Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Top Ten Hobbies for Singles

It's another lazy Saturday afternoon, and your friends are off doing married things. The day is gorgeous, and you don't want to spend it channeling Mr. Potato Head in front of the TV, but the prospect of hunkering down in a coffeehouse or movie theater by yourself doesn't appeal, either.

What you need is a hobby for one, a fun activity you can get lost in by yourself, which won't feel incomplete without a partner. Better yet, a pastime that's more enjoyable on your own, without someone else tagging along, imposing their chatter on your blissful solitude. Here, then, are Singletude's top ten hobbies for singles:

1. Fitness & Exercise

Could there be a more perfect hobby than one which serves the dual purpose of having fun and staying fit? Exercise doesn't have to be a chore accomplished dutifully at the gym every weekend or a bore you yawn through in front of the TV with Richard Simmons.

Instead, pack your bike, hiking boots, sneakers, or roller blades, and head for a park or bike trail. Fitness is so much more fun when you remember that your eyes have muscles, too, and give them a workout with some breathtaking scenery. Challenge yourself to navigate new trails, observe the natural world living out its seasons all around you, and take a moment to stretch or cool off at a tumbling waterfall or mountain vista.

As always, safety rules apply here. Bring your cell, a trail map, water and a snack, and a first-aid kit; stay in populated areas; don't wander off the trail; and don't go anywhere with a stranger or disclose info about who you are, where you came from, and where you're going.

2. Meditation

If you want to calm your mind and body and center your focus, meditation is one of the best activities you can do on your own. Sit cross-legged with your hands cupped in your lap or resting on your knees, palms upward, back straight, and eyes closed. There are many different ways to meditate. You can read about some of them here, here, and here. One simple method is to concentrate on your breath as it passes through your nostrils, counting each cycle from one to ten if you find that it helps. As thoughts or images surface, acknowledge them without judgment, then let them go, returning to your breathing until your mind is in a quiet, deeply relaxed state. Remain in this tranquil silence for as long as you want.

Alternatively, you may find that repetitive action, as with the suggested exercises in 1., clears your mind in the same way. Another more active option is to practice yoga, which trains the body as well as the mind, increasing muscle tone and flexibility. If you're interested in yoga, it's probably best to start with an instructor or class, but in a very short time, you can put together your own routine and salute the sun through your bedroom window.

3. Collectibles

If you're a collector, you know how satisfying it can be to track down that perfect complement to your collection and proudly add it to your display case. Traditional collectibles include stamps, coins, antiques, rocks and minerals, model vehicles, china, crystal figurines, dolls, baseball cards, comics, and historical, celebrity, and sports memorabilia. However, you can collect anything that strikes your fancy. Some collections are just for personal pleasure, but many contain valuable items that can be sold, traded, or passed on to descendants.

If you have a collection or are starting a new one, you can spend whole afternoons combing antique shops, garage sales, flea markets, and thrift shops for a good deal. Even if you don't find a Hope Diamond, you'll enjoy inspecting the wares and networking with other collectors.

4. Sewing

Yes, that stuff they teach in Home Ec. Under this category, Singletude also includes knitting, crocheting, quilting, needlepoint, embroidery, and anything else that involves working with fabric.

Those who sew describe it as a relaxing, even meditative hobby or as a diversion with TV or radio in the background. The joy of sewing is that it's both pleasurable and productive. After several hours of work, you have a new article of clothing or home decoration to show for your time (or, if not, you have a good prank gift). It's accessible to beginners, who can stitch a hat or scarf in an evening or two, but can be as detailed and complicated as the advanced practitioner desires, and the handiwork of those who are skilled with a needle and thread is exhibited and sold at shops, fairs, markets, and museums across the nation.

5. Crafts

Jewelry. Handbags. T-shirts. Candles. Soap. Stamps. Christmas ornaments. Dolls. Scrapbooks. What do they have in common? You guessed it--you can make them yourself. Visit any Joann, Michaels, or A.C. Moore, and you'll find rows upon rows of all the supplies you need to get started crafting. Some stores offer instruction on the premises, too.

