What To Do When You Have Too Much Free Time on Your Hands

Does it feel as if you have too much free time right now? Considering how many people regularly complain about not having enough free time, you wouldn’t think that it’s possible to have too much. However, many of us find that a life without time limits is more challenging than we ever thought it could be.

Free time is most enjoyable when it’s consumed in finite quantities, much like chocolate. Or alcohol. And when you combine retirement with lockdown, you might need to make a conscious effort to use all that free time more constructively so that you don't end up feeling aimless and dissatisfied.

Here are a few things you could try...

  1. Appreciate it. It’s a blessing to have a lot of free time. Remind yourself of all those times you wished for more free time when you were still working. If you find you have unlimited free time right now, appreciate it and be determined to make the most of it. You can accomplish a lot right now if you take full advantage of the situation.

    2. Realize that it won’t last. Reminding yourself that this period won’t last forever might be a relief. It’s also a wakeup call to get busy and use this unusual situation to the best of your ability.

    3. Ask yourself how the time could best be spent. Literally ask yourself, “What is the best way for me to use all of this free time?” Ask yourself that question periodically throughout the day and take note of your answers.

    Another question (and one that I'm asking myself a lot at the moment) is: "How could I improve my life right now?". It's amazing how the simplest little improvements can uplift your mood and give you a sense of achievement. The long-overdue application of a little WD40 to the squeaky hinges on two doors this morning  gave me a buzz that lasted until lunchtime. A very minor achievement, I'm sure you'll agree but the squeaky hinges indicated that, for too long, I had been tolerating a situation that needed attention - and now I'm not. I can cross it off my mental list of things to do.

    What are you currently tolerating? Could you use this time to fix your own 'squeaky hinges'?

    4. Indulge your interests. Now is the time to explore and do those things you’ve always wanted to do. Learn to ride a motorcycle or play the piano. Write a novel. Put a pond in your garden. Learn about the birds in your part of the world. Learn woodworking. Plant something.

    5. Focus on self-care. Having too much time on your hands makes it easy to become lazy. Why take a shower if you’re not going anywhere for several days? Why cook from scratch when you can just get a frozen pizza out of the freezer? It’s important to make sure you stay on top of your self-care, though. This means getting enough sleep, bathing, exercising, eating properly, and being kind to yourself.

    6. Do that thing that you always put off. Everyone has that thing they never seem to get around to doing. Maybe the house needs new gutters. Or the attic needs to be cleaned out. Or maybe you’ve sworn for years that you were going to train for a marathon. (No excuses - my dad was still running marathons well into his seventies!) Now is your opportunity!

    7. Make a plan each day. Decide what you want to accomplish today and stick to your schedule. Give yourself a few hours at the end of the day to do as you please but be productive with the bulk of your day. You’ll feel better, accomplish more, and avoid feeling frustrated with yourself.

    If you’re overwhelmed with the amount of free time you have available to you, remember that it won’t last forever. Before long, you’ll be back to wishing you had some of that free time back.

    Take advantage of this unique situation. You’re unlikely to have a similar amount of free time until you’re older  - at which point, you might not be physically or intellectually capable of doing many of the things you can do now.

    Seize the day!

