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24 Enriching Activities 50-Somethings Should Do In Their Free Time

24 Enriching Activities 50-Somethings Should Do In Their Free Time

Life starts at 40, as the famous saying goes. But what many people are unaware of is that the fun stuff starts at 50. In your earlier years, you were preoccupied with things like trying to figure out your career, buying a house, and finding “the one”. But now that you’re married, have bought a home, secured your career (and hopefully your retirement), and gained wisdom from years of experience, everything’s looking a lot brighter for you right now.

The time has come to reap the fruits of years of hardships and struggles. By this time, you would ideally have lots of free time to be spent with friends, family, and yourself. Here are 24 enriching activities every 50-something should do in the free time.

Educate yourself

1. Take a language course

Aside from the fun of it, learning a new language is always great since you never know when you might encounter the need for such. This is especially great for avid travelers since it is definitely an advantage be able to converse with the locals.

It is quite common for tourists to get lost while on the road, and asking directions from locals is always a great solution.  The problem is, some of them might not be proficient in English (much less your native tongue). Knowing the local language can definitely help you with getting directions towards your destination. To learn another language at your own pace, you can look for podcasts that can be synced to your mobile device so you can listen to audio tutorials wherever you go.

 2. Learn arts and crafts

Arts and crafts aren’t just for children; it’s basically for everyone.  Aside from adding another talent on your skill set, working on a craft like building models, sketching, origami, pottery, or painting creates a state of mind that greatly improves focus. This then arouses feelings of great accomplishment with each masterpiece created. If you don’t know where to start, there are tons of free tutorials on the Internet that you can learn from.

 3. Learn restoration

You probably have an old bike, an old car, or an old juke box that hold so much memories, which unfortunately couldn’t stand the test of time. You can save a lot in carpentry/mechanic fees if you learn how to fix things yourself.  You can start with fixing simple items like chairs, tables, and shelves to hone your skills.

4. Study photography

If the idea of creating images on canvases with your hands isn’t too appealing, perhaps using a camera can do the trick. It may be an expensive hobby, and it may take time to get really good at it, but it’s always worth trying. If you’re new to this, make sure to read product reviews online and ask advice from other photography enthusiasts before buying your own camera. This is to make sure that you won’t waste your money on a camera that doesn’t fit you.

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5. Learn to play a musical instrument

Learning to play a musical instrument brings a wide array of perks. It teaches you discipline, eases stress, builds confidence, and lets you discover history and culture. All of us have a certain piece of instrument that we’ve always wanted to play. Besides taking classes, you can learn on your own by reading books and watching instructional videos online.

6. Learn to cook

Learning how to cook for yourself makes you healthier at little cost since you’ll be buying and cooking the ingredients yourself. You can even cook yourself your favorite dish whenever you want. Just learn how to cook by on YouTube, from DVDs or traditional cookbooks.

7. Study the humanities

Studying the humanities will generally help you expand your horizons. Fields like philosophy, history, and religion tackle life from many different angles. If you love intellectual discussions, this one’s for you. The Internet and your local library are bound to have an enormous repository of resources on these subjects.

8. Watch documentaries

If you like to learn but don’t really have the patience to read, watch documentaries videos. Videos make things more alive and more enjoyable to pay attention to,and so are  are easier to absorb compared to reading. You can download these materials online, or catch them on certain television channels like History, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic Channel.

Go outdoors

9. Fishing

There’s something truly relaxing when drinking beer on a boat in the middle of a calm lake while waiting for the fish to take the bait. You don’t really have to worry about boat rentals since they aren’t that expensive. Fishing is best done with your pals or kids; it is an exciting activity even if you don’t get to have the big ones bite. Look up your directory or find the best fishing places near your home.

10. Make your own garden

Only a few activities can do what gardening does. It gives you this intense feeling of joy once the seeds that you sow become sprouts. This gets better when they start flowering or making fruits or vegetables. You also get some much needed time with nature because you’d be spending time landscaping, watering, and putting fences around your garden.

