It happens to all of us. We come home from a long day at work, exhaustion creeping into our every movement, and we plop down and pull out our phones. Whether it’s a conscious decision or not, we begin to scroll, watch, or otherwise mindlessly consume media. Then we look up, and the small pool of blue light from our screen is the only blip in a pitch-dark room. The day’s completely over, and we feel like we’ve wasted it.
The average 9-5 worker gets about two to four hours of free time per workday after all is said and done – If they don’t have children, pets, or a partner to eat away at that time as well. Two to four hours a day per weekday for 50 work weeks a year equates to roughly 750 hours a year. 750 hours breaks down to about 31 days.
You get one month of free time a year, and if you spend even one hour a day scrolling through Instagram, that time is cut down to about 21 days. If your social media screen time surpasses 2 hours a day, you’re looking at under 10 and a half days of free time a year. That’s roughly a week to yourself where you aren’t staring at a screen.
If you, like many of us, have found yourself in a rut of not quite knowing what to do with yourself when you aren’t on your phone, consider picking up a hobby. If you’re staring at the hefty price tag on a gaming console or wondering how you’ll be able to afford pottery classes, don’t worry. None of these hobbies require more than $50 to pick up.
Whether or not you feel comfortable mingling with others, there are plenty of enriching and inexpensive interests for you to try out.
If you’re looking for a fun new way to mingle:
Join a Running Club
While running solo is an amazing way to get some peace and quiet, running with a club is a great way to make new friends, find new routes, and hold yourself accountable for remaining active. Since running can be so brutal on the body, getting tips and tricks from others that may be more experienced than you can be truly beneficial in preventing injuries.
If you’re willing to shell out a little cash for a community with more resources, events, and races check out the Atlanta Track Club. For $35 a year, you get access to their running community, organized group walks and runs, a subscription to their monthly magazine, various discounts, guaranteed entry to the AJC Peachtree Road Race, and more.
There’s also the Front Runners Atlanta, an LGBTQ specific club that meets for weekly runs every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning. They also host an annual Pride Run 5k.
There’s also the Atlanta Run Club. When you join them on their weekly runs, you have the option to “count your miles” towards their current “Miles for Change” campaign. Their current campaign utilizes funds to feed families in the Buford Highway community.
Join a Book Club
If running for fun sounds like absolute torture, try joining a local book club! You can either organize one yourself with friends, family, and coworkers or you can look on websites like Meetup.com to locate in-person or virtual book clubs. Acapella Books in Inman Park also hosts a variety of both online and IRL book clubs as well. (Atlanta Track Club also has a book club called “Runners Who Read!”) Try finding book clubs focused on genres you already love or check out something completely new!
If you’re looking for a way to enrich your alone time:
Send Some Snail Mail
Do you remember the last time you opened your mailbox and found something other than a bill or junk? It’s always a nice surprise to see that someone thought about you enough to take the time to put pen to paper and pop it in the post. Whether you simply want to spark some joy in your neighbor’s life, or you want to find a creative way to keep in touch with far-flung relatives, snail mail is a fun, inexpensive way to connect with those you love. You can stick to a simple letter jotted on notebook paper, or you can move into more extravagant spaces, creating elaborate cards with scrapbooking paper, washi tape, and wax seals.
All you need to cross stitch is monk’s cloth, embroidery thread, and a tapestry needle. You can purchase an inexpensive pattern from a local craft store, or you can create your very own using a website like stitchfiddle.com. Try cross-stitching your favorite cartoon character or your best friend’s catch phrase for a fun birthday present. Many people find that the simple repetitive movements of cross-stitching and the mindfulness required to count stitches and concentrate can work to soothe stress and anxiety.
If you spend much of your time at a desk, on a couch, or otherwise sedentary, you could likely benefit from practicing yoga. All you really need is a mat, and you can even get started on a blanket! Yoga can bring mindfulness and bodily awareness into our otherwise hectic lives, and it’s been proven time and time again that stretching and movement are immeasurably beneficial to both our mental and physical well-being. If you’re looking for an instructor to follow along with, check out Yoga with Adriene on YouTube.