30 Free or Low-Cost Activities for an Empty Day

Although I love the idea of an empty schedule at the weekend, the reality is that I usually end up feeling a little lost when I have nothing to do.

This is where I found myself this weekend. Up bright and early, having completed my Saturday morning workout class and met a friend for coffee, I was then left with a long stretch of Saturday ahead of me, with nothing to do. Sometimes, that sounds like bliss. On this day, however, I just felt a bit lost.

I didn’t want to sit in the house all day, I didn’t want to waste a whole Saturday, but I didn’t have any plans or ideas that weren’t going to take a chunk out of our savings. We’re always trying to save money, as I’m sure you are too, therefore a Saturday afternoon window shopping or going to the cinema was out of the question.

book in the girls hands
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

It occurred to me that I can’t be the only person who, even as an adult, finds themselves crying out ‘I’m bored!’ on those empty days, but curses their lack of funds to go for a fun day out. So, here are 30 ideas for either totally free, or very low-cost, activities for when you’re just, well, a bit bored…

  1. Read a book.
    Of course this was going to top my list! Nothing beats curling up with a good book for an afternoon. In the winter, grab a blanket on your sofa. In summer, grab a blanket and spread it on the grass! Lose yourself for a few hours in a good book. (If you need some recommendation, try this post.)
  2. Browse your local library.
    Similar of course to number 1, but good for more than just one read. Find a topic to learn about, browse the magazines, or find a new fiction read. Libraries are a great place to lose a couple of hours! They need your support and they’re totally free – bonus!

    blur book stack books bookshelves
    Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com
  3. Watch a TED Talk.
    There are hundreds of great talks on Ted.com that are inspiring and educational. There are also now TED courses where they will suggest a collection of talks, reading, and discussions on a particular topic for you. Well worth an afternoon.
  4. Learn about something new on Wikipedia.
    Similar to number 3, but better for topics like history or geography. Go on a Wikipedia dive, click on anything you find interesting, and see how much you could learn in an afternoon! You could even take notes if you want to preserve what you learn.
  5. De-clutter one room in your house.
  6. Watch educational or interesting videos on Youtube.
  7. Go for a walk.
    An old faithful. No fancy equipment needed and even if you live in the middle of a big town or city, you can enjoy the local views and head out for a walk. Put on your trainers, fill up a water bottle, and just see where you end up. My husband and I talk walking and share recommendations over at our other blog.)
    mrs w walking in woods

  8. Play Pokemon Go!
    Need another excuse to get out for a walk? If you’re a 90s child like me and want some retro nerdy fun, download Pokemon Go and take a friend on a Pokemon adventure – one of mine and Mr W’s favourite pastimes!
  9. Grab an adult colouring book and colour away your stress.
    I’m currently loving this Game of Thrones colouring book!*
  10. Use the clothes you already own to style some new outfits.
  11. Deep clean one room in your house – or do a bit of a Spring clean everywhere!
  12. Visit a local museum.
    Loads of museums are free to visit, so see what’s open near you.
  13. Try some creative writing.
    It could be a blog post, a short story, a poem… No one else ever has to read it, but it will stretch your creative muscles and you never know what you might end up with. šŸ™‚

    Self-care journalling in notebook next to laptop
    Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com
  14. Listen to a podcast.
    I only discovered podcasts properly in the last few months, and I’ve already found loads that I love and that I learn loads from! There are podcasts on any subject you can think of and they’re great to listen to whilst walking or doing other chores. A couple of my favourites are ‘My Favourite Murder’ and ‘No Such Thing As A Fish’, but let me know if you’d like to see a post listing some more of my favourites on different topics.
  15. Drive to a nearby town or village and just explore.
  16. Do some light stretching or foam rolling your muscles.
  17. Follow a yoga video on Youtube.
    Don’t be intimidated by yoga when you see all the amazing yogis on Instagram doing headstands! Try following videos by someone like ‘Yoga with Adriene’ on Youtube for some beginner-friendy light stretching and strengthening.
  18. Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  19. Write someone an old-fashioned, hand-written letter.
  20. Have a long hot bubble bath.
  21. Do a proper skincare routine for once!
  22. See what dishes you can cook or bake from ingredients you already have at home.
    I recently tried out a really easy recipe for blueberry and banana muffins, why not see if you have the ingredients already to make those?
    Banana and blueberry muffins
  23. Look up some journalling prompts online and give journalling a go.
  24. Go litter-picking.
    If you live near a park or natural area that you know gets cluttered up with rubbish, why not incorporate a bit of litter-picking and recycling into your walk?
  25. Make or buy your favourite comfort food.
  26. Have a proper Netflix binge!
  27. Have a movie marathon.
    You could watch a series, like Harry Potter, or a pick a theme such as horror. Popcorn optional.
  28. Spend some quality time with your pet.
  29. Sort out your budget.
    Spend some time sorting out your finances. Future-You will thank you!
  30. Build a blanket fort.
    Trust me, you’re never too old.

