Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can still live life to the fullest. Here are a few ideas to rejuvenate your spirit and express your joie de vivre at minimal or no cost.
1/ Get up and dance. I’m not talking about merely turning on the radio and busting a move. I’m saying: get out your old 45s, LPs, the cassette tapes you made in high school, or any CD you haven’t listened to in a while. Put some fun and nostalgic music on and play it LOUDLY. Then work your way around your living room or bedroom or wherever you happen to be, acting like a maniac on the dance floor. (Do this, even if other people are watching. Really… who cares?!) Make a point of incorporating the music you love into every day of your life.
2/ Write a letter to friends or family. Not emails. Not texts. Not phone calls. Use actual stationery and envelopes… and your own, personal handwriting. Your message doesn’t have to be long. It’s just a good exercise that can help you feel like you’re still connected to the finer things in life… things that don’t move at top-speed and are here one minute, gone the next. If you’re short on stamps and live in close range, hand-deliver your note. If you’ve got stamps, use them. Put your letter in the mail and sit back and wait for the happy feeling that will likely head back your way from the recipient. Your surprise letter in their mailbox could make their day… and in return, they might do the same for you.
3/ Cry your heart out. It can feel so good sometimes to get out some pent up, extraneous, stressed-out emotions — especially when you’re crying over something that has absolutely nothing to do with you or anyone you know. A great way to do this is to watch a tearjerker that always makes you cry (like Ghost, Field of Dreams, An Affair to Remember or The Joy Luck Club, etc….). Just be sure to do something fun after the movie’s over… with all-the-more appreciation for the good things in your life.
4/ Clean up a messy room. Adding or reclaiming some “space” in your life can give you a breath of fresh air. Use the opportunity to rummage through everything so you can recycle random items that are no longer relevant (old magazines and catalogs?), throw away broken or now-useless or dirty objects, and gather up items to donate or share with others who would appreciate them. On the plus side, giving your donation pile away to a charitable organization can give you something to write off at tax time. (<<Be sure to get a receipt!)
5/ Rearrange a room. If all of yours are already clean, maybe it’s just time to give them a new perspective. Auntie Mame knew what she was doing. Sometimes, when things stay in the same place too long, they become “expected” and make us “comfortable” in ways that aren’t as healthy as they could be. Making simple changes — putting the couch over there… the TV over there… and a table and chair over there — can help you recreate your home and your mood, because every time you walk into your “new”, redecorated room it’ll feel fresh and interesting (at least for a while). You don’t even have to buy anything new. Just remove the things you no longer enjoy looking at on a daily basis and replace them with something else you do love, which you may have inadvertently hidden away in a seldom-used guest room. BTW, if you don’t feel like rearranging an entire room… how about just swapping out this room’s draperies for that one’s? )
6/ Go for a walk with your camera. Take pictures of flowers, trees, forest animals, a creek or lake, butterfly or bird. Seeing the little everyday beauties in life can help remind you how much life is still going on around you, even if you haven’t been able to treat yourself to a movie, dinner out, or a shopping extravaganza lately. Enjoy the bigger picture of life that’s around you, and make sure you’re part of it.
7/ Stop and smell the flowers. You know that big display of multi-hued bouquets at the grocery store that you pass by when you go through the entrance/exit? It doesn’t cost a thing to lean over and enjoy their fragrance. For a long time now, I’ve made a point of stopping there almost every time I go to the store… on my way in and on my way out. It’s like having my own fresh, colorful, aromatic garden to enjoy… and I don’t even have to manage any weeds or do the watering.
8/ Change your coffee mug. Always drink from the same cup? Change it up according to the season or activity. For instance, I have mugs with great works of art on them. My Van Gogh mug looks like summertime to me, so that’s when I bring it out for daily use. My Degas mug reminds me of something I love to do, so I use it anytime I need a little inspiration. Either way, I get to enjoy something pretty, useful and that means something to me as I sip on my coffee… or hot chocolate… or tea… or water.
BONUS TIP #1: Wear your jewelry. It doesn’t matter if you’re also wearing sweats. Similar to my prior suggestions of wearing “free” perfume or high heels with your jeans, dressing up your regular daily outfits just a little bit can make all the difference in the way you feel about yourself.
BONUS TIP #2: Bake and share. Whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, or blueberry muffins or cheesy dinner rolls… then either wrap them up nicely or simply put a couple of them in a plastic bag that you can leave on your good neighbors’ doorsteps. Or bring them to work and let your coworkers have at them. Not only will you have enjoyed a few minutes in the kitchen, but also the joy of giving to others — for no reason at all other than simply sharing something with them.
Whatever you do, always have fun and enjoy each moment that comes your way.