Journaling Prompts to Help You Stay Healthy During Lockdown

1. What does it mean to you to be healthy?
2. What have been your biggest health struggles while being at home?
3. How has your mental health been?
4. What has been causing you anxiety?
5. What are your biggest fears during lockdown?
6. How has your physical health changed?
7. What weight trends have you noticed recently?
8. How has your diet changed since spending more time at home?
9. What is causing you the most worry?
10. How has your exercise routine changed?
11. Are there any home workouts you've tried?
12. Pick at least 3 new at-home workouts you can try in the next week.
13. Pick an exercise you can do with others you live with.
14. What do you think is the most important aspect of nutrition?
15. What are some healthier food items you can add while at home?
16. Try adding some structure to your day, then journal about your experience.
17. How have your cravings changed since you've been at home?
18. Do you feel you tend to eat more when you're bored?
19. Have you noticed any emotional eating tendencies?
20. Go outside to walk and get fresh air, then journal about how you feel afterwards.
21. What is one way you can embrace and take advantage of being at home?
22. What are the main sources of your stress lately?
23. What are some stress-relieving activities you've tried?
24. What hobbies have been keeping you busy?
25. Try creating a new daily routine that encourages healthy habits.
26. What are 5 things you miss from before you were locked down?
27. What are 5 things you look forward to when things get back to normal?
28. Name 5 people you can’t wait to spend more time with.
29. What are 5 things you can be grateful for right now?
30. Make a list of healthy snacks you can add to your diet.
31. How have you been socializing lately?
32. List some ways you can reach out to people more.
33. What is something you've always wanted to try?
34. If your productivity is suffering, what are some reasons you think that is?
35. Give yourself a break – what are some things you believe you've done right?
36. List self-care activities you've participated it while being locked down
37. List some NEW self-care activities you could begin
38. What is a creative activity you can try while being at home.
39. List the main things that have been on your mind lately.
40. When you think of how you spend your time when you're bored, what comes to mind first?
41. When the lockdown is lifted, what's the first thing you plan on doing?
42. How has lockdown changed your mindset?
43. What do you think you took for granted before quarantine?
44. Have you read any books while in isolation?
45. How do you think life will be different moving forward.
46. What are some changes you have made that have improved your health so far?
47. List 10 ways you can be physically and mentally healthier while at home.



At Home Activities to Help You Stay Calm And Centred In Times Of Corona-Related Panic

As COVID-19 makes its way into every facet of our lives, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to remain calm and not panic.

We've been told to stay in our homes in order to prevent spread, but that brings with it the challenge of keeping ourselves occupied without sending ourselves bonkers by focusing our attention on the media and what's happening in the world outside. Try to limit how much news you watch, especially some of the over-hyped reporting that only propagates fear and anxiety. First and foremost, get updates and facts from reliable sources, and then try your best to focus your attention elsewhere.

You can avoid contact with other people and wash your hands more often and more carefully, but your ability to remain calm comes from within. That means you’ll have to take the necessary steps to reduce your stress and anxiety and promote calmness while the virus runs its course.

Here are  three of the best ways that you can stay calm and centred in times of COVID-19-related panic:

Meditation & Mindfulness

If you're feeling anxious and stressed as a result of the rapid spread of Coronavirus and you’ve never attempted meditation or any mindfulness techniques in the past, this is the perfect time to try them out and get some practice under your belt.

According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation can play a huge role in helping you to maintain your mental and emotional health. Here are some of the potential benefits:

  • Stress reduction
  • Anxiety reduction
  • The promotion of emotional health
  • Enhanced self-awareness
  • Increased attention span
  • Improved sleep patterns

The best part is: there are plenty of different types of meditation so you can experiment until you find one that suits you.  For example, if you’re able to focus for long periods of time, you might want to try out guided meditations or visualization techniques. If you’re looking to stay more active while you’re self-isolating or quarantined, you might find that yoga suits your needs better!

Finding a Creative Outlet

You might be stuck in the house for the next few weeks, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept the likelihood that you're going to go stir crazy. In fact, that’ll probably only increase your feelings of panic during such trying times!

This is a great opportunity to try out some new (or resurrect some old) creative hobbies. When you’re focused on building or creating something new, you’re reducing the amount of focus on the negativity surrounding you. That means exercising your creativity is also a great way of helping you to relax.

A creative outlet can be almost anything - so long as you're getting pleasure out of it. (If it's just causing you frustration, it's defeating the object!) Here are a few things you might want to try out (if you have the supplies readily available):

Basically, the goal here is to find an activity or task that requires an intense amount of focus and makes you happy. 

Giving Back & Helping Others

It’s completely natural to be fearful of the unknown but giving back to others can help you to keep your fears at bay. When you’re giving back to the community or helping those in need, you’ll be working to spread compassion and happiness rather than fear and anxiety.

With so many people sick, self-isolating or in lockdown, most people aren’t permitted to leave the home. However, these individuals do still have needs that they now can’t meet on their own.

