Healthy Mind

12 Expert Tips for How To Be Happy Alone, No Matter Your Relationship Status

Photo: Getty Images/Maskot
It’s a common assumption that being single means that you’re alone. But that’s not the case. Even when you’re not romantically involved, there are so many ways to create connection—with yourself, your friends and family, your fur babies, nature, through various hobbies, and more. Furthermore, even if you are alone, you can still be happy, no matter your relationship status.

So, while there's nothing wrong with wanting to find a romantic partner, it can also be helpful to keep in mind that until you get there, it's absolutely possible to be happy without one. To set up all your days—single, in a relationship, or otherwise—with joy and happiness, mental health experts share their favorite tips below for how to be happy alone.

12 tips for how to be happy alone and single, according to experts

1. Set goals

A great way to focus on yourself—whether you're single, in a romantic relationship, or otherwise—is to set goals for yourself and steadily work toward achieving them. “These goals can be personal, career-related, financial, or educational,” says licensed mental health counselor Rachna Buxani-Mirpuri, LMHC, owner of Buxani Counseling Care in Florida.

2. Prioritize your self care

Self care can mean many things, but Buxani-Mirpuri says paying special mind to movement, nutrition, and meditation are all especially worthwhile ways to take care of your body, mind, and soul. Dedicating time each day to oral care, skin care, and other activities that bring your mind peace and joy are also worth incorporating, she says.

“Realizing that the most important relationship [we] will ever have is the one with [ourselves] is an important step to achieving contentment in any situation.” —Rachna Buxani-Mirpuri, LMHC

“The practice of self-love is essential for happiness,” Buxani-Mirpuri says. “Realizing that the most important relationship [we] will ever have is the one with [ourselves] is an important step to achieving contentment in any situation.”

3. Journal

Journaling is another form of self care that can help create a space to unload and process your thoughts and feelings. Rachel Wright, LMFT, a psychotherapist who focuses on sexual health, relationships, and mental health, recommends journaling every morning to start off your day with a gratitude list—and Buxani-Mirpuri agrees.

“Experiencing and expressing gratitude for all that [we] have helps [us] to not focus on what [we] might be missing,” Buxani-Mirpuri says. “Mental health is connected to [our] perspective on situations, so looking at being single as a beautiful gift of time when [we] can focus on what is important to [us] and achieving [our] goals can ensure that [we] feel differently about the situation.”

4. Know your worth

Remember, happiness doesn't need to be dependent on any outside person or thing. “Relationships, when healthy, are wonderful and add to [our lives]; however, the absence of them does not mean that [your] life is incomplete,” says Buxani-Murpuri. “Understanding that [you are] a complete person whose self-esteem develops from what [you] do in [your] life and how [you] contribute to making a difference for the greater good and not from any singular relationship in [your] life, [will help you] gain perspective and navigate situations.”

5. Embrace (and enjoy) solo sex

When you’re single, you may not have as frequent access to a sexual partner, but that doesn't mean you're barred from experiencing pleasure. In fact, even if you're not singe, Wright says focusing on your sexual relationship with yourself is paramount. “Masturbate every other day,” she suggests, noting that yes, it feels good, but it also boosts mental health.

6. Get outside

Research shows that spending time outdoors can be good for our mental health. With that in mind, Wright recommends going on a weekly hike or setting aside dedicated time each week to enjoy everything nature has to offer. Whether that’s a picnic, a walk around the block, a trip to the beach, a dip in a lake, or simply standing with your bare feet planted in the grass as a means to ground yourself, make sure to get out there.

7. Learn something new

As long as you’re alive, you’re capable of learning something new—and you should strive to do so. “Get involved in some activities that foster fun and learning; learn to dance, play a musical instrument or paint,” Buxani-Mirpuri suggests.

8. Book a vacation

Just because you're single doesn't mean you can't take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to make memories for yourself. That's why Buxani-Mirpuri says that being alone—when you don't have to contend with another person's schedule or priorities for the trip itself—actually might mark the best time to finally book your dream trip.

And if far-flung travel isn't in the cards for you right now for financial reasons or otherwise, focus on embracing a vacation mind set or micro-vacation, which allows you to reset without actually hopping on a plane.

9. Volunteer somewhere

There’s no denying the sense of joy you’ll feel when you give back to others—and you don't need a romantic partner to facilitate that event. “Volunteer your time to make a difference to others,” Buxani-Mirpuri says. “We all know the benefits of helping others in need, so take the time to contribute to a cause that you believe in.”

10. Find solace in spirituality

Buxani-Mirpuri says leaning on your spirituality can help significantly when working on learning how to be happy alone. “Practicing spirituality can help people gain an acceptance of situations and let go of the desire to control that which is not in their hand,” she says.

11. Build your support system

Just because you’re single doesn’t mean that you’re alone. “Your friends form your support system, and you are a part of theirs,” Buxani-Mirpuri says. “Take time to foster these very valuable relationships. Surround yourself with family and friends who enrich your life and help you become the best version of yourself.”

12. Don’t be afraid to seek therapy

“Talking to a therapist is always recommended to help develop a realistic perspective,” Buxani-Mirpuri says. “Practicing mindfulness by living in the here and now and experiencing every moment to the fullest is extremely helpful in dealing with feelings of loneliness or worry about the future.”

Even if you don’t feel particularly sad or lonely, Wright says that enrolling in weekly therapy will help you to get to know yourself and help you to be more present in your own life.

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