20 Ideas For Activities That Can Help Keep You Busy

Do you constantly find yourself staring at your phone and refreshing the same apps out of boredom? Do you feel like you're stagnating or like your brain is never challenged? Does your body ache or feel jittery on a consistent basis?

Sometimes that's because you aren't keeping yourself busy enough. You don't have to spend every waking minute in motion, but you shouldn't find yourself constantly bored. That's a sign that you need to find something to engage both your brain and body.

I've made a list of twenty activities you might try the next time you're bored. Each has a few different ideas to get you started. On the list you'll find:

  • Outdoor recreation.
  • Physical fitness.
  • Creativity.
  • Mental stimulation.
  • Digital skills.
  • Potential goals.

No matter what kind of lifestyle you lead or what sorts of activities you enjoy, there should be something for you on the list. Some activities are team and socialization-based, while others can be explored alone.

1

Indoor Tabletop Games

Ping Pong

Ping pong, otherwise known as table tennis, is a game played with paddles and a lightweight ball. It's more fast-paced than tennis.

You can play with one person, or you can prop the table against a wall and play solo.

Indoor Tabletop Games

Air Hockey

Air hockey tables usually require electricity. The surface uses air currents to raise the puck so people can hit it back and forth.

It's a fun game often found in arcades, but can be expensive to have at home.

Table Football/Foosball

Table football is colloquially called "foosball" in the United States. With it, you use miniature "players" to hit a ball back and forth across the table. Whichever player sinks more goals wins.

2

Outdoor Relaxed Recreation

Golfing

Golfing is a relaxed and common summertime pastime, especially for retirees. It requires skill and strategy without being physically taxing.

If you don't have the money or aren't sure where to start, mini golf is easier and can be just as fun. Or you can get a set of clubs and hit the driving range to get some practice in.

Paddle Boarding and Golf

Paddle Boarding

Paddle boarding is like a strange mix between kayaking and jet-skiing.

You stand up on the craft like a jet ski, but you paddle slowly through calm waters rather than being whipped around by a boat.

Swimming

Swimming is a versatile activity that can be done indoors and outdoors. During the warmer months, you can go swimming in a pond or lake.

Swimming is also permitted at some ocean beaches, though you should be familiar with how to recognize a rip tide, as being pulled by one can be fatal.

Swimming and Biking

Biking

There are some exercise bikes that let you pedal while staying stationary. But biking on an actual bike lets you go on all kinds of adventures!

You can explore your neighborhood or town, practice your dexterity in your driveway, or go farther afield. Mountain bikes are made to handle rougher trails, while speed bikes let you gain power on flatter ground. You can also look for trails in your area!

3

Target Accuracy

Crossbow

A crossbow is a tough weapon to master. It's extremely heavy and difficult to aim, especially without crosshairs for sighting.

Crossbow

Because of this, many marksmen make it their life goal to master it.

Archery

Archery requires a lot of practice and upper body strength. It's best to have someone who can show you the proper stance and technique.

Chances are, you won't hit the target your first few times. But when you do - phew! It'll be exhilarating.

Archery and Slingshot

Slingshot

Slingshots require the least physical strength, but they're also the hardest to master accuracy-wise. There are tons of variables to account for when aiming.

Slingshots are also much less expensive than bows and arrows, so that's the way to go for cheap fun.

4

Cue Sports

Carom Billiards

Carom billiards tables don't have pockets. There are a variety of individual games you can play.

Cue Sports

Pool

Pool tables do have pockets. Interestingly, there are dozens of variations on "pool" as a game. The game is defined not by the rules, but by the table itself.

Snooker

Snooker tables have six pockets. The games played are considered separate from pool because they were developed in a different culture and historical context.

5

Outdoor Exploring

Hiking

For many people, hiking is a great way to explore the nature around you. The accessibility of hiking trails will depend on your location, of course. There may be local parks, wildlife preserves, or mountain trails that you can walk.

If you go on tougher hikes, you'll want to gear up with high-traction boots. Make sure to bring a lot of water, the proper gear and snacks on the way.

Hiking, Mountain Climbing and Camping

Mountain Climbing

Mountain climbing can overlap with hiking. It's generally more intensive and may involve picking your way over rocks.

The most extreme mountain climbing involves climbing up a sheer cliff face with a harness and picks. That's a little more than most people want, but great for adventure lovers!

Camping

Camping gets you out in the wild. Some people stay at campgrounds, while others pitch tents deep in the woods. There are also net-enclosed hammocks that keep insects out, allowing you to sleep under the stars.

It's a great way to experience the great outdoors. Whether you prefer to have an electronics-enhanced experience or go the more rugged route, you'll find yourself feeling something new.

