Five Great Activities for a Happier and Healthier Life on a Budget
Budgeting can be difficult, but often the worst part is how it makes you feel. In order to stick to a strict budget, many people sacrifice activities and enjoyment all together, and this can have a seriously negative effect on your overall happiness. It could even contribute to some mental health concerns. But this doesn’t need to be the case! Here are some activities that won’t result in you needing IVA help & advice or a Protected Trust Deed if you live in Scotland, and might just help you lead a happier and healthier life.
Having a hobby is proven to be beneficial to mental health, with a recent study of university students in New Zealand demonstrating that those with creative hobbies had an ‘upward spiral’ of increased wellbeing.
Hobbies don’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of cheap, budget-friendly hobbies that exist, such as reading and drawing. Why don’t you pick a skill you have always wanted to learn and look online for free resources so you can teach yourself?
This could be a new language, sketching, yoga, creative writing, or even an instrument (if you can borrow one from a friend, or buy one second hand). Doing a little bit every day will be fun, improve your skills, and improve your mental health!
Fresh air is often undervalued as an important part of daily life. It is a great natural mood-booster and studies have shown that, as well as helping with depression, walking outside for 40 minutes a day increased people’s brain size, allowing for better memory and protection against Alzheimer’s.
Luckily, going outside is free and the list of things to do is practically endless. Explore your town, or the next town over; walk, read, draw, or nap in the park; have a picnic! The most important thing is that your brain relaxes.
If you’re up to it, why not take up running? A great way to keep physically, and mentally, healthy is to do exercise. It is free, it will make sure you are getting fresh air, and you will feel physically and mentally better. If you are new to running, start with a walk and build up to a run – the NHS offers a fantastic ‘Couch to 5K’ running plan that can help you.
A Night in with your Mates
You don’t have to spend all your time outside, however. Invite some friends around and have a fun night in! For a movie night, tell everyone to bring their favourite DVD and a snack to share, and you’re spreading the cost to next-to-nothing.
Another great idea is a ‘bring-your-own’, home-made, pot-luck dinner. Get everyone to contribute one dish: a starter, a main, a side, a dessert and drinks, and you have a great dinner party at minimal cost!
You can do the same for your kids when they have their friends round. Tell their parents to drop them off with a snack to share with the group and a favourite DVD, and you don’t have to pay for the food and entertainment for a whole group of children.
Studies have shown that social support networks are crucial to good mental health. Emotional support from friends and family is incredibly important, and affects everyone across all backgrounds. Interestingly, studies have shown that women’s wellbeing benefitted more from friendship than family, as family networks often came alongside obligation and burden. Men, on the other hand, equally benefitted from family and friend networks.
Just because you are on a budget, doesn’t mean you can’t go shopping – go charity shop shopping instead! You can get good quality clothes for as little £3, and sometimes there are serious bargains to be found. Half the fun is hanging out with your friends, trying on clothes and finding deals anyway, so you could even just window shop if you really need to save your money.
Charity shops also often stock household items, or even furniture, so if you need something for your home – make an afternoon of it! Search with your friends in all the charity shops in your town until you find the perfect fit.
If you know you can’t trust yourself not to over-spend, this isn’t the activity for you. But set yourself a limit, and challenge yourself to find the best bargain you can, and you could have a lot of fun!
If you are currently not working, for whatever reason, volunteering can be a great way to fill a gap on your CV. Even if you only have a Saturday Morning to spare, offering a charity a little extra help could never be a bad thing! Many volunteer opportunities will cover the cost of travel, and it is a fantastic way to get you out of the house and meeting new people, for free!
Studies have shown that volunteering can boost mental wellbeing. According to the NHS it can promote: your quality of life, the ability to cope with ill health, a healthier lifestyle, family relationships, and meeting new people.
Ultimately, budgeting can sometimes feel like a serious limitation to your happiness. But there are still plenty of things you can do. The most important thing to remember is, no matter what your situation, try to make sure you are spending plenty of time outdoors, with people, and being active. You don’t have to follow our ideas – be as creative as you like!
But being in debt, and being on a budget, can make the future feel difficult and dark, and could lower your motivation for being sociable and outside. Don’t let it get to this stage before you do something about it – try your best to stay socially and physically active and you can have a happy life on a budget!
16 August 2017
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