A lot of people are getting stir crazy as the weeks of shelter-in-place regulations continue on. It hits me now and then. However, for the most part, I find myself easily occupied with free at-home activities. Over years of learning to save money, I’ve discovered that there are a lot of free things that utilize my creativity. Tapping into imagination and inspiration help keep my mental health stable despite the ebbs and flows of life.
Here are fifteen of the free at-home activities that I’ve been enjoying to stay inspired while saving money during the coronavirus outbreak:
1. Reading Books
I have always been a voracious reader. However, I’ve noticed that my reading choices have changed during this pandemic. Whereas I usually read intense memoirs and detailed non-fiction, I find myself turning to lighter memoirs and novels. I have a stack of books from the library that I got before they closed. I have a stack that my mother sent me for shelter-in-place reading. Plus there are Little Free Libraries open in my area. If I run out of those, I have a shelf of not-yet-read books in my house. I highly recommend choosing print books over ebooks if you can right now. Many of us need less screen time.
2. Listening to Music
If I had musical talent and an instrument at home then I’d probably be making my own music right now. As it is, I just get inspired by the music other people are making. I have been having a blast finding music that I loved then forgot about over time. I’ve also been enjoying finding new music and listening closely to lyrics in a new way.
Technically this isn’t one of my free at-home activities because I do pay for Spotify. However, since I could easily find the same music streaming for free, I’m going to count it. If I had to cut out Spotify from my daily expenses, I could, and I would still enjoy this creative activity.
3. Dancing in My Living Room
I don’t dance every time I listen to music but I do have my own little dance parties with the dogs from time to time. I love finding the songs that make me want to move and then getting a little impromptu exercise at home. I don’t do it for the exercise, though. I do it because it gets me happy.
4. Snuggling My Dogs
I am so grateful that I have pets during this shelter-in-place period. Yes, of course, it’s challenging in some ways. They don’t have the freedom to run off-leash at dog parks the way that they did before all of this happened. But we find walks to go on. Then at home, we get to snuggle. We practice new commands. We play indoor fetch. They really force me to be in the present moment. In the present, everything is okay, and so it’s one of the best things that they do for me.
5. Long Creative Talks With My Partner
I was single until not too long before all of this happened. I feel grateful that I met my person before we had to shelter-in-place. Sure, it would be okay with me and the dogs, but it’s nice to have that human element. What I’m loving is how inspiring it is to just sit around and talk about all types of different things. Without outside entertainment to distract us, it turns out we are pretty entertaining to one another. And while I’m talking about just talking, of course, attention to intimacy is also an added way to improve mood during this time.
6. Phone and Video Conversations, Sometimes
I am so glad that we have such a variety of options for real-time conversations with others as we shelter in place. That said, I’ve also found that phone and video conversations often wear me out. Therefore, I have to be careful with this one. I have to limit it. I am selective about who I choose to speak with and when. But when we do have those uninterrupted, focused-on-each-other talks, they are beautiful and inspiring.
Writing has always been one of my favorite free at-home activities. It continues to be a place where I thrive creatively. I have been journaling and working on creative writing. I would like to add here that this doesn’t mean that I’m filled with inspired creativity at all times. Let’s face it; we are all dealing with a collective trauma that has created a low-grade depression/anxiety around us most of the time. That isn’t conducive to creative output much of the time. Nevertheless, I feel better when I write. It doesn’t have to be the next great journalistic piece of genius. It just has to feel good to get it out.
8. Bucket Lists
I find now to be the perfect time to get creative with bucket lists, vision boards, and other imaginative exercises about future goals. Maybe it’s because so often I find myself thinking, “if we didn’t have to shelter in place, then I would …” and it’s easy to fill in those blanks. I find it fun to create collages and scrapbooks with my bucket list ideas. I like to make books of travel ideas, books of ideas for art projects, and so forth. If you could do anything in the world right now, what would you do?
9. Discovering New Podcasts
There are so many great podcasts out there. I’m finding things that I wouldn’t normally listen to and checking them out. I’m staying away from news and anything dark or heavy, because I want lightness and joy to counteract the heavy times we find ourselves in. I suppose that’s the biggest thing that I’m doing right now to stay happy at home – trying new things that are outside of my regular routine and finding out which ones I like.
I am a huge proponent of crafting as a means of improving wellbeing. Making something with my own two hands always makes me feel good. I crochet. I do a bit of weaving. Of course, the materials mean that these aren’t technically free at-home activities but I already had all of the materials I’m using prior to this shelter-in-place period. I’m not buying anything new. And if you look around your home you’ll probably find that there are arts and crafts supplies in your house, too. You can always do some Googling to find kids’ crafts made with materials you’re likely to have at home. Kids’ crafts are great for everyone because they are low-pressure outlets of creativity.
11. Telling Stories
I usually tell my stories by writing them down. Other people speak them into audio or video recorders. Now is a great time to do that. Imagine that you never get to leave your home again. What do you want the world to know about you? Get creative with getting your stories down.
12. Savoring Each Bite
Many people are enjoying cooking at home right now. If you use food that’s been stocked up in your pantry then you’re not spending anything extra on those meals. I don’t personally find cooking to be too inspiring but I have been taking the time to enjoy mindful eating. In fact, practicing mindful attention to the small things has helped me stay focused and uplifted through this time. Mindful eating, mindful attention to how a shower feels, and mindful sipping of my morning coffee all help bring beauty to the little details of daily life.
13. Having My Own Fashion Shows
I loved fashion shows as a kid. My friends and I would get dressed up and runway walk for each other. I’m not quite doing that right now (although, now that I think of it, that does sound fun!) However, I’m taking the opportunity to declutter my closets. I’m trying on all of my clothes and checking out how they feel. Some need altering. Some can be discarded. Mostly, I’m just getting a fresh look at what I’ve got in my closets. Plus, as someone who has worked at home for years, I find it imperative to get up and dressed each morning – not just staying in pajamas – even if I’m not going to leave the house. I feel better when I do that.
14. Going Through Old Photos
I’m not talking about doing some overhaul too organize all of those photos that you’ve collected digitally for years. If you find sorting and organizing fun, go for it. For me, it’s all about just looking through them. It’s about finding the gems that I had forgotten about and reliving those memories. Life is best when you have anticipation for an experience, savor the experience, and then relive it again through memories. Photos are a great way to trigger memories of happy times.
15. Making Lists of Other Things That Make Me Happy
This is just a short list that is a starting point for me. I keep an ongoing list of things that I can do at home, things that make me happy.
This is a challenging time. When things are hard, it’s often difficult to figure out what to do with yourself. We revert back to habits, often ones that don’t give us joy. If you have a list of things to choose from it’s a lot easier to get motivated to do the things that make you feel better. So I make lists and I consult them.
What are a few of the free at-home activities that you’ve been enjoying to get through this shelter-in-place period?