6

Strength

Heavy Bag Boxing

Before you start boxing, make sure you're wrapping your hands properly and learning how to punch without injuring yourself.

Punching bags let you get your energy out, increase your strength, and feel like you've accomplished something.

Heavy Bag Boxing and Resistance Training

Weights and Resistance Training

Weights are able to help you train your muscle groups. Hand weights are common for toning your arms. But you can also use weights to tone your abs, chest, legs, and glutes.

There are also resistance training workouts that use your own body weight to build muscle. Push-ups and crunches are very common examples, but tons of guides are available online.

Cardio

Cardio workouts get the heart pumping. They help your overall heart health and endurance levels. There are tons of different cardio exercises.

Some exercises, like running, are high-impact. That means both feet leave the ground simultaneously, which stresses your joints.

But others, like using the elliptical machine or swimming, have a much lower impact. Those are great for people with arthritis and other joint issues.

7

Racket and Paddle Sports

Badminton

Badminton is a relaxed, low-stress game. The birdie is designed to move slowly through the air like it's floating, so there's time to get in position.

Badminton, Tennis and Pickleball

Tennis

Tennis is much more fast-paced. You have to do a lot of running, diving, and quick thinking.

That's ideal for people who want more active endeavors.

Pickleball

Pickleball is a simple game that can be played by all skill levels and ages. It's favored because the gameplay can be leisurely or fast-paced depending on your preference. Grab some paddlesp and get on board with this new game!

8

Bowling

Pin Bowling

Pin bowling aims to knock down as many pins in different configurations as possible.

Bowling

Target Bowling

Target bowling aims to hit specific targets at different locations and difficulty levels.

9

Watching Professional Sports

Tickets to Games

Some high school sporting events are free. Most professional and collegiate sports games require you to buy a ticket, though the price depends on the sport and the event.

If you really enjoy a certain sport or want to support a local team, going to a game can be a seriously memorable experience. You get to watch all the action and feel all the excitement in real time.

Watching Live on Television

Watching Live on Television

Maybe you want a quieter night to relax at home, or you're too far from the arena to attend, or you're simply on a budget. There are plenty of sporting events that you can watch live from the comfort of your home.

You can even make it a social gathering with a group party. It's especially common in the US for friends and family to gather to watch the Superbowl, even if their team isn't playing.

Listening on the Radio

Before podcasts were all the rage, radio stations were where most people got their audio. In addition to talk radio, there are stations that will play live baseball, soccer, basketball, or football commentary.

It's a different experience from watching live, but you get to paint a picture in your head. The excitement of the commentator's voices can sometimes be just as thrilling as actually being there!

10

Reading

Books

When was the last time you read? Do you have a to-read list? If not, it might be time to make one. First, decide whether to look for fiction or nonfiction.

Some common nonfiction genres include:

  • Biographies.
  • Memoirs.
  • Self-help and educational books.
  • Spirituality.
  • History.
Reading Books

Common fiction genres include:

  • Romance.
  • Mystery.
  • Young adult.
  • Supernatural, fantasy, and sci-fi.
  • Horror and thriller.
  • Crime drama.

And if you're not a fan of parsing tons of text, there are comics and graphic novels for every fiction and non-fiction genre.

Magazines

You might be shocked by the number of niche magazines available. If you look, you'll probably find one for all of your interests.

Specific mental health issues? Interior design? Vintage cars? New tablets? Programming changes? Television shows? Specific movies? The list goes on and on.

A lot of magazine articles are also free to peruse online if you don't want to purchase a full issue. Or if you want to check out the content to see whether you're interested enough for a subscription.

Online Content

Online Content

There's content everywhere online if you know where to look. Online articles are where most people get their daily news. But you can find more than just news articles. Content related to every topic imaginable is available.

Plus you can find interactive quizzes and media. Sometimes these are easier to engage with since your brain gets instant feedback. There's a type of video game called a visual novel that lets you make active choices as you read - that's great for brains seeking stimulation, too.

11

Coloring

Coloring Books

Over the past decade or so, the coloring book craze has taken the world by storm. There's a good reason for that - coloring is a calming activity that keeps your hands busy and makes you feel productive without stressing your brain.

You can find basically any coloring book. Movie and television characters, fantasy scenes, geometric patterns, nonsensical shapes, cartoons, relaxed pastoral scenes, and even raunchy adult designs!

Coloring

Pencils, Gel Pens, and Markers

When you're first getting into coloring, you'll probably want to experiment with different mediums. The look and feel of different materials can determine whether or not you like the experience.

Colored pencils let you draw detailed gradients and shading. Gel pens offer smooth, full coverage. Markers vary depending on the brand, but they typically give you thick ink and some shading potential with quick coverage.

Larger Painting Projects

If you're more ambitious, you might want to experiment with more traditional on-paper painting. Whether you work with a small sketchpad or a larger canvas, painting is a fantastic creative medium to explore!

