After all you’ve been through, you deserve some fun. If money is tight, it’s time to get creative—we’ve found 40 entertaining ideas to get you started.
The Great Outdoors
- Go for a hike with a friend. Exercise is an immediate mood booster to help keep a number of side effects at bay. Hiking is not only one of the most relaxing ways to get in a little physical activity, but it’s also free! If a hike is a little too strenuous, or if the weather isn’t cooperating, try switching up the venue: window-shopping around the mall provides just as much exercise as walking outdoors.
- Enjoy a geocaching adventure. Geocaching, an outdoor recreational activity using your phone’s GPS system to hide and seek “geocatches” placed at locations marked by coordinates, is a great pastime for anyone who has dreamed of being a treasure hunter. Create a free geocaching account to unlock the first clue to a geocache near you.
- Have a backyard campout. Most state and national parks have reasonable fees, but you if you want to stay close to home, there’s no place closer than your own (or a friend’s) backyard. Invite a few others to bring their tents and sleeping bags for a night of s’mores and campfire stories.
- Stargaze. For thousands of years, people have read the stars to navigate, anticipate the seasons and pass the time. If you don’t own a telescope, checkout Meetup to see if there’s an amateur astronomy club in your area. Observatories also host free nights for the public.
- Attend outdoor concerts. In the spring and summer, many cities hold free outdoor concerts in parks. If your doctor approves you being around large groups of people, grab yourself a blanket, beverage and a few snacks. Then settle in to watch the show.
- Start a nature collection. A nature collection is made of found objects like shells, flowers and leaves. Just about anything around your home can be used as a receptacle for the collection. You can even use a book to press flowers.
- Journal. Numerous studies have shown writing down your thoughts can be extremely therapeutic. If you want to escape reality for a little while, let your imagination run wild and write anything that comes to mind.
- Start a blog. If you like to write on a regular basis, why not start a blog? You can use a free platform, like Wordpress, with a free website theme to launch your blog.
- Doodle. If writing seems more like an assignment than a fun way to spend an hour or two, try doodling. Zendoodle is a new form of doodling—drawing designs using structured patterns—that experts say is stress relieving and sparks creativity.
- Listen to your favorite songs—and find new ones. Sign up on Pandora for a free account, and you’ll get access to endless hours of music. The best part is you can create a channel based on a musician or song you like, and Pandora will create a playlist for you. It’s a great way to discover new music in a genre you enjoy.
- Spend a day as a photographer. We take pictures with our phones every day, but we don’t necessarily seek out subject matter. Spend a few hours one afternoon doing just that. Once you’re done, you can share your pictures with others on social media.
- Join a book club. Book clubs are a great way to socialize, and they give you a reason to relax with a good book. Meetup could help you find some in your area. If you can’t get around easily, there are online book clubs you can join as well.
- Start a pinterest board. No matter what you’re currently into, you can use it as inspiration for a Pinterest board. You can add images you find on other Pinterest boards, websites or from your own computer.
- Make a home movie. If you’re like most people, you probably have hundreds of pictures and videos on your phone. With a free editing tool like iMovie or Microsoft’s Movie Maker, you can download the pictures and videos to your computer and bring them together to create a home movie. Once you’re done, you can post the video on YouTube—or email to friends and family.
- Stock up on library loners. Your public library is so much more than a housing facility for books. Today, you can check out movies, magazines and even Rosetta Stone language-learning software.
- Enjoy free birthday treats. Have a birthday coming up? There are dozens of businesses that will give you a gift or discount on your birthday. All you have to do is sign up on the business’s website.
- Go to the museum. In many large cities, museums are open to the public for free during certain times. Check with your local museum to find out if there are any hours or days where you can visit free of charge.
- Visit a local park. The great thing about public parks is the area belongs to all of us. Some parks are so large you could keep yourself entertained all day without seeing everything. Take a walk, sit on a bench with a book, or just enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
- Volunteer for a good cause. Volunteers get free access to events, since they’re the ones making it happen. Plus, you’ll get a lot of residual benefits like reduced stress levels, learning a new skill, making new friends and feeling more satisfied.
- Take part in a religious service. Churches are open to everyone, no matter what religion you practice. Most have services on Sunday, but some also hold events and services during the week.
Fun With Family and Friends
- Enjoy a movie night at home. All you need is a Netflix account to unlock endless hours of entertainment. Invite friends and family over for a potluck movie night—each person can bring candy or snacks to share with the group.
- Practice yoga with a partner. There’s a reason millions of people around the work are avid yogis—it’s relaxing and fun. Stretch out on your living room floor, or grab a friend and find a scenic spot to roll out a your mats.
