I’ve probably been a bit annoying to be around for the last few months, as the long, grey London winter stretched on, with days at the office instead of travelling or doing my own thing. I’ve been getting a bit fidgety with my day to day life and the city, not appreciating the moment and counting down the days until my next trip abroad.
But in the last month I’ve been so busy that I’ve actually somewhat forgotten about my intense desire to leave London and appreciated living here a bit more.
So here are some ideas about how to make the most of the time you spend at home in your city.
- Take your workout outside
Whether you’re a couch potato or a dedicated gym-goer, all of us could benefit from taking our workout out of the gym and into the fresh air. Now that the weather is gradually becoming slightly less awful, it’s time to wave goodbye to the treadmill for the next few months and get out and about.
Try lacing up your sneaks for a run or walk around your city: along a river or canal, around a park or through the city. Or take a bike ride to a new area – maybe there’s some countryside to explore nearby, or you can swap your bus commute for cycling. Both are great ways to get a new perspective, re-connect with nature and maybe explore somewhere you haven’t been before. If biking and running aren’t your thing, try something new and fun like skating, climbing or wild swimming.
- Party like there’s no tomorrow
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of clubbing, but you don’t have to be an 18 year old raver to enjoy a night out. Instead of your regular Friday night at your local pub, why not try a new event or venue? Maybe that kooky rock bar you’ve been curious about, or maybe there’s a jazz evening you’d like to check out, or how about going and dancing salsa? Plan a night out with some friends, and resolve to try a totally new place.
- Make like a tourist
If you’re anything like me, you probably avoid your city’s tourist hotspots. But you’re missing out! I actually lived in Bath for 5 years and never visited the Roman Baths – how ridiculous! Make a list of all the sights and places around that you haven’t visited yet: museums, galleries, tourist sights, historic buildings, parks etc, and tick them off as you go along. Even if you’ve already seen them all, you might benefit from revisiting them, as museums and galleries often change exhibits, and parks look different at all times of year. Bring your camera and take some photos to print and display at home.
- Check out some events
I’m terrible at this. London is full of events of all kinds, but I tend to press ‘maybe’ on Facebook then forget about them. But wherever you live there’s bound to be something on. Check Facebook groups, local forums, websites, the local paper, magazines like TimeOut or notice boards for local events. You could try anything, such as concerts, lectures, meet-ups, festivals, markets, workshops, plays or productions. Put a few in your diary and actually go.
- Meet some new people
Even if you’re pretty happy with your social circle, we can all benefit from mixing it up sometimes. Join a group for people with shared interests to meet other like-minded folk. Try internet dating or meet-ups for similar people. Or hit up some bars and meet people the old-fashioned way. Try to lose a few of your preconceptions about what kind of people you like to hang out with and give a chance to meeting someone different. It’s a great way to learn about other cultures or other ways of life. Then maybe your new friends can introduce you to other hobbies and things to do.
- Get out, don’t stay in
There’s nothing wrong with a Breaking Bad marathon sometimes, but if you’re spending most of your days at home with the tv then there’s probably something else you could be doing instead. Make the effort to schedule a few social events or trips during the week or at the weekend. I won’t tell you to throw out your tv if you don’t want to, but I think you probably wouldn’t miss it as much as you think.
- Take up a hobby
There are literally thousands of different hobbies that you could be doing, and it’s guaranteed that you haven’t thought of them all. Look up local groups for fun activities like running, climbing or yoga. Or join a group such as a book club, knitting group, gardening group or whatever else floats your boat. I recommend hobbies that are social and get you out somewhere, but you should pick one that suits you. However try to pick one that makes a change and is a bit of a challenge for you. Even if you think you’re not good at something you should give it a try.
- Learn a new skill
Obviously I’m going to recommend that you learn a language! If you’re into travel then languages are a very obvious skill to try to learn. See some of my other blog posts for tips! But if you don’t fancy language learning, or you’re already doing this, then pick a new skill. It could be physical like karate or pilates, adventurous like an extreme sport, creative like photography or painting, technical like programming or something practical like how to make your own clothes or fix household items. Join a class, learn online, find a group or tutor or hire some books or CDs from the library.
I don’t mean you have to forgo trips abroad, but if you’re stuck in your homeland for a while, you can still have a mini holiday to another city. I just spent a weekend in Bristol and recently another in Cardiff, both of which felt like little holidays away from my home and office. It doesn’t have to be far to be a change of scenery.
- Dream big
Start planning your next trip or move. Make a Pinterest board of dream destinations. Read travel blogs and follow some other travellers on Twitter. Make a collage of travel pics in your room. Decorate with maps and pin places you want to go or have been. You get the idea – having something to look forward to can really cheer you up.