For most of us, there are times when we like being around others, and times when it’s nice to be alone. The problem is, no matter how much we may need some alone time, we might not always know how to spend it.
But, there are all kinds of interesting hobbies you can do solo – and there are also many activities that are far more enjoyable to do by yourself.
So, whether you’re an introvert and prefer your own company or you simply don’t have as many loved ones around you as you’d like, the good news is that being alone doesn’t have to mean being bored.
To get you inspired, here are 14 fulfilling hobbies that you can do by yourself.
Writing is an incredibly rewarding solo pursuit. Plus, it’s never too late to start – whether you’ve always enjoyed writing and have dreams of publishing your own book, or you’d just like to get creative and see what you’re capable of.
You can try writing a novel, short story, or a non-fiction book. Or, you might want to try your hand at blogging or journaling. If you’d like to find out more about the different types of writing you can have a go at, head over to the books, literature, and writing section of our website. Here, we also have a Writers Corner, so if you’d like to share your writing, why not send it to us so we can publish it?
While it can be daunting sitting down and staring at an empty page, it’s important to remember that, for most people, getting going is often the most difficult part. Once you find your flow, you’ll probably find the hours race past, and you’ll end up wondering where the time has gone.
2. Solo chess
Chess is considered a game for two – though it can also be a solo game, and playing by yourself has a whole host of benefits. Not only does it allow you to practise chess tactics, but it can also boost your cognitive skills while improving your ability to think creatively. And, unlike traditional chess, there’s no stress involved, so it’s a great way to unwind.
Two-player chess is all about anticipating your opponent’s moves, which requires focus, strategy, and patience. Solo chess is the same but arguably more difficult; after all, who can predict your next move better than you?
In order to play solo chess, you obviously need to play as both competitors, so the only requirement is learning how not to favour one side over the other, and to keep an unbiased viewpoint. This doesn’t mean all your games will end up in a draw, however – as inevitably, you’ll make a mistake at some point – which will give your ‘opponent’ the upper hand!
You can play solo chess using a traditional chess board, or online, on a solo chess server. The beauty of solo chess is that it’s not a fast game; it’s designed to be played slowly, and games can take days or even weeks to finish. It’s a slow-moving battle of the mind, though because you’re competing against yourself, it still feels like a relaxing and enjoyable pastime.
If you like being outdoors and cooking from scratch, there’s a good chance that foraging might be right up your street. Foraging involves searching for and collecting food from nature – anything from mushrooms and berries to herbs and plants.
Not only does foraging allow you to connect with nature and enjoy some quiet time in the Great Outdoors, but it also means you’ll feel more connected to the meals you cook and eat – and you’ll know you’re eating more healthily and sustainably too. Plus, you’ll save money on food shopping!
However, it’s important to know exactly what ingredients you’re looking for before you set off – and to be aware that some species of UK plants and fungi are toxic. To brush up on your knowledge, you can check out the foraging guides from National Geographic, BBC Good Food and the Woodland Trust.
Another creative pursuit – but one that’s more artistic than intellectual – is photography. The beauty of photography is that there’s an entry point for everyone, whether you consider yourself a bit of a natural or a total rookie.
Given the calibre of smartphones these days, you don’t need to fork out for an expensive DSLR camera either. Many smartphones are so advanced that you can use them to replicate digital photography and there are even specific smartphone photography courses you can go on.
There are also many different types of photography, so you can choose your niche. If you have a passion for food, why not look into food photography? If you like snapping pictures of everyday life, street photography could be for you. Like being among nature? Why not try landscape photography? If you enjoy capturing people’s personalities, portrait photography might be your thing,
If you’d like to learn more, have a read of our beginner’s guide to photography. Other articles you might want to check out include; How to take better photos with your phone and 8 fun photography projects that you can start today.
Another great solo pursuit for people who enjoy being outside and connecting with the natural world is birdwatching. One of the great things about birdwatching is that you can do it wherever you are in the world – because birds are all around us, even in cities and urban areas.
Another perk of birdwatching is that you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Simply looking out the window and seeing what birds you can spot can be fascinating – and often surprising! Many also enjoy the meditative and mindful aspects of birdwatching, as it can help with focusing on the present moment.
Once you’ve started to observe the habits and behaviour of the birds around you, you’ll probably be amazed at how quickly you develop a passion for it. There are all kinds of exciting bird events to watch out for – migratory birds passing through, chicks hatching and growing up, etc. – and being aware of these can help you gain a deeper appreciation for the world that we live in.
To find out more, have a read of our beginner’s guide to birdwatching.
If you’re looking for a hobby you can do indoors, then why not think about needlework?