Are there any ideas that you would add to this list? What do you on your bored, empty days?

See you again soon!

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* (Please note that starred links are affiliate links to the Book Depository. You won’t be charged any extra for any books you buy through those links, but I will earn a small commission.)

5 Winter Self-Care Ideas

There are lots of things to moan about in the winter – who really likes the dark evenings and stepping in a huge puddle? However, there are also lots of things to love about the winter too. Like the lighter mornings, the crisp, clean feel to the air, and the atmosphere of celebration around the holidays.

The cold weather and the dark can take their toll on your mood if you’re not careful – as can the holidays, which are often difficult times for people, for all sorts of reasons. For these reasons, it is really important to take care of yourself in the colder months. Self-care can be a solution to a bad day or, even better, a preventative measure, carried out little and often to help keep those low days at bay.

Here are 5 simple self-care ideas for you to try out this winter:

  1. Put on clean bed sheets. (Bonus points if they have a wintery pattern, are fleecy, or accompany your change to the ‘winter duvet’.)
    There’s nothing quite like climbing into your bed at the end of the day when the sheets are brand new and super comfortable. If you’re having trouble sleeping, make sure your room is at the right temperature for you and perhaps try a sleep spray or a hot milky drink as well.

    white bed comforter
    Photo by Jaymantri on Pexels.com
  2. Bake a treat for someone.
    Baking on its own is often therapeutic, but why not add on the additional joy of taking what you’ve made and sharing it with someone. Maybe your co-workers would like a Monday pick-me-up, or an elderly neighbour would really appreciate the gesture? If you’re not a confident baker and want to start off with something more simple, the packet mixes you can get from supermarkets that just involve adding water or eggs are brilliant. They are also great for baking with young children!
  3. Wrap up warm and go for a walk.

    a thick scarf and a hand holding a hot drink
    I love to grab my collapsible coffee cup, put on a thick scarf, and go for a long walk.

    This is one of my favourite activities, despite the cold weather. When it’s a dry but cold day, I love to wrap up in my cosiest jumper, a thick scarf and a woolly hat, and head out for a walk. If I’m going by myself, I’ll often take a book to stop off somewhere and have a read, or I’ll listen to a podcast whilst I walk. If it’s me and my fiance walking, we’ll often play Pokemon Go on our route, or just enjoy the time to talk with no distractions. My reusable cup filled with coffee often joins us on the walk too! This activity is great for your mind, as well as getting your legs moving and incorporating a little bit of exercise into your self-care routine.

  4. Read a book in bed.
    Simple, classic, and a perfect activity for a wet and rainy day. Grab a hot drink, curl up in your duvet and appreciate having the time to do nothing except read your favourite book. For winter reads I particularly love horrors, thrillers, historical fiction and crime novels.
  5. Have a totally indulgent hot bath or shower.
    bath-blur-brush-275765.jpg
    I know that I’ve said before that self-care is about more than just hot bubble baths, however sometimes that is exactly what you need. Treat yourself to a warming and relaxing bath to escape the cold weather and relax. If baths aren’t your thing, just allow yourself the indulgence of not worrying too much about the hot water bill for a few minutes and whack the heat up on your shower. Choose a luxuriously scented shower gel, sing as loud as you like and feel the tension melt away.

 

What do you love most about the colder months?

Hopefully, if the cold weather has got you feeling blue, there are a couple of ideas here that can help you take care of yourself. (If you think you’re low feelings are more serious, or that you may be suffering from SAD or similar, I urge you to seek advice from a professional.)

Happy winter!

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pumpkins and sunflowers in autumnal spread

How to Survive Halloween as an Anxious Person

I love Halloween! I love the spooky stuff, the abundance of pumpkin-spiced-everything and the cold creepy nights. However, as someone who suffers with an anxiety disorder, I do know that not every Halloween activity suits people with anxiety problems. If you find this time of year nerve-wracking, or want to join in with social events but get nervous doing so, here are a few ideas of how to survive Halloween as someone with an anxiety disorder:

Horror Films

Scary films are a huge part of Halloween for some people and something that I often enjoy. However, on a bad anxiety day, they aren’t ideal, and you may well think that horror films sound like an absolute nightmare!Ā (Pun slightly intended…)

The main thing is that you always feel like you can say no. If you don’t want to watch a scary film, just say no. Any real friends won’t mind and will probably change their plans to accommodate you.

popcorn with cinema ticket

If you feel like you can watch a scary film, there are a few things you can do to prevent extra anxiety. First, watch them at home. That way you can pause the film if you need to, you’re somewhere familiar, and you can leave some lights on too. Also, avoid particular triggers if you know you have them. For example, my anxiety is often triggered by medical scenarios, so I will often avoid films that are set in hospitals or similar. Lastly, have a quick self-check before the film starts. Are you in the right mindset to watch this film? Is there anything you need to make yourself feel more comfortable?

