I was covered in a full sweat and had abandoned any hope of finishing the recipe (much less doing so while keeping myself or the kitchen clean and clutter-free). I believe it was at around the five-and-a-half-minute mark, in dire, piercing silence, that my delusions started manifesting as voices, and then as visions of all my life’s biggest regrets. Roughly two minutes and a thousand eons after that, cue the pupils in my eyes dilating wide, the sound of 20 scratching records, and quick-cut edits of flashes of blinding whiteness, then deep space, then my childhood bedroom, then… I blink, and I’m in my kitchen again. 

There’s background noise from the TV I must’ve missed earlier. I look at the clock. I’ve only been kneading for two minutes. I didn’t say it was a particularly restful way to spend time, just that it extended it. Indefinitely. Test my theory. Thank me later. There is something to culinary therapy — and it’s the perfect way to spend your alone time.

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