To start with, decide what you should plant on your garden based on the weather in your area and your capabilities to look after one. Then, you need seeds, fertilizer, a shovel, a hand trowel, and a bucket, then you’re good to go. Make sure you do this on an area spacious enough for the plants to grow. Read up on how to start, attend conferences, or simply ask other people who have done this before for tips and instructions.

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11. Take care of chickens

Having chickens around is nice since these guys are simply harmless and are fairly good companions. Unlike other farm animals like cows, pigs, goats, and horses, chickens are a lot easier to take care of. Their small size means you won’t need to invest in large space and food compared to four-legged livestock. Best of all, their fecal matter doesn’t stink as much as cows’ and pigs’.

Allot a small area in your background for their cages. If you want them running around, make sure your yard has fences to keep them away from cats and dogs and wandering off to your neighbors.

12. Watch local sports games

Sports are always exciting. Take a break from watching the professional league on TV to see the local action regardless if you have a kid playing or not. Aside from witnessing young talents grow, attending local games is a great place for you to meet like-mined folks of the same age.

Start by picking a sport that you’re most interested in, then looking up for a local team or simply support your alma mater’s team. Crowds cheering for college and high school teams are always passionate groups, join the wild crowds to experience the excitment.

Exercise

13. Jog

Jogging has always been one of the most popular ways to stay fit. It typically results in weight loss, better sleeping habits, and improved appetite. Do this around the park or your neighborhood at your convenience.

14. Ride a bike

Riding a bike is the same as jogging to some extent, in terms of health benefits. The big difference here is that you can reach farther places, and in some cases, it can be more fun since you’re running on wheels. Taking out your bike for a ride on a sunny afternoon around the neighborhood gives you a good opportunity to break a sweat and sometimes catch up with your buddies next door.

15. Take a swimming class

Moving in the water would require a certain level of physical strength and technique, thereby improving cardiovascular and muscular health. It also tones the muscles, particularly the ones at the back, arms, and legs, which ultimately makes people look lean. Moreover, taking a dip in cold blue waters on a hot summer afternoon is truly refreshing, You can start out at the public pool or the beach. If you have money to spare, opt for a premium membership at some resort.

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16. Go hiking

One of the best ways to get fit and get close to the nature is by hiking out to the great outdoors. This would give you that much-needed break from the urban setting. You would see and experience new things, like the adrenaline once you’re standing on a mountain peak, overlooking a majestic landscape.  Consider exploring a cave, a hill, an uncharted island, or a native forest for some adventure.

Have fun at home

17. Host card games

Playing cards is one of the best pastimes around. With just a single deck of 52 cards, you can come up with hundreds of games. Aside from being fun, these games will help keep everyone’s minds alert. Invite friends or family to the house and have a few rounds on the patio. The feeling is just thrilling since you’re never really sure if you would win or lose.

18. Play bingo online

If everyone in the house is away, or your buddies aren’t available, or you’re simply feeling lazy about going out, you can consider playing bingo online. This saves you the hassle of dressing up and traveling to the bingo hall.

While it is still best played with friends and family, playing it online doesn’t make it less of a social game. There are numerous sites that allow you to talk and play with other people.

19. Track your family tree

There’s that part of us which longs for knowing about our roots. Tracking your family’s ancestry will definitely take a lot of time and research. Regardless of how far back you can trace, it is always a good gift to pass it on to your young. Knowing about the roots and family’s history will definitely give them pride in their family name.

You may need to travel a bit to get your research done, but you can start by looking through your old photo albums.  Just find out if there’re any notes or labels that can give you the information you need. You can even ask your older relatives or family friends about your family’s history.

20. Play board games

Board games, like Monopoly, are typically good for the whole family because of the friendly competition. If you’re up for quality time with one of your buddies, opt for Chess or Chinese Checkers. One-on-one strategy games like these breed healthy competition and improve mental dexterity.

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21. Yoga

Not only does yoga improve your physical health, but also benefits your mental and spiritual health. It improves a person’s quality of life by bringing mental clarity and building harmony with the surroundings through meditation. The numerous breathing techniques and flexibility exercises are good for body detox. Yoga can be tough to learn. Consider taking a beginners class, since instructions from a trainer would most likely be better than online resources.