- Connect with an old friend. Is there someone you truly enjoy talking to but haven’t heard from in a while? Giving an old friend a call to reminisce can be a lot fun and bring up great memories. You don’t even have to tell them about your diagnosis if you prefer not to, and the conversation can serve as a great distraction. If you’ve lost touch, look up your friends on Facebook.
- Break out the board games. Have a good old-fashioned game night! Everyone has at least one board game or deck of cards sitting around. Invite a few friends to bring their own games and make a night of it. There are even games online you can play or print out.
- Sing at-home karaoke. Karaoke is loads of fun, but the hourly rate can be steep. The solution is YouTube’s Karaoke Channel. Play the videos on the TV or a tablet, and the lyrics to popular songs will show on the screen. The channel has dozens of themed playlists to choose from.
- Hang out with animals. Playing with pets is a fun way to relieve stress. Furry friends are such easy-going pals they can actually lower our blood pressure. If you don’t have a pet of your own, you can offer to pet sit for a friend or volunteer at an animal shelter.
- Create a fort. Ask a few friends to bring over their cardboard boxes for a fun afternoon of being a kid again. This is also a great activity to do with your own kids or grandkids. Don’t have any cardboard boxes? Make a fort using blankets and pillows—and just about anything in the house
- Join a community garden. There are so many benefits to being a part of a community garden. Not only will you make new friends and help feed others, but it’s also a great stress reliever as well.
- Hold a paper airplane contest. Get together with a few friends to build your own aircraft out of paper. Create a launching pad and runway to see which design will fly the furthest. The Smithsonian Institute has dozens of paper airplane templates to try out.
- Host a field day in your back yard. Remember how much field day was as a kid? You can easily host your own field day in your backyard. All you need is a few old pillowcases for potato sack races, ties for the three-legged race and a rope for tug-of-war. If you’re a little too worn out to compete, you can act as the referee or schedule a few low impact field day events.
- Create an at-home spa. Trips to the spa can be wonderfully indulgent but extremely expensive. With a little bit of creativity, you can recreate the experience at home. Set the tone by lighting a scented candle and putting on soft background music. Next, use one of these creative at-home spa tricks to pamper yourself.
- Take a break from electronics. Peace and calm can be absolutely priceless—and difficult to achieve in our constantly connected world. Give yourself an hour (or as long as you can stand) to take a break from all electronics. Turn your phone off, find a shady spot outside and let Mother Nature entertain you for a little while.
- Redecorate a room. The setup that worked when you first moved into your home may not be the best configuration now, or maybe you’re simply ready to switch things up. Change the artwork from one room to another, move the furniture around, clear out the clutter—you don’t have to buy a single thing to redecorate a room. There are lots of ideas on Pinterest!
- Learn something new. The Internet is an endless source of information. If you’ve always wanted to know how to do something, you can Google it, and you’ll probably find a YouTube tutorial. iTunes U is another great resource where you can find tons of courses on countless topics.
- Host a yard sale. Instead of spending money, you can make a few extra bucks and cut down on clutter,with a yard sale. If your neighbors are interested in doing the same, organize a neighborhood yard sale.
- Catch up on sleep. Many American adults don’t get the recommended amount of sleep every night, even though it’s critical to staying in good health. If you have extra time, get a little extra shut-eye. Having trouble falling asleep? Try a few of these tips to improve your sleep quality.
- Meditate. Meditation is an effective relaxation tool that can be done in as little as 10 minutes, or you can keep meditating for as long as you like. All you need is a quiet space to sit.
- Create an exercise routine. Physical activity is a part of almost every treatment plan. Actually planning out exercises to try and putting together a routine is a step towards making it a daily habit. Once you have a plan in place (that follows your medical team’s recommendations), ask a friend, family member or your caregiver to be your fitness buddy. Accountability drastically improves your odds of sticking with an exercise routine.
- Craft your holiday/birthday gift lists. You can get a head start on the holiday season and have fun window-shopping online at the same time. Come up with a list of gift recipients, along with a few things each person likes. Next, find and bookmark a few gifts for each person online.
- Plan a vacation. You may not have the time, money or energy to take a trip right this moment, but there’s no harm in starting the planning process early. The Hipmunk app is a go-to for planning out how you will get to your destination. CityMapper is another fantastic free app that can help you find an efficient way to get around on vacation and see the sights. Try it out in your hometown to see how it works.
There are plenty of opportunities to relax and have fun without spending money. Before you do anything too strenuous, be sure to check with your doctor or care team. Enjoy!