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. 🙂

    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.)

Trying out Baking for Self-Care

Quite often, when I’m having a down day, I find myself drawn to the idea of baking.

Do I ever usually bake? Nope. Have I ever leaned in to this feeling and tried baking myself out of a slump? (Well, the way I’ve worded that sounds painful…) Nope!

The truth is, I’m not a very natural baker, I can’t usually decide on a recipe and when I’m having a bad day I’m far too lazy to shop for ingredients!

But today, I decided to go with my gut and see if it worked. Surely, if my brain kept turning to baking when I was in a slump, it must mean something? It might make me feel much better. And if not, at least I might get some cake out of it!

So I turned to the ever-trusty BBC Good Food and chose this recipe for banana and blueberry muffins. (I’m in no way sponsored or supported by BBC Good Food, I just love their recipes) I won’t talk through the whole recipe in this post, so if you want to have a go yourself then please head over to their website.

Banana and blueberry muffins

First mountain to climb – going out to buy the ingredients.
I really wasn’t feeling like facing the outside world this afternoon, so I asked my fiance to come with me. We quickly had everything we needed (plus a few things we didn’t need!) and I could get home to start baking. Getting out in the fresh air did actually help to pick my mood up, and I found that I starting to feel excited to get back to the kitchen and start creating – maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all?

ingredients in trolley
Ingredients found – and mini eggs to eat whilst baking, of course!

Once I got home, I laid out all my ingredients. In all honesty, I think that going through the process of laying out the ingredients and taking pictures for this post really helped me to see the process through and make sure that I was being methodical about it. (By the way, please don’t expect very professional-looking photos! No idea how you baking bloggers do this!)

banana and blueberry muffins ingredients

The ingredients you need for this recipe are pretty simple and easy to get hold of. Just what I needed for an easy Sunday self-care bake.

The Baking.

This was such an easy recipe. If I can do it, anyone can!

All you had to was mix together the dry ingredients and leave them to one side whilst you mashed the banana and mixed that together with oil, buttermilk and egg whites. The hardest bit was separating the egg whites – look what a mess I made of it!

stages of baking muffins
Nothing looks good before it’s cooked!

What I really liked about this recipe was that it included hints and things to look out for. For example, it warned me that the muffin cases would end up very full with this amount of mixture. This was helpful, because otherwise I would have under-filled them and been left with leftover mixture.

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Ready for the oven 🙂

In the end, I don’t think I did such a bad job. These were tasty, not too sweet, and just the right size for a Sunday-blogging snack.

Conclusions

So… was it therapeutic getting the kitchen messy and making muffins? Actually, yes it was. I can see why so many people turn to baking and cooking to calm themselves down or cheer themselves up. I felt productive, creative and purposeful. I did cheer up and I enjoyed the process. Of course, having delicious baked goods at the end of it is always a bonus too!

I think that I’d always avoided baking or cooking when I felt depressed because I was scared of it going wrong – I’m not a natural cook – and then feeling worse. However, if I give myself a little bit of forgiveness to make mistakes, go with an easy recipe, and just let myself enjoy the process – this could be a good new hobby for me!

I was surprised just how much this picked up my mood on an otherwise gloomy Sunday.
Do you like baking? I’d love to know what you like making and any tips you have for a novice like me.

Banana and blueberry muffins

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What Self-Care Looks Like To Me

Well, it’s been a while!

I haven’t written a post in quite a few months, which I’m sure not many people have noticed, but I wanted to get back into the swing of things and start blogging more frequently again.

So, this #SelfCareSunday, I thought I’d talk a little bit about what self-care looks like to me…

Preventative Self-Care

barbell on the floor
Photo by Leon Martinez on Pexels.com

I’ve been trying to put more of my time this year into preventative self-careThat is, taking care of myself to keep my body and mind healthy, to avoid any down-turns in my mental health, rather than waiting until I feel the need to use self-care to recover.

One of the main ways I’ve been doing this (hint the picture above…) is heading to the gym. I have a real love-hate relationship with exercise on the whole, but I do know that if I drag myself out the house and go for a jog, or sweat my way through a gym class, I do feel better. This works if I’m in a bad mood, but I have also noticed that on the weeks that I put the effort in to work out more often, I feel better on the whole.

I also like to make sure that I am always getting enough sleep. I am someone who needs plenty of sleep to function properly! I know this fact about myself, so why starve myself of sleep? For me to feel calm and prepared for the day ahead, I need to have had a good night’s sleep.

Self-Care First Aid

white bed comforter
Photo by Jaymantri on Pexels.com

Sometimes (frequently) you have a bad (awful) day, filled with stress and panic, and you need some serious self-care time that evening to recover.

On those days (and there are plenty of them, believe me!) I like to take time to myself to calm down, relax and repair. This will look different all the time, but it usually involves some of the following:

  • Climbing into bed early.
  • Curling up with a good book. (Have you read my post on The Best Book Genres for a Cosy Night In?)
  • Watching Netflix. (I might write a Netflix recommendations post soon, if you’d be interested in reading that then please let me know in the comments!)
  • Cuddling my cat.
  • Cooking up some delicious comfort food.
  • Taking a bath with lots of Dead Sea salts.
  • Stretching/attempting some funny-looking yoga.

 

I have found that doing some more pro-active and preventative self-care has lessened the frequency of those ‘first aid’ days, but sometimes you just have to spend a few hours recovering.

What does self-care look like to you?

 

If you want to read more about my self-care habits, I have written posts before on winter self-care ideas and low energy self-care activities.

 

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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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