As long as you’re keeping your distance, not exposing anyone to the virus and not breaking any lockdown requirements, you can deliver food and groceries, chat to them on the phone or do jobs for them such as gardening or carrying out pet care tasks. It’ll make you feel good about yourself while also helping those who need it! So, call your neighbours, post something on your Facebook to let those in need know you're available and how to get in contact.

Final Thoughts

You can’t do anything yourself when it comes to curing or stopping the spread of COVID-19, but there are things you can do that can reduce your panic and invoke a sense of calmness.

By taking advantage of mindfulness, looking for a creative outlet, and even giving back to those who need it, you’ll be able to stay calm and centred, even in these tough times!



More on the theme of 'Doing the Hard Things'

I'm thinking a lot about this theme of 'Doing the Hard Things' at the moment. My reading took me to the following juicy thing to ponder by Reece Robertson: 

When you spend your time in the present consuming anything that doesn’t enable and empower you to reach your future goals and ambitions, life will just start happening to you.

Rather than shaping and creating the future as you desire, things will become increasingly complex, confusing, and hectic. It will feel like you’re a victim of your destiny, rather than the master and creator of it.

Which leads me to the following thought provokers:

How many people in retirement still have goals and ambitions that they're actively working towards?  Do you?  What are they? Are they written down and referred to, often? Are your goals S.M.A.R.T. ones? Are you making solid and sustainable progress towards them?

What are you consuming that doesn't enable and empower you? (Could be the food you eat, the amount of alcohol you drink, the news you watch, television in general, Netflix, social media, the amount of 'stuff' that you own, etc)

In what areas of your life is life 'just happening to you'?

Is life becoming increasingly 'complex, confusing and hectic' for you? How? Why?

And finally... What are you doing about it?



Doing the hard things...

I've been pondering the following Les Brown quote since I discovered it about a week ago:

Les Brown quoteIf you think back, over the course of your life, how often has this been true for you? (For me? A lot! Particularly with regard to finances and exercise!)

And, looking ahead to the rest of your life, are there any hard things you need to start doing now that will make your life easier in the years to come?

Would love to hear what you think in the comments section below...



Do you have a grab bag?

Do you have a grab bag
Friday, 9.30 pm. A ring on my doorbell, a 999 call and a resident from the retirement community that I managed was soon to be on the way to hospital following a particularly nasty fall.

As I stood on the corridor with my resident's husband, waiting whilst the paramedics did their job, my practical side kicked in and I started to think about the things he would need to take with him to get them both through what could be a long night in an A&E department.

Coat, door key to get back into his apartment, change for the coffee machine, details of any medication his wife was taking (and the dosage)... I gently started to question the husband about the whereabouts of some of these items and, because he, understandably, was shocked by the events of the evening, he, like so many other people in the same situation, didn't have the foggiest...

Which brings me to the subject of a grab bag: a bag containing the stuff that you could possibly need if you or your significant other (if you have one) were to be taken to the hospital at short notice. Put together, in advance, in case you ever need it.

What would you need/want to have in such a bag? 

Think about it now, BEFORE you need it and assemble it at your earliest convenience.

Nightdress or PJ's. Dressing gown or cardigan. Slippers. Phone and phone charger. Toiletries. Next of kin details... Get this stuff together now.  It's not tempting fate, it's just sensible and practical. I hope you never need it but, from experience, it makes things a lot easier if/when you do.

If you can think of anything else that deserves a place in a grab bag, please let me know in the comments section below...


9 Ways to Make New Friends

Join a choir. (There are even choirs for people who can't sing - google 'choirs for people who can't sing' or 'tuneless choirs')

Join a book club. (Try your local library for details of clubs in your area.)

Become a befriender. (Befriending.co.uk for a list of local networks)

Volunteer. (Do-it.org - Volunteering made easy: just type in your postcode and see what comes up)

Join your local U3A. (University of the Third Age

Enjoy cycling? Meet up with other cyclists on the Let's Ride website.

Prefer to keep two feet on the ground?  Check out Walking for Health or The Ramblers.

Join a group: there's something for everyone at Meet Up. (Or start your own...)

Get a dog. (You'll get an instant best friend and you'll meet up with other dog lovers on your daily walks.)