Get creative, get messy, and have a blast. If you have a talent for it, you may even want to give your crafts as gifts or start your own business.

6. Gardening

Tending a plant and watching it grow and blossom is one of the most rewarding pastimes you can have and one with triple benefits. Gardeners use their solitary work as a time to revel in the fresh air and sunshine as well as to listen to that inner voice that is clearest in times of stillness. But the best kept secret of gardening is that all that digging and weeding, the lugging of water and mulch and wheelbarrows, builds muscle and stamina. (Just think of bench pressing a couple of 50-lb. bags of fertilizer!)

Of course, these other merits pale in comparison to the end result, a yard that beckons the gardener into a fragrant fantasia of tropical color or yields up the ingredients of zesty salads and savory pies. (Tip: Buy mostly perennials that are hardy in your zone so they'll grace your garden year after year rather than annuals, which die when the frost hits.)

7. Writing

Perhaps I'm biased, but I highly recommend writing as a form of self-expression that's fun, costs nothing more than the price of pen and paper, and could possibly change your life. And, no, that last selling point is not just an example of hyperbole!

Written works take many forms, and some people who think they dislike writing learn they were wrong when they discover the genre that suits them best. Some people were born to invent stories, others have an affinity for the rhythm and imagery of poetry or lyrics, and still others are inspired by the human interaction at the heart of a dramatic script. A different kind of writer is more interested in the written word as a communicational tool instead of a creative device and gravitates toward blogs, articles, memoirs, or letters.

Finally, there is one more branch of writing that can have life-altering consequences, and that is journaling. Even if you don't consider yourself a writer, you can keep a journal, a record of important events in your life and your associated feelings. Journaling can have a tremendously positive impact on your life if you use it to vent your emotions, reflect on your actions, evaluate choices, and analyze mistakes. Many therapists encourage journaling as a key to growth and healing, but you don't need to be in therapy to do it. Try it for even a month and see if it helps you crystallize your goals, heal old wounds, and get better acquainted with yourself. There are some journaling exercises to help you get started here, here, here, and here.

8. Painting & Drawing

Whether covered in oils, acrylics, pastels, pencil, chalk, or something of your own invention, your canvas will bear the stamp of your imagination. Painting remains one of the most engaging pursuits for the single individual, and though startup costs can be on the expensive side, the beginner can have a finished work of art in hand in one sitting, while for the master, the sky is the limit (sometimes literally in a beautiful landscape). Whatever one's level of expertise, fine art invites self-expression in a simpler, bolder way than any other art form. Plus, painters who work en plein air can delight in the presence of rugged shorelines, snow-drizzled mountaintops, and of course, happy little trees. If the end result is pleasing to the eye, the amateur painter may soon find himself a pro.

9. Music

If you've always wanted to learn a musical instrument or have a dusty woodwind or guitar in your closet, there's no time like the present to start playing. Picking out your favorite tunes and finally hearing the melodies roll off your fingers with finesse will entertain you--and maybe even an audience--for hours. As you improve, you'll enjoy adding your own interpretive flourishes. Eventually, you may even want to compose your own songs, which, like journaling, can both reveal and heal. And not just in the emotional sense.

Unlike any other form of art, music has physical healing properties which can soothe the stressed-out single. Music has been proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, decrease pain, and improve mood.

The only drawback to taking up music is that you'll have to lay out an initial investment for the instrument, which might be quite costly, as well as for lessons unless you have a good enough ear to teach yourself.

10. Photography

Like music, photography is an expensive hobby, but if you have the cash, you and your camera may form a lifelong partnership. Photography is a pursuit for singles with patience and discipline since one session can be 90% waiting and 10% shooting. But half the fun of it is in finding and observing the subject. The other half is in playing with your equipment until you see the image in your head on the LCD screen, and the final half (yes, I know that's too many halves for one whole!), is in trying to capture the essence of the subject on camera, which is where your creativity will get its jollies.

