Who doesn’t like having fun? While everyone may have individual preferences as to what constitutes having fun, research makes one thing clear: having fun is highly beneficial to our physical, mental, and emotional health. Studies have shown how having fun can reduce stress, improve sleep, increase serotonin and endorphins, and keep us moving more, among countless other day-to-day benefits. These day-to-day benefits can in turn contribute to longer-term benefits for our health, such as preventing heart disease and diabetes.
When we have a budget for our spending, “having fun” is generally not prioritized as a high-spend item considering it’s often viewed as a want and not a need. The good news is that we can prioritize having fun without having to prioritize spending money on fun. Whether solo or with others, having fun can be a positive, inexpensive investment in our health worth prioritizing!
Here’s a list of just a few ideas for cheap, feel-good fun.
- Host a Game/Puzzle/Craft Event: Do you and your friends and family enjoy competing over a Monopoly or Scrabble board, or a fast-paced card game? Maybe you have a grandparent, parent, or neighbor who enjoys putting together puzzles, knitting, making jewelry, or other inexpensive, crafty activities. Hosting an event dedicated to these activities can be a great way to bring people together and learn something new! Though we may have differing interests from the people that surround us, there is usually some activity that we can find common ground on enjoying or learning how to do, even if it’s just for one afternoon.
- Observe and Make Art from your Surroundings: In both rural and urban areas, there are usually many free spots that are good for people-watching, such as museums and parks in urban areas, and libraries and farmer’s markets in more rural areas. By yourself or with others, take a notebook and supplies to one of these spots. Maybe come up with a prompt beforehand such as “write a poem about someone you see wearing red,” or “see someone wearing blue and make up a short story about their favorite (fictional) childhood memory.” Or, simply let inspiration guide you as you write, draw, paint, or take photos of your surroundings. Our imaginations are one of our most powerful tools, and the more we feed them, the easier it will be to find entertainment and fun wherever we are.
- Learn a new (maybe silly) skill or party trick: Whether it’s something just for fun like juggling, memorizing a dance routine, nailing a celebrity impression, building a Lego set, or learning new trivia fun facts, or something a little more practical like using a drill, making bread from scratch, herb gardening, or speaking a new language… the world, and Youtube, are your oyster for learning! Remain curious and eager about your capabilities. You may surprise yourself!
- Visit or Volunteer at an Animal Shelter: If you like spending time with animals, volunteering at an animal shelter or even visiting places such as cat cafès can be highly rewarding and boost your mood. Playing with animals can give you a little movement in your day, and who knows, maybe you’ll meet a new walking buddy, whether with two or four legs!
- Explore your Local Community: Maybe there is a park you always drive past on your way to work but have never visited, or a walking trail you’ve heard good things about but haven’t taken the time to check out for yourself. Maybe the community center hosts a monthly field day for community members, or pick-up kickball, or a book club. Maybe a local artist is displaying their artwork at a coffee shop nearby. If you find yourself in a rut, taking time to explore the things you’ve always intended to or finding a new, inexpensive, close-to-home activity to participate in can be a healthy and sustainable way to get out of it.
- Become an Expert: Is there something that’s always piqued your interest, such as a specific musician, movie, book series, historical event, etc. that you haven’t had the chance to devote time to learning about? Try learning about it in unconventional ways, such as from library archives, virtual webinars, documentary series, or simply reaching out to experts and questions about what you want to learn. Knowledge is power, and who doesn’t love being an expert on a niche topic?
It’s easy to see that we don’t always need money to have fun. If we have creativity, imagination, and the willingness to try something new, the possibilities are endless. As we set aside more time in our lives for fun, it will feel less like a purposeless inconvenience and more like an exciting, health-enhancing adventure.
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