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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 August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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