There are all kinds of needlework you can try. For example, if you like the idea of making your own clothes, then knitting and crocheting might be for you. Or, if you’d prefer to make pretty designs, cross-stitch may be your thing.
Whatever form of needlework you decide to try, you’ll get plenty of benefits from it. Needlework has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus, and even protect your cognitive skills. Plus, you’ll end up with plenty of hand-made treasures that are perfect for giving to loved ones as unique and thoughtful gifts.
You don’t need any special skills or dexterity to become a knitting or sewing whizz – you just need to have some patience and accept that it might take you a little while to get the hang of it.
For more ideas on how to give needlework a go, head over to the arts and crafts section of our website.
7. Gardening and growing plants
Gardening can be a fulfilling way to spend your time – and like needlework, it has lots of health benefits. It can reduce stress, depression, and anxiety, and boost mood and self-esteem. Plus, gardening outdoors counts as a form of exercise, and allows you to get plenty of sun and fresh air.
There’s also a strong sense of meaning associated with gardening, as it helps you feel connected to nature, and growing living things and seeing them flourish is hugely satisfying. You don’t need a garden, terrace, or balcony to get growing; you can grow houseplants and make your home look more aesthetically pleasing while you’re at it.
Plus, if you enjoy cooking, you can try growing your own vegetables and herbs. Again, you don’t need a garden or even a balcony for this, as many small plants and herbs grow happily on window sills.
To find out more about how you can get into gardening and growing plants, head over to the gardening section of our website.
8. Solo exercise
The days when we were all watching exercise videos in our living rooms due to the pandemic are thankfully gone. Though, one thing we’ve learned from it is that it’s much easier and more rewarding to exercise by ourselves than many of us thought.
Not only does it require more discipline, which makes it feel more gratifying, but it also allows you to get inside your own head more and really focus on the exercise you’re doing, and how it makes you feel in both mind and body.
There are all kinds of activities that are perfect as a single-person hobby. If you’re looking to work on your strength, balance, and flexibility – and are also keen to reduce stress and anxiety and feel more present – then why not try yoga or pilates? Or, if you’d like to increase the intensity, why not give running or cycling a try, or have a go at combat sports?
Alternatively, you can try fitting walking into your daily routine, and see it not just as a means of getting from A to B, but as an essential part of your day. Walking is one of the most underrated forms of exercise and also gives you a chance to enjoy other fun solo activities while doing it – from listening to podcasts and audiobooks to practising mindfulness.
If you’ve always been intrigued by hobbies like carpentry, and the act of turning a plain piece of wood into something beautiful or useful, then why not have a go at whittling?
Whittling is a simple and ancient form of wood carving that’s been practised for thousands of years, and unlike carpentry, you don’t need to have any special skills to get going. You don’t even need any special tools – just a knife and some wood.
You can carve practical objects like bowls and spoons or more intricate items, like sculptures, chess pieces, or figurines. Working with natural materials like wood helps you feel connected to nature – and many people prefer to whittle outside, which further helps them feel at one with the natural world.
While you don’t need any specific skills or talents to get into whittling, you do need to be able to focus on the task at hand. Concentrating so intently on what you’re doing means that whittling is another mindful activity, and it’s been proven to reduce stress and help you focus on the present.
If you’d like to try expressing your creative streak while feeling connected to nature, you might want to check out our beginner’s guide to whittling.
10. Learning a new language
If you’re interested in travelling, discovering new cultures, and being able to connect with people from different countries, then learning a new language can be an enriching experience. While learning languages used to occur mostly in schools or classes, today things are different and it’s easy to learn alone from your own home.
If you’d like to see if learning a specific language feels right for you, why not try free apps like Duolingo, where you can spend as little as 10 minutes a day practising your listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills? With over 30 different languages available, there’s plenty of choice.
Or, for something more advanced, Rosetta Stone offers an in-depth interactive programme that gives you access to online lessons, phrasebooks, and audio stories – and while subscribing isn’t free, you can do a trial to see if it’s for you. We also have various virtual language classes available through our Rest Less Events platform.
Aside from the benefits of being able to communicate with people from other countries, there are health perks to learning a language. It can boost cognitive skills like listening, multitasking, mental flexibility, and problem-solving, improve your job prospects, and give your self-esteem a boost.
For more inspiration, you might want to check out our article; The benefits of learning a new language.
If you’re a creative person and feel you have an untapped artistic streak, why not give painting a go?
Like other creative activities, painting has powerful health benefits: it can improve memory, enhance focus, sharpen motor skills, alleviate stress and anxiety, and foster emotional growth.
Another perk of painting is that contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be able to draw to work some magic with a paintbrush. You just need plenty of enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Like photography, there are also many different types of painting you can try your hand at – not just in terms of your subject but the materials you’re using too.
