Why Taking Yourself Out On A Solo Date Could Be The Self-Care Practice You Need

When you think of self-care, what's the first thing that pops into your head? A bubble bath and candles? Enjoying a balanced breakfast? Curling on the couch reading a self-help book that won't make you roll your eyes? While all of those certainly apply (and sound heavenly), there is one self-care practice in particular that you probably never would have thought about: a solo date.

The perfect blend of solitude and adventure, a solo date may be the answer you've been seeking to kick your well-being into high gear. And really, when was the last time you took yourself on a date? No distractions, no meaningless conversations to fill the awkward silence, no leaning on someone else's opinions on where to eat or what activity to enjoy. Probably a long time, if not ever, right?

You may think that taking yourself on a solo date makes you appear like a lonely loser to others, as discovered in a study by the American Psychological Association. Still, there is a specific power in reclaiming your control and spending quality time with yourself that is truly unmatched. Whether you've been married for years or enjoying the single life, taking yourself on a solo date may be the self-care practice you need to realign yourself with the one person who's always been there for you... you. Here's why.

Solo dates allow you to form a deeper connection with yourself

When you're enjoying a date with someone, it's easy to focus on them. The goal of a date is to get to know them deeper, after all. But by taking yourself on a solo date, you can focus solely on yourself. "Alone time fosters independence and allows you to be more in touch with yourself, which then allows you to feel more grounded in all areas of life," San Francisco-based therapist Stephanie Macadaan told InStyle. "I refer to this as a 'psychic space,' a time where you are not focused on someone else but rather attuned to your own feelings, needs, and wants."

And the more you are attuned with yourself, the more you are able to understand who you really are and the things you enjoy. In turn, you can form more profound, fruitful connections with those closest to you. Just like you get to know another person on a traditional one-on-one date, you are able to get to know yourself when it's just you. And, according to The Student Pocket Guide, this will only help you in the future when selecting a potential partner or spouse.

Solo dates are the secret to regaining your power

When you go on a date with a partner, their opinion matters. And think of all the little compromises you make! Maybe they don't like butter on their movie theater popcorn, so you are forced to skip it even though it's your favorite. Or, perhaps they prefer to sit in the very back of the theater, and your go-to seat is smack dab in the middle row. Now, imagine you took yourself on a movie date. Your popcorn is drenched in all the butter you want, and that middle seat is calling your name. Power = regained. And with that comes a boost of confidence and self-esteem, which, according to a PubMed study, is crucial for overall well-being.

And with regaining your power comes setting work and home-life boundaries. With a day filled with endless responsibilities, it isn't easy to completely shut off. But there is power in saying "no," and choosing to turn those notifications off when on your solo date or away from your obligations. In fact, it's highly beneficial for your mental health to do so (via The Kim Foundation). So the next time you take yourself on a date, don't just give yourself the power to choose where you go, but how reachable you are to the outside world as well.

You can be around other people while still enjoying your solitude

If you're an extroverted people person and the thought of spending time alone sounds boring, remember that you don't have to be entirely alone in the middle of a quiet environment to enjoy a solo date. Plus, according to PsychCentral, it doesn't matter where you fall on the introverted – extroverted spectrum, as everybody can find enjoyment in quality alone time. Pick a heavily populated location, like a busy park or museum, where you can be around other people while simultaneously enjoying your solitude. That way, you aren't entirely obligated to reply and continue conversations with people, but if the opportunity presents itself, you can still connect with others.

Leo Coleman, a cultural anthropologist, told The Atlantic, "You can have an encounter with something that's meaningful and beautiful. And you know that there are other people sharing that experience, even if it's just a glance or overhearing a conversation that someone else is having with somebody there." There is a unique sense of peace and comfort in being alone, yet not completely alone at the same time.

Solo dates can ignite your creativity

With the hustle and bustle of daily life, there is very little time to spark your inner creativity. And having a high level of creativity doesn't mean you have the ability to participate in arts and crafts easily and paint like Picasso. There are multiple types of creativity, and all contribute to human development (per Very Well Mind). Whether your creativity helps you solve everyday problems, produce unique ideas, or achieve artistic recognition, it's a great skill to have in your toolbox.

"I think that to find an original expression, you need to develop a deep relationship with yourself, and to have that relationship with yourself, you need alone time or solitude," Dr. Misha Myers, a Deakin University creative arts lecturer, told Deakin University's life advice website This. Myers recommends limiting distractions to avoid multi-tasking, and just be in the moment. "I'm making a space to just do nothing. I'm observing all the life that's going on in the tree, noticing the patterns, listening to music, and really hearing it rather than having it on in the background." This one-on-one experience will spark that creativity within you, especially if you are solely focused on being in the moment. 

Solo dates take your self-love to a higher level

Intention is the key to solo dating. You must enter these dates with the intention of cultivating a deeper relationship with yourself. In fact, spending time alone can have the opposite effect if you are participating in them without purpose, according to SoSynced. If you are a commitment-phobe or have a habit of dodging vulnerability, these solo dates may not be entirely beneficial. However, with the intention of gaining a deeper connection with yourself, a solo date can lead you to higher self-love than you ever imagined.

"I tend to believe that anything you can do with another person is really fair game for doing on your own," Jill Sherer Murray, award-winning author, speaker, and communications expert, told Bustle. "I believe that it's important to go on these solo dates as often as possible, as part of the ritual of cultivating what I call 'Radical Self-Love' (RSL) — which takes the take-care-of-yourself kind of generic self-love to a deeper, more grounded place by adding intention."

Whatever you decide to do, whether it's sitting at a coffee shop and savoring your go-to latte or enjoying a solo hot girl walk while listening to your favorite true crime podcast, it's bound to be fulfilling. Get to know yourself a little deeper, and see for yourself just how lovable, strong, and unique you are. Chances are, you'll find total peace in the solitude and connection with yourself. Plus, there's no awkward conversation on who pays or if you're splitting the bill — a total win.