Having the same routine every single day for months to years can make you feel like you are stuck in a rut. Do you ever feel like you have no excitement or pleasure in your life? Are you overwhelmed with the amount of work that you have? Do you come home from a long work day only to sit in front of your TV or your laptop until bedtime? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need to spice up your life with some new and exciting activities. You have probably heard about the importance of maintaining “work-life balance” mentioned in our other blog posts and in the media. How do you achieve a work-life balance if you do not have many activities to do outside of work?
It is easy to forget to incorporate some excitement into your daily or weekly routine. This holds especially true for the winter months after the holidays wind down. With spring now just around the corner and the days getting longer, it is the perfect time to step into a new and exciting hobby and achieve a greater work-life balance.
Need a little motivation?
There are many benefits of trying new things, being social and active. Research shows that life satisfaction is related to engaging in meaningful activities rather than a specific activity (Menec, 2003). Thus it is important to find what is meaningful and engaging for you. Scientific literature also shows that engaging in various social and productive activities is related to reductions in functional and cognitive decline in older age (Glass et al., 1999; Lennartson & Silverstein, 2001; Menec, 2003). Participation in solitary activities, such as art, music and theatre, was shown to be related to psychological well-being benefits including happiness and interest in life. While participation in more social activities has a wider range of benefits including greater overall well-being, reduced functional decline and reduced mortality (Menec, 2003). Also, it is worthwhile to note that different activities have been found to have different benefits. Find something that works for you and experience benefits in your work and home lives.
Here are some activities you can try:
- Dance classes – Have you ever had an interest in learning salsa? How about ballroom dancing? Dance classes are a great way to increase your physical activity all the while participating in a new and exciting activity. At the same time, it could help you meet new people or if you are going with a partner or a friend, it can be a great experience to share with them.
- Poetry or Art classes – Let your creativity flourish with some relaxing art therapy.
- Yoga classes – In a previous post, a wide range of physical and mental health benefits of yoga are discussed. Yoga is a great activity that can help you relax and get your mind off your daily stressors and get your body moving.
- Volunteer – Perhaps an animal shelter? With kids with disabilities? At a retirement home? Volunteering is a great way to feel a sense of usefulness and competence (Herzog & House, 1991). Volunteering can also help instill a sense of control and mastery which is positively associated with life satisfaction (Glass et al., 1995).
- Cooking classes – Cooking classes are also another exciting way to spend your free time. You can apply what you learn in classes to meals shared with friends or family.
- Take a class at your local college or university – Want to learn about about a new subject or upgrade your skills?
- Reading club – Reading clubs are a great way to socialize and meet new people that share similar interests.
- Learn a new language – Why not learn a new language? There are many cognitive benefits to learning a new language and this new skill may motivate you to go on a holiday somewhere new to practice you skills.
- Meet groups – Meet new people and try new activities. Socialization and stepping out of your comfort zone could be a great way to put a smile on your face. Meet groups allow you to meet individuals near you that share common interests.
- Hold weekly or biweekly social events with your family or friends. Activities such as movie nights, weekly dinners (taking turns cooking of course) are great ways to stay active with your current social circle.
- Plan a trip somewhere. Trips do not have to involve travelling to another country, you can plan mini-getaways to areas near you. You can also try having a "stay-cation" in your own city.
- Take a challenge with your friends - Fitness challenges (such as the sit-ups challenge) or diet challenges (healthy eating) can be great ways to engage you in a social and active lifestyle.
How will you spice up your life this spring? Write down your goal! Need help sticking to your goal? Check out our previous posts on SMART Goal setting for some goal setting tips.
Glass, T. A., De Leon, C. M., Marottoli, R. A., Berkman, L. F. (1999). Population based study of social and productive activities as predictors of survival among elderly Americans. British Medical Association Journal, 319,478-482.
Glass, T. A., Seeman, T. E., Herzog, A. R., Kahn, R., Berkman, L. F. (1995). Change in productive activity in late adulthood: MacArthur Studies of Successful Aging. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 50B,S65-S76.
Herzog, A. R., Franks, M. M., Markus, H. R., Holmberg, D. (1998). Activities and well-being in older age: Effects of self-concept and educational attainment. Psychology and Aging, 13,179-185.
Lennartsson, C., Silverstein, J. (2001). Does engagement with life enhance survival of elderly people in Sweden? The role of social and leisure activities. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 56B,S335-S342.
Menec, V. H. (2003). The Relation Between Everyday Activities and Successful Aging: A 6-Year Longitudinal Study. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 58(2), S74–S82.