Whether you stick with traditional film or go digital, the camera will be the only companion you need, and along the way to some Ansel Adams material, you just might go places and see things with a lens that you never would've seen without it.

What hobbies do you enjoy alone as a single? What hobbies would you recommend to other singles?

Fun Link of the Day


CC Solomon said...

I have to add that writing is a greaet thing for singles. I know now is my time to get as much as I can in b/c I tend to write less while in relationships and who knows when I'll write when I'm married with kids!
Plus I have more time to sit and reflect on different areas of writing.
The same goes for exercising.
Also what about dance lessons. I've taken salsa, merenge, belly dancing, african dancing. Great social and weightloss activity!

bobbyboy said...

Good stuff Elsie! May I suggest number 11, read Singletude? ;)

Clever Elsie said...

Cat: Dance is a fantastic idea! Thanks for thinking of that. :) You're right that it's a great way to make friends, and once you learn the basics, you can throw on some music and go through your routine at home, too.

It's true, too, that one of the positives of being single is how much free time you have for your hobbies. Like yours, my writing sometimes take a back seat when I'm in a relationship.

Bobby: Now why didn't I think of that? ;)

doubtful dater said...

Exploring! I love to go for walks around my area and exploring the world we live in! I just throw on my head phones and walk... you don't need someone to have fun, you just need an open mind! You never know if you'll see something amazing that you would have missed by sitting at home!

Clever Elsie said...

Doubtful Dater: Yes, exploring! I've run into the best little shops and eateries just by picking a direction and walking in it. And there's something so invigorating about wondering what awaits around the next corner!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'd like to thank Doubtful Dater for making old potential resurface from the murk of the procrastination swamp in the back of my mind. I am very mobile, and have often thought of just taking off here there and everywhere, but have been a bit shy of trying this alone, but sod it, think I'm gonna give it a try! I love my hobbies but I think I am a very insular person. The only hobby I have outside the house is a frenetic and punishing exercise regime (which I love because I am sick that way) my other hobbies are the net, reading, collecting old toys, gaming and very very occasionally meeting a friend for dinner. I do indeed need some different air in these lungs!

I would recommend gaming and blogging and dvd's at home to any single person who finds they can hear the ticking of the clock, although try to keep an eye on how much time you are spending alone! I highly recommend exercise, at a gym if possible as it makes you feel healthier, mentally and physically agile and also makes you look good!

Adios Kids! C xx

EveryoneThinksThey'reGoodDrivers said...

I will suggest horseback riding! Take some lessons! Learn the art of keeping a horse between you and the ground!

Physical, social, spiritual. You can make it what you want.

Skip the hourly trail riding and find a lesson barn. That is where the fun begins.

Otherwise, trade shows. Great people watching and you learn all kinds of interesting things that could be helpful in trivia someday!

Breadmaking is a great hobby too but not good for the waistline unless you have someone you can unload your bread on.

Great post! Love the blog!

Clever Elsie said...

Everyone: Hi! Thanks for commenting and for the compliments on the blog!

I used to ride when I was young, and I still miss it sometimes. It can be a somewhat expensive hobby but is so much fun for those who can afford it. Really any hobby that fosters a bond with an animal adds an extra-special dimension. Not only do you enjoy yourself and get a workout, but you also get the mental and physical health benefits of developing a relationship with another living creature. Great suggestion!

I hadn't even thought of trade shows! I know someone who used to routinely attend trade shows as part of her job, and she did meet a lot of people that way. It's a good place to meet people with whom you have something in common.

Peace: Don't know if you're still out there--I somehow overlooked this comment months ago--but, yes, gaming enhances memory, coordination, and other abilities that researchers are just starting to discover even though it CAN be somewhat socially isolating.

When you think about it, the gym is sort of the antithesis of gaming--a social environment in which the primary activity is physical. If you could go to the gym every day after work and finish out the evening with some gaming, you'd probably have the perfect balance of physical and mental stimulation. :)

Anonymous said...

Excellent list, ironically all the ads below are for dating sites - shame google assumes all single people are desperate to meet their 'one true love'. I shall follow this blog methinks.