You can try painting with watercolours, oils, or acrylics – or all three. Part of the fun of painting is learning what materials you enjoy working with best, although acrylic paint is usually considered best for beginners, as it dries quickly and is easy to use.
You can paint a portrait, a landscape, a still-life, or experiment with colour and brushwork as freely as you like… after all, the best thing about art is there are no rules! Painting as a hobby isn’t just a fun way to spend your time, it also gives you an outlet to express yourself.
To find out more, have a read of our guide; Learn how to paint.
If you’re looking for a creative hobby but don’t think either writing or painting is for you, then why not settle somewhere in between, and try your hand at calligraphy? This ancient art has been practised since 600 BC and it’s still popular today.
Learning how to write letters and symbols in beautiful and elaborate ways, using thick and thin lines, is both relaxing and satisfying – and you don’t need to be good at either writing or drawing to have a flair for calligraphy. You just need to be patient and give yourself time to master the specific ‘strokes’ each calligraphy letter is made up of.
There’s also a unique comfort to be found in the art of calligraphy. Picking up a pen and taking time to create something beautiful simply from the flow of your hand is rewarding and meditative – and just like writing, you’ll find the time flies by once your hand finds its flow.
Plus, once you’ve mastered the art of calligraphy, you’ll be able to send out lovely personalised letters to loved ones – or even use your skills to give another fun solo hobby a go: card making!
To find out more, have a read of our introduction to calligraphy.
13. Playing a musical instrument
If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument, who not spend some of your spare time making those dreams a reality?
There are so many health benefits of learning how to play an instrument: it’s fun, can boost your mood, distract you from negative thoughts, and can even improve memory and reduce stress.
Plus, while learning an instrument yourself is a hobby best practised solo, once you’ve learned the basics, you can look into joining one of the many music groups around – so if you’re looking to expand your social circle and meet new people, it’s an excellent choice.
Many people think that if they never learned how to play or read music as a child, they’ll struggle as an adult – but this isn’t true. It’s never too late to acquire new skills, and music is no different. Having said that, some instruments are easier to pick up than others, so have a read of our article, 7 of the easiest musical instruments for adults to learn, to find out more.
While it takes effort and patience to learn how to play a musical instrument, it’ll always be worth it. Whether you’d like to strum your own tune on the guitar, play a pretty melody on the piano, or rock out on the drums, music is one of the most fulfilling hobbies around. And if you need more persuasion, just check out our article; 12 benefits of introducing more music into your life!
14. Cooking and baking
One of the most immediately rewarding solo hobbies is cooking and baking because you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour immediately after!
Both cooking and baking can be inspiring, relaxing, and mindful – and making your own food is also cheaper and healthier than buying microwave meals, takeaways, and baked goods from shops or takeaways.
If you’d like to improve your culinary skills, there are all kinds of ways you can do this while having fun at the same time. You can search for inspiration in the classic way – by buying a new cookbook – but you also don’t need to spend a penny to get ideas or brush up on your cooking know-how.
Why not have a look at some food blogs and websites for tips, and inspiration? Or why not check out some free online cooking tutorials, like Skillshare’s knife skills video tutorial, or their secrets of slow cooking tutorial? Alternatively, head over to the food and drink section of our website for countless articles that’ll make solo cooking more enjoyable – like our 12 tips to make cooking for one easier.
If you’re more interested in baking, it’s worth spending some time improving your technical skills – as being able to knock up mouthwatering loaves of bread, cakes, and brownies is definitely a worthy investment!
There are plenty of in-depth baking courses you can do online, but a good place to start is by having a read of our article; 8 technical baking skills that you can learn at home.
Spending time by yourself is important for many reasons. It’s a chance for self-reflection, discovery, and relaxation – and allows you to balance your emotions and feel rejuvenated.
If you don’t live by yourself, it’s important to have some time alone – and if you sometimes struggle to find it, discovering a new hobby you can enjoy doing yourself is the perfect excuse. Whether it’s heading out for a walk or a run, finding a quiet corner to paint or write in, or losing yourself in music or language, the importance of carving out time for me-time should never be minimised!
On the flip side, some of us may spend more time alone than we’d like, and if that’s the case, you may be looking for new and interesting hobbies to keep you occupied. We hope the activities on the list have inspired you – and when you find a hobby that speaks to you, chances are, the time will fly by, and you’ll be left wondering where the past few hours have gone!
If you are spending more time alone than you’d like, you might also want to consider joining some virtual events over on our Rest Less Events platform. Here, you can get stuck into plenty of new and interesting hobbies from the comfort of your own home, while having the option to connect with like-minded others.