Whether you’re newly single or have been for a while, trying to figure out what to do with your time when you’re not dating anyone can be difficult. If you’re recently out of a relationship, there’s that whole mourning period you need to get through before you can truly be productive, and if you’ve been single for a few months (or years), you might already be settled with the past and are now looking toward the future. No matter which category you fall in, when you’re not dating anyone, you can sometimes feel like you’re not sure what to do with yourself. In a recent Bustle survey of over 400 millennial women, 45 percent of participants who were single and not dating said loneliness was the most frustrating part of their status.
“Stay busy and don’t wallow negatively in [your] singleness, but instead take this time as an opportunity,” Erica McCurdy, MCC, CEO of TugWaa, Inc and McCurdy Life Coach, Inc tells Bustle.
Being single is a good thing, whether you choose to be or it just happens with the end of a relationship. When people are single, they get to call all the shots and really figure out what they do and don’t want in life. It’s an opportunity to regroup, and everyone can use time to regroup.
Here are 11 other things experts recommend doing when you’re not dating anyone.
9 Things to Do When You’re Single & Not Dating Anyone
“Get to know your values, set goals, and figure out what type of life you want to live,” Jenn DeWall, millennial life and career coach, tells Bustle. “When you have a high sense of purpose and self-awareness it can help dating because it can reduce the tendency to seek approval from others and instead find love in who you are.”
If you were in a relationship that wasn’t right for you, you may have felt like you lost yourself. When you’re not dating anyone, you can get back on track and re-discover who you are.
“Remember all those things you felt like you never had time for when you were dating? Well, this is your time!”says McCurdy. “List out all those things you complained about and start getting them done!”
Seek New Experiences
“Follow what interests you, whether it be a trip to Africa or volunteering at a local shelter,” says DeWall. “Do what makes you happy and more happiness will follow.”
If the key to life, a well-lived life, is happiness, then this is the time to follow your happiness. Being happy isn’t a given in life. Sometimes you need to seek it out and go to faraway places to find it.
Make A Change
After the end of every relationship, I do two things: totally change my hair and get a new tattoo. I also drink a lot of champagne and get the hell of out dodge. But the first two are they physical changes on which I rely to get me up and moving forward.
“Making big changes can be hard when you are dating someone,” says McCurdy. “Now is the time to change your hair color, go for that new makeup look, get that tattoo … or other change. You are only pleasing yourself, so go for it!”
Focus On Your Wants
Haven’t you been putting your wants second long enough? It’s time to change that. This is the time to correct that.
“A great thing about being single is that it gives you permission to focus on what you want and not another person’s happiness,” says DeWall. “Stay in for a night, and find comfort in spending time with yourself.”
Take A Class
“We can only juggle so much at once without burning out,” says McCurdy. “Work, friends, and maintaining a positive relationship takes a significant portion of our time. This might be the time to think about going back to school or simply taking that class that’s been on the bucket list forever.”
Knowledge is power and you can never, ever, stop learning. So do yourself a favor and figure out something you want to learn how to do, whether it’s making fresh pasta or learning Spanish, and take a class in it.
Truly Embrace Your Singlehood
Throw yourself into being single, 100 percent, and just go for it. No matter how each experience turns out, a lesson will be learned.
“Go to weddings or events without a plus one,” says DeWall. “Instead of these being times to judge yourself for being single, embrace it. Think about all of the people, conversations, and experiences you can have without having to cater to the enjoyment of anyone else but yourself.”
Move Your Body
“Endorphins are beautiful things,” says McCurdy. “Get out and move. Our happiness doesn’t and shouldn’t rely on our relationship status, but sometimes we do feel lonely. Doing exercise of any kind keeps our mind and body focused in a positive way while building good habits.”
Even if you exercise only 10 minutes a day, it can have a huge effect on your outlook on life. Anyone can dance or go for a walk for at least 10 minutes.
Learn To Love Yourself
Another great habit to adopt? Body positivity. “[This is the time to] learn how to be body positive and love your body,” DeWall says. When we learn how to be body positive and embrace ourselves for who we are, then we’re really making a great use of our time while we’re not dating anyone.
Get A Pet
“Perhaps this it the right time for you to invest in a different kind of relationship,” says McCurdy. “Having a dog to take on walks or a cat to curl up with you on the sofa might be just the ticket. Pets tend to make us feel better, give us something to take care of, and give us daily interaction. Even a goldfish can give a little lift to the day.”
If you don’t think you have the time or energy to be a parent to a pet 24/7 forever, then consider fostering an animal. It won’t just make you feel good, in more than one way, but you’ll be partaking in a necessary step that helps get animals out of kill shelters and on their way to a forever home.
Time is meant to be spent doing things that make us happy or have a positive impact on ourselves and the world around us. Don’t look at this time when you’re dating anyone as a burden or something you want to rush. Take advantage of it and really make the most of it.