Go beyond the usual

22. Learn how to do magic

Learning a magic trick or two is great for entertaining people, especially kids. You can make people laugh during a party or a gathering; it also gives you the excuse to have the children sit around you and watch. You can buy items for magic tricks in the mall.

23. Learn a martial art

It’s never too late to be a karate master. Aside from being good for self-defense, learning martial arts also benefits the body, mind, and soul. The high flying moves and the rigorous training all stem from different philosophical teachings and are merely the metaphor for them. Look for a good instructor around town and enroll for a class.

24. Do voluntary work

If you feel like embarking on a mission to give back and make a positive change in society, then doing voluntary work is the way to go. Choose a local NGO that takes part or initiate activities that include making a positive change towards something you care about. This could involve saving the environment, advocating animal welfare, or feeding and educating the less fortunate. Choose one that you can devote your time to. Participating in altruistic activities is a win-win situation: it benefits you as it always feels good to contribute to a cause bigger than yourself, while the needs of those at the receiving end of your help will be met.

As you free yourself from the anxieties of forging a career, finding a spouse, buying a home and several of the what-ifs of your life, you can now focus on pursuing other talents you’re capable of, as well as nurturing your relationship with yourself and others. You’ll be a lot happier as you get closer to your full potential as a human being.

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Last Updated on June 20, 2019

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

There’s nothing quite like picking up a guitar and strumming out some chords. Listening to someone playing the guitar can be mesmerising, it can evoke emotion and a good guitar riff can bring out the best of a song. Many guitar players find a soothing, meditative quality to playing, along with the essence of creating music or busting out an acoustic version of their favourite song. But how does playing the guitar affect the brain?

More and more scientific studies have been looking into how people who play the guitar have different brain functions compared to those who don’t. What they found was quite astonishing and backed up what many guitarists may instinctively know deep down.

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Guitar Players’ Brains Can Synchronise

You didn’t read that wrong! Yes, a 2012 study[1] was conducted in Berlin that looked at the brains of guitar players. The researchers took 12 pairs of players and got them to play the same piece of music while having their brains scanned.

During the experiment, they found something extraordinary happening to each pair of participants – their brains were synchronising with each other. So what does this mean? Well, the neural networks found in the areas of the brain associated with social cognition and music production were most activated when the participants were playing their instruments. In other words, their ability to connect with each other while playing music was exceptionally strong.

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Guitar Players Have a Higher Intuition

Intuition is described as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning” and this is exactly what’s happening when two people are playing the guitar together.

The ability to synchronise their brains with each other, stems from this developed intuitive talent indicating that guitar players have a definite spiritual dexterity to them. Not only do their brains synchronise with another player, but they can also even anticipate what is to come before and after a set of chords without consciously knowing. This explains witnessing a certain ‘chemistry’ between players in a band and why many bands include brothers who may have an even stronger connection.

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This phenomenon is actually thought to be down to the way guitarists learn how to play – while many musicians learn through reading sheet music, guitar players learn more from listening to others play and feeling their way through the chords. This also shows guitarists have exceptional improvisational skills[2] and quick thinking.

Guitar Players Use More of Their Creative, Unconscious Brain

The same study carried out a different experiment, this time while solo guitarists were shredding. They found that experienced guitar players were found to deactivate the conscious part of their brain extremely easily meaning they were able to activate the unconscious, creative and less practical way of thinking more efficiently.

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This particular area of the brain – the right temporoparietal junction – typically deactivates with ‘long term goal orientation’ in order to stop distractions to get goals accomplished. This was in contrast to the non-guitarists who were unable to shut off the conscious part of their brain which meant they were consciously thinking more about what they were playing.

This isn’t to say that this unconscious way of playing can’t be learnt. Since the brain’s plasticity allows new connections to be made depending on repeated practice, the guitar player’s brain can be developed over time but it’s something about playing the guitar in particular that allows this magic to happen.

Conclusion

While we all know musicians have very quick and creative brains, it seems guitar players have that extra special something. Call it heightened intuition or even a spiritual element – either way, it’s proven that guitarists are an exceptional breed unto themselves!

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Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

Reference

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