There are tons of different types of paint. Acrylics are common for nature scenes, while oils are favored for portraits and impressionism. Watercolors create an effect that can't be replicated through any other means.

12

Drawing

Learning to Draw

There are thousands upon thousands of art books that will teach you to draw anything you want. Interested in using charcoal or certain inks? There's a guide for that. Want to learn to draw nature landscapes? There's a guide for that. Want to study human anatomy or draw animals? There's a guide for that.

There are even tutorials for different styles. Cartoonists and manga artists have published volumes showing how they create life, motion, and expression in their drawings.

Learning to Draw

Digital and Traditional

You can explore through digital or traditional means, or you might try a combination of the two!

Digital art is done through a computer program. But it still requires a great deal of skill. In fact, many digital art programs are designed to function just like on-paper drawing.

Traditional art encompasses everything done on paper or canvas. Some people combine the mediums by sketching on paper, then uploading that sketch into a digital format to color or edit.

Doodling for Stress Relief

There's a lot to be said for doodling for stress relief. You don't have to be a stellar artist. You don't have to study or be aiming to learn. Maybe you just want to keep your hands busy with a pen and a Post-It note while you watch a movie or listen to a podcast.

That's great! It's a great way to ground yourself and keep your attention from wandering.

13

Learning New Digital Skills

Graphic Design

Graphic design is a huge body of creative work. There's probably something in it for you, no matter who you are.

Logo design and branding? Great for people who like productivity.

Learning about different design programs? Great for those who constantly absorb new information.

Color theory and color-picking tools? Fantastic for anyone who likes artistry or creating something congruent.

Graphic Design

Spreadsheets and Office Programs

This is an activity for the more analytical-minded. It should be noted that learning these things will make you indispensable in an office, and it might even increase your salary. But as wind-down relaxation tools, they're best for people who love organization and repetition.

You can learn formulas for creating complex spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel. There are also a ton of little tricks and nifty functions to find in the other Microsoft Office programs.

Writing for an Audience

Maybe you prefer to be more connected to the wider world when you use the internet. Chances are, you have a Facebook or a Twitter to keep up with the times. Maybe you don't post a lot, or maybe you do.

There are a ton of blog-writing and social media posting guides that will teach you the ins and outs of writing for an online audience. Not only is that a super marketable skill, it'll also give you some sweet, sweet follower validation of your own.

14

Cooking

Learning the Basics

Maybe you're a seasoned cook. Maybe you live off TV dinners and takeout because you can barely boil water. If you didn't learn to cook growing up, you might be overwhelmed by figuring out how to start.

But you can still try!

There are lots of resources made for beginners that'll walk you through everything step by step. They'll tell you how to use different equipment, what different terms mean, and how to safely chop vegetables.

Cooking

Experimenting with Recipes

Even the most basic, low-stress recipes can be enhanced by learning a little something about spices. Maybe you're not committed to a ton of vegetable chopping or sauteeing, but you still want to play around with taste.

You can experiment with different flavor combinations, substitutions, and amounts in recipes. There are even guides that explain what large or small amounts of different ingredients do.

The Science of Baking

If you prefer something that's more precise and scientific than cooking, there's baking. Everything about baking is extremely precise. You can't change baking recipes without changing the chemistry of the food.

Plus, baking is a little less hands-on. Once everything is mixed and put in the oven, you don't have to oversee the cooking process until the timer goes off!

15

Woodworking

Cabinets and Furniture

Woodworking is commonly used to build stable, long-lasting furniture. Chairs, dining tables, shelves, and cabinets can all be fit together.

Some don't even need nails or adhesive.

Wood Working

Whittling and Carving

You don't need marble to be a sculptor. You can use a knife to whittle wood into landscapes, abstract shapes, words, people, animals, and other artwork.

16

Building Something

Outdoor Structures

Maybe you've practiced woodworking. Maybe you have a background in carpentry or engineering. Maybe you just want to mess around with parts until they fit together.

There are all kinds of outside structures you can create. A doghouse, a birdhouse, a miniature greenhouse. For more ambitious projects, maybe you'll try your hand at a tool shed or tree house.

Interior Design

Interior Design

For those with interior decoration sensibilities, now is the time to take control of your space. If you own your house, you can paint the walls with whatever splashy color you want. What cool themed room do you want to see?

Maybe you want a kitchen that looks like a sleek, sci-fi bar. Maybe you want a bedroom that looks like the ocean, or a bathroom that doubles as a forest.

The sky is the limit. Think about creative ways you can arrange your furniture or repurpose objects to suit your purposes!

