There’s a very depressing article in today’s Daily Mail about the high percentage of women in the U.K. who are bored out of their skulls. My guess is the number of American women who feel similar probably isn’t too far off and could very well be even higher. A new study revealed British women blame their boredom on: “a lack of variety amid a daily routine, a limited social life and pressures at work,” as well as not enough vacations, a long list of chores, their appearance, and being broke. Because we can all fall into the trap of boredom now and again — some more than others — and because money is tight for a lot of us right now, keep reading for a list of 10 free or cheap things you can do right now to shake things up and get you out of a boring rut.1. Rearrange your furniture.
If you’re bored with your surroundings and can’t afford to move to a new apartment or buy new furniture, rearrange what you already have where you currently live. Call it “feng shui” or whatever, but a wonderful thing happens when you change your immediate environment. It’s like a release or shift of energy — creative energy — and there’s no telling where it will carry you in other parts of your life.
2. Take a different route to work.
Along the same lines as rearranging your furniture, changing up the way you go to work is a fast, easy, and free way to shift your perception of your immediate environment. It forces you to be more alert, to shift from “autopilot” to taking the reins of the driver’s seat. And with a new route, you may just find things in your area you didn’t know — or had forgotten — existed: a quaint swimming hole, a new bowling alley, a vegan diner. Consider changing your mode of transportation, too: bike to work one or two days a week if you normally drive or get up extra early and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge every Friday instead of taking the B train. You don’t have to go on vacation to get a change of scenery (or routine).
3. Swap “classes” with a friend.
Maybe you’re an expert cook and have a friend who’s a wonderful photographer. Consider giving each other lessons in your respective expertise. Not only will you hopefully learn some new skills, you’ll have an excuse to spend time with your friend on the regular and a new project to devote some of your time and energy to.
4. Cut or dye your hair.
Bored of your reflection in the mirror? If you can spare $50- $100, make an appointment at the salon for a professional cut or dye job. If money’s too tight for that, try a box job or a session with a beauty school student (ask around for recommendations of good/reputable beauty programs, like Aveda or Bumble & Bumble). A new hairstyle can change your whole look, brightening your complexion and shedding years from your age.
5. Shop your closet.
If you’re sick of your wardrobe and can’t afford to buy new clothes and accessories, shop your own closet for long-lost items you may have forgotten you have. Dig through the back of your closet and the bottom of your drawers and consider altering your finds to make them more current. Chop those boot-cut jeans from five years ago into cute cut-offs for the summer and add some pretty ribbons from those chokers you haven’t worn since 1997, turning them into long necklaces. Bingo: new stuff!
6. Host a clothing swap.
So, you’ve shopped your own closet and discovered really cute stuff you totally forgot you had except it’s all two sizes too small since you stopped smoking last year. Instead of beating yourself up for being fat, host a clothing swap where some of your friends can give your old items new life. Ask them to bring two things with them to make it worth your while: a bag of stuff they’re ready to part with and a friend you don’t know. Gain a new outfit, make a new friend: Who’s bored now?
7. Paint your walls.
If you’ve got about $40 to spare, head down to your local hardware store and buy a can of paint and a few supplies and give a room in your home a mini-makeover. Nothing changes the look of a home faster or more dramatically than a coat of paint. Plus, it’s an activity that will keep you busy for at least an afternoon — two afternoons if you add a little vodka.
8. Play tourist in your own town.
Quit whining about your lack of vacation time and funds to go anywhere and play tourist right in your own backyard. But don’t just go to the regular touristy spots — go to the weird places: that bakery where everything is made in the shape of body parts, the park where Marilyn Monroe’s ghost is rumored to haunt, a diner that’s actually an old train car.
9. Set a goal.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to run a marathon or drop 10 pounds or write a novel. Now’s the time to do it! Set a goal, make a plan, and start taking small steps to get there. You’ll be amazed at the renewed sense of purpose you’ll feel as you cross off smaller accomplishments on your way to the bigger goal.
10. Start a blog.
If you’re taking a class from a friend, re-decorating your apartment, touring your own town or working towards a goal, document your progress in a blog. Or think of something clever or funny that hasn’t been done yet, like unfortunately cropped yearbook photos, and start a blog on that and get a book deal out of it and make all your friends who are actual writers but don’t have book deals green with envy. Nothing cures boredom like pissing people off!
What are some of the ways you relieve your boredom?