We’ve all entertained the idea of getting away from it all and starting over, particularly when the days seem to drag endlessly on and everything gets to be a bit too much. It’s a tempting notion, sure, but never one to take seriously—not when you’ve got an entire life to leave behind. (Just how practical would that be, anyway?)
That’s not to say there aren’t any ways to compromise and have it both ways. It’s much better to have a brief respite to yourself from time to time than nothing at all, and taking a quick day off to explore the city and do something that makes you happy is something you ought to do every once in a while. Think of it as playing hooky, but for the sake of your well-being.
Spending time on your own, the idea of loneliness or being alone itself, can be a little daunting for someone who’s not used to it, but making a routine of it can be healthy and even lead to self-growth: It helps you learn to stand on your own, figure out your own idea of a good/productive time, and get to know yourself better. Solitude is often equated to quiet time and relaxation, but it can also be for coloring outside the lines and having fun. The feeling of independence and getting to clear your headspace is just a bonus. If you’re stumped on how to spend all your free time, below are a few suggestions:
1. See a show or a movie.
The best time to see a movie by yourself is in the middle of the week—go early in the day if you’d like to have the theater to yourself (sometimes every seat will be empty except your own). There’s something freeing about the idea and the act: You can see any movie you want, even the embarrassing ones, you get to have a whole row to yourself, and you can just focus and unwind. If you want to let loose even further, why not try plays and other theater productions as well as concerts and live music events?
2. Be a productive homebody.
Take on a home project you’ve been meaning to do or always wanted to try out, whether it’s a functional DIY you saw on Pinterest, redecorating your room and decluttering, organizing your bookshelf, learning to take care of repairs yourself, or even finally whipping up an elaborate recipe that’s been bookmarked on your browser forever. Blast some Carly Rae Jepsen and dance and sing along like nobody’s watching while you’re at it.
P.S. Grocery shopping is also therapeutic in its own way. With the right playlist, it can feel like a walk in the park, with the added bonus of being able to grab some stuff you need.
3. Go to a fancy restaurant and confidently say "table for one."
Sometimes it’s nice to get dressed up and go out even when you won’t have company, and it’s not such a bad thing at all to have a table all to yourself at a really good place, ordering whatever you want with your head held high. It’s also the perfect time to sneak in some quality time with a book so you can get through your reading list.
4. Take your journal out and make no plans.
Artist and Wreck This Journal mastermind Keri Smith drew a popular mini-comic of instructions on how to wander that have always seemed like they would amount to, if not a perfect day, then a pretty wonderful one. Bring your trusty journal, or take this as an opportunity to start one, pick a direction or vague idea of a destination, and see where it leads. You may just find yourself at a café or some similar surprise spot that feels like your new best-kept secret, and you can let yourself take a seat and spend hours writing and doodling to unspool your thoughts.
5. Explore like a tourist with a disposable camera.
Sure, Gudak and other photography apps that produce analog-esque photos are fun and super handy, but nothing beats the real thing. Buy a disposable 35mm film camera (maybe with black and white film to keep things interesting?) from a specialty shop like Film Folk and take it everywhere with you for a day. The exercise will challenge you to view a city or place you’ve known forever in a whole new way, and you’ll have to look carefully for interesting subjects and scenes to capture. The feeling of seeing the results once the roll is processed never ceases to amaze, and you just got dozens of new pics to put on Instagram.
6. Go gallery-hopping.
Take a cue from the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off and check out some art in a museum or a gallery. It would be cool to traipse around the whole metro and go from city to city to visit the likes of Calle Wright, West Gallery, and Blanc Gallery, but if you only have time for one area, Karrivin Plaza is home to 1335 Mabini, Bellas Artes Outpost, and Artinformal 2, among others—and it’s also near La Fuerza compound, which holds a few more galleries. When you’re done getting your fill of artwork and culture, treat yourself to a Poison doughnut or two.
7. Book the Airbnb of your dreams in the city, just because.
Splurge a little and go on a staycation in a beautiful house (think a gorgeous modern loft in Makati or a heritage house with a patio in old Manila) for the ultimate low-commitment, no-worries escape. The best part is getting to browse listings and finding exactly what you need, not to mention getting to live in your mood-board home, if only for a night—whether it’s large windows with panorama views of the cityscape, an infinity pool, or just lightning-fast WiFi for your planned Netflix marathon, you’re sure to stumble upon something.