I’ve been going to the cinema, eating out and more by myself since I moved to Harrogate 5 years ago, before that when I was at home, I always had friends to do these activities with so it wasn’t such a big deal! But since making the move I’ve had to be brave and do activities solo because otherwise I wouldn’t do anything, but it hasn’t been easy, I’ve previously written about having social anxiety and how this has impacted almost everything I do.
As the years have gone on, I’ve come to accept that social anxiety is part of who I am and how I can manage it. I did write a post saying how I’d overcome it but the truth is that I don’t think I have as I still get the odd pang of anxiety when meeting someone new for example or having to step into a room full of people!
Most of the time though, I go through my days the same way everyone else does and this includes going to the cinema and out to eat. Yes it may seem odd that I’m the single person dining alone but I’ve found restaurants and cafes which make me feel comforted, and I frequent them a lot because of this.
I’ve read that this is one way that people who have anxiety calm themselves when they can feel an attack coming on or when they want to feel safe. I have to say I agree wholeheartedly because sometimes the thought of going somewhere new or listening to the latest songs can make me feel 1) old, which in itself isn’t very comforting or 2) even more anxious, which definitely ISN’T comforting at all!
The pandemic probably hasn’t helped with this either, with everyone working from home if you’re one of those types who thrive off of other people then you could find your energy levels needing a boost more often.
With our socialising curtailed somewhat over the last two years, even if you were once outgoing and always had plans with friends or work colleagues, you too may find that you’re struggling with even these small social acts.
Like I said, I’ve had to become used to dating myself since moving to Harrogate and struggling to make friends. As an adult this can be more difficult when you move house or to a different area, change jobs and lose touch with those whom you were once friendly with.
It can be difficult and daunting to go out to a restaurant, the cinema or just out for coffee by yourself if you’ve always previously done these activities with friends or family. But I promise you that once you make the leap you’ll wonder what it was that prevented you from doing it in the first instance!
Here are a few tips if you’re wanting to go on a solo date, but are perhaps nervous about it:
Go to a familiar cafe or restaurant
Take a book with you
Book in advance
Write it in your diary
Order your favourite food/drink
Wear comfortable clothes/shoes
For me, I have found that in these situations, if I go to a favourite cafe or restaurant I immediately feel at ease and can prevent an attack from happening, or even stop the anxious feelings in their tracks before they have a chance to rise to the surface.
Solo date ideas
There are so many activities you can do by yourself but here are a few that I’ve enjoyed in the past:
Painting pottery – a very therapeutic & mindful activity
Going to the cinema – good because you’re in the dark and no-one can see you!
Eating out – something I do A LOT but it’s because I enjoy it!
Going swimming – can be daunting, but it’s so worth it to get exercise and be mindful
Get outside for a walk/run – something I’ve come to love recently is running alone
Perks of solo dating
There are many perks to solo dating and doing activities by yourself. For one, you don’t have to share you food/drink/snacks with anyone else and you get to choose exactly what toppings to have or not to have on your pizza!
For another, when you can go to the cinema, for instance, you get to choose exactly what film to watch, when you want to watch it and bonus, you get to eat all the popcorn yourself! (and choose the size, flavour and combination too!)
When you choose to go for a walk by yourself, you get to choose how long you’ll be out for, the route you want to walk and whether or not to listen to music or a podcast or not. It’s great having this freedom if you’re previously always relied on other people for stimulation, or perhaps there’s a new route you’ve been wanting to try.
Choosing to exercise alone can be daunting (as can everything else on this list) but I promise you that once you make that decision, you’ll hopefully be inspired to try something different. Perhaps a new exercise class, or aqua aerobics or even running!
Learning to switch off
Sometimes, with our ever increasingly busy world, it can feel like we always need to be ‘switched on’ and ever ready to reply to emails, comments, phonecalls, Whatsapp messages, Dms...the list can seem endless. But I’m here to tell you that it’s perfectly OK to switch off when you’ve finished work and only answer work emails/calls/messages when you’re at work, rather than outside of it!
It’s good for your mental well-being and emotional health to only be available when your work hours call for it and to say no to things which do not serve you. If your brain is feeling fried from staring at screens or overwhelmed from dealing with people all day.
Taking time to yourself will serve you no end of good and your brain will thank you for allowing it to switch off at the end of the day or at the weekend/during time off. I know from personal experience that all work and no play makes me a very dull, half shell of a woman and not the bubbly, sunshiney self that everyone knows me as.
Once I recognised how working 40+ hours a week & dealing with muscle soreness was affecting me, I plucked up the courage to ask for a reduction in hours from my manager and I booked in for a massage with one of my friends.
I also looked into the avenues of self care I’ve used in the past such as ensuring I got enough sleep (easier said than done though!), taking baths to relax, looking after myself better and increasing my exercise.
These are all things you too can do yourself and you shouldn’t be made to feel silly or less than for wanting to take some time for yourself. Learn who you are, what you love doing or not and enjoy solo dating yourself!
I hope these tips and ideas have been helpful to you. If you have any activities which you do by yourself, I’d love to hear them!