Landscaping Ideas

Then there's your yard. If you're not bound by homeowner's association regulations, maybe you'll want to sow native wildflowers over the grass to create a field to frolic in. Maybe you'll want to plant a tree, or create a new garden bed, or hang a porch swing in the shade.

Think about ways to make your outdoor space somewhere you want to be. Then you can do more activities in the sunshine!

17

Gardening

Growing Vegetables

Gardening is another great way to make your outdoor space look how you want it to. The type of garden you can plant will vary depending on your location and the climate. Some vegetables thrive in temperate climates, while others need more tropical environments.

Growing your own food can seem daunting, but as long as you're diligent, it's very doable. Look up guides on how far apart to space the plants, how deep to bury the seeds, how often to water, and how much sunlight they should get.

Planting Flowers

Planting flowers is also a great way to enhance your outdoors. They can provide much-needed pops of color, and they attract important pollinators that help the health of your ecosystem. Like with vegetables, the flowers available will vary by location and climate.

Some flowers require little to no maintenance, making them great for people who can't constantly water and shelter their vegetation. Others need a little more tending, so they're good for people who want to feel like their efforts are being rewarded.

18

Card Games

Poker

Poker is one of the most popular types of card games. There are many types of poker, but all combine a certain amount of strategy and luck.

World poker tournaments host thousands of players every year. You can bet with fake money for low stakes in online tournaments, although some people seek out casinos to play for real money.

With just a deck of cards there is a lot of other games you can play as well!

Card Games

Solitaire

Solitaire is a type of card game that's played alone. Different games have different setups and rules. Generally, you'll shuffle the deck, lay the cards out, and match them in different configurations until they're sorted or you're out of moves.

This card game is popular because it takes up a lot of mental space and keeps you occupied. But you don't need any fancy equipment. Just yourself and a deck of cards. And for those who prefer to use a screen, you can also play online or through different gaming apps.

Go Fish

Go Fish is a time-honored classic because it's so easy. You just need a little strategy and memory, but the mechanics are simple enough for even young kids.

It's a great family game to get younger ones into strategizing, plus it's relaxing in its simplicity no matter your age.

19

Exploring Old Traditions

Exploring Cultural Traditions

Some people are lucky enough to know a lot about their heritage. Others don't know very much about their families or the culture they came from.

Learning about the world around you is a great way to pass the time. Maybe you're looking into your own cultural traditions, or those of your parents. Maybe you're learning about the traditions of your friends or neighbors.

There's always more to learn about human experiences and where they come from.

Exploring Old Traditions

Researching Family History

If you do know your family history, it can be fascinating to do deeper research. Even if you only have a tiny kernel of information, there are now online databases that compile historical documents so you can investigate from your computer.

You might be surprised by some of what you find, and it's a great way to feel connected to your ancestors.

Listening to Family Stories

You can cherish the wisdom and information offered by the people in your family. Maybe your parents have stories about when you were a baby. Maybe your grandparents remember significant historical events or want to share tales lost to time.

On-paper research is fantastic. But don't underestimate the amount you can learn by opening your ears, listening, and asking questions.

20

Trying a Tabletop Role-Playing Game

Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons is the best known tabletop game out there. There are tons of books, guides, informational resources, and constantly updating versions. The complexity can be intimidating for a first-time player, so it's best to have an experienced person running the game.

A big part of the D&D appeal is the high fantasy. You get to run around killing monsters, saving villages, and creating stories. But if the setting or complexity isn't your thing, this game isn't your only option.

Dungeons and Dragons

Other Game Setups

Most tabletop RPGs involve speaking around a table, rather than acting things out in live action.

If you're into fantasy and war and conquest, there are tons of games for that. But there are games for every other genre too.

Want a game where you play as a janitor on a starship? You can find that.

What about a game where you're playing through high school romances, but as a werewolf? Yeah, you can find that too.

What about a murder mystery that's set up like dinner theater, with tons of campy characters and dramatic voice-overs? That also exists!

Creating Characters

No matter what game you play, creating your character can be a fun and brain-challenging endeavor.

There's no wrong way to create a character, as long as you have fun. Maybe you want them to be just like you. Maybe you want a powerful fantasy version of yourself.

Maybe you want a well-balanced, complex hero with flaws. Maybe you want a build that's just really funny.

Regardless, it's a chance to play a game and tell a story however you want to tell it. With the help of friends, too!

Final Verdict

There are a ton of activities that you can do if you feel like you're bored in your spare time. With today's access to technology, it's easy to pick up nearly any skill simply by searching the web for a how-to guide.

Some activities will get you outdoors, while others can be enjoyed inside. Some involve creative discipline, while others get you physically active. It helps to try a few different activities that engage all aspects of your brain and body.

Once you're enjoying your free time through creativity, exploration, and movement, you'll find that your mental outlook has vastly improved.


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