There are also plenty of films that are more ‘comedy spooky’, rather than full-on horror. Think ‘Hocus Pocus’!Ā (Which I’ve never actually seen and desperately want to watch this month!)

Books

If you’re desperate to consume some Halloween-y media, but can’t stomach a horror film this year – why not try a scary book instead? The bonus of books is that you can close them and walk away very easily if you need to.

For a traditional ghost story, I would recommendĀ The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and for a superb psychological thriller I loveĀ Misery by Stephen King.*

The Haunting of Hill HouseMisery

Horror Mazes or ‘Scare’ Events

There’s a ‘scare village’ event near where I live that I really want to go to this year, but I sometimes really struggle with live-action horror events. Every year, you will see this style of horror event or maze pop-up. For example, the ‘Fright Night’ events at Thorpe Park. I have done these type of mazes before, but I’ve also avoided them before, so hopefully my advice can help you if you want to go to one of them.

First, remember that the actors are not allowed to touch you. You are completely safe and are in a controlled environment. Keep telling yourself that the whole event is completely fake and the performers and organisers are there to keep you safe, if a little scared.

Calm vs Panic signs with blurred beach background

Secondly, remember thatĀ you can always get out if you need to.Ā I have, on two occasions, left scary themed events early and on both occasions, staff were really understanding and accommodating. You won’t be the only person leaving early and you can always say you feel sick or unwell if you don’t want to say that it’s anxiety. A few years ago, I was in a queue to enter the ‘Chamber of Horrors’ section of Madame Tussauds in London and I just felt like I couldn’t go in. They had a sign that informed you that this was your last chance to leave before entry (check for these points – there may be some times when you won’t be able to leave, and you need to know that) and I decided to leave. I told a member of staff, told my friend, and we went to get some food instead! No one minded and it meant that I could take time to calm down and try a different activity.

You are always allowed to leave. Sometimes just knowing that escape is possible will be enough to calm you down!

Halloween Parties

If you’ve been invited to a Halloween party, then there are two important things to know:

  1. I’m very jealous of you. I love Halloween parties and no one I know ever throws them any more!
  2. You don’t have to go.

Number 2 is really the important one there, of course. If you’ve been invited to a party, you don’tĀ haveĀ to go. Now, if you know that you have a tendency to hermit because of your anxiety, and you will actually have fun with your friends if you drag yourself there, maybe it is good to do just that. However, if you’re really panicking, don’t force yourself to go to a big party that scares you. If you do go, make sure you can get home early if you need to. Drive yourself, walk, or don’t rely on a hard party-goer for a lift home.)

Now… IĀ loveĀ fancy dress so I love dressing up for Halloween, but I know that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and you might feel anxious about people looking at you. However, think of it this way – if everyone in the room is in costume, and you aren’t – who are people more likely to look at? If you’re not big into fancy dress but want to blend in, I’d suggest something easy and subtle like the traditional witch’s cat. Wear all black, put on some cat ears and make a tail out of black tights and scrunched up newspaper. Done! Also, this would be easy to hide during travel if you need to get public transport – just put the ears and tail in your bag until you get to the party. Similar ideas might be a witch (black dress, hat and broom) a devil (black and red clothes with devil horns and a pitchfork) or a vampire (more black clothes, pale make-up and some fake teeth.)

pumpkins and sunflowers in autumnal spread
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

And if you’re friends really want to celebrate Halloween, but none of these activities are for you, why not suggest one of these:

  • Pumpkin carving
  • Halloween-themed baking (pumpkin traybake anyone? I have to try this one!)
  • Halloween crafts (do you have any young relatives you could do crafts with? most kids I know love Halloween and they don’t do anything too scary!)
  • A board game night with a spooky twist. (I’d recommend Plague Inc. which is a brilliant plague-themed game. You could also play Cluedo for some old-school murder mystery feels!)

And last, but by no means least, keep up your self-care. Perhaps by trying out the #SelfCareTogether challenge that Pigletish is hosting this month. Halloween is a very social holiday and you might be surrounded by triggers for your anxiety for a lot of this month – so make sure you are taking care of yourself, and having moments of calm whenever you can.

Happy Halloween!

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* Please note that Book Depository links in the post are affiliate links. They cost you no extra money, but if you buy a book through my affiliate links I earn a small commission.