12 rewarding ways to spend your time

Time is precious – in fact, motivational speaker Dennis Waitley calls it ‘the most precious element of human existence.’ And though there are many things in life that we can’t control, one thing that we can control is how we choose to spend our days.

Most would agree they want to use their time in the most valuable way possible – whether that be taking some much-needed downtime, learning a new skill, or helping others.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 12 rewarding ways to spend your time, which we hope will offer you some inspiration.

1. Explore the art of gardening and growing plants

Gardening and growing plants is a meaningful and fulfilling way to spend your time that not only makes your living space more aesthetically pleasing, but also has a lot of health benefits.

According to research published by Havard Health, when you garden for 30 minutes, you burn approximately the same amount of calories as you do undertaking 30 minutes of activities such as tai chi, badminton and gymnastics. However, the health benefits don’t stop there. The act of gardening and growing plants can help reduce stress, depression and anxiety – as well as boost self-esteem through the engagement of a meaningful activity. Surrounding yourself with greenery is also a great way to improve your living space, and uplift your day-to-day mood.

If you want to get into gardening, but you’re unsure where to start, then you might want to start with our articles, 8 superfoods that you can grow from home or 10 tools that can make gardening easier.

Even if you don’t have a garden, you can still reap the benefits of gardening by growing plants indoors, or on a window box. Or, if you’re really committed, you can apply for an allotment.

2. Start a blog about something you really care about

The reason that blogging is so rewarding is because it allows you to organise your thoughts and feelings, explore a topic you’re particularly passionate about, and share your knowledge and experience with others. It can also help you to track your progress or your journey. For example, some people find it helpful to keep a blog throughout a long illness – to not only help them cope with their emotions, but also to help others that might be going through the same thing. Others start a blog when they take up a new hobby, to document their progress and offer tips and advice to anyone else who shares a similar interest.

You can blog as little or as much as you like, and you also don’t need to worry about sharing it with others until you’re completely ready. Blogs can feel very personal and some people need a little time before they feel comfortable enough putting it out there for the world to see. You might also decide that you never want to promote it to others and keep it for your eyes only, which is also okay.

Some of the best free blogging websites for beginners are Tumblr, WordPress and Medium. Tech Adviser has created a helpful guide that will explain more about some of these. You can find it hereWe also have our own Rest Less guide which will show you how to start a blog in six easy steps.

3. Empower yourself through exercise

As the saying goes; strong body, strong mind. Exercise helps us to connect our mind with our body – and our bodies are usually capable of achieving far more than our minds think that they are. This is one of the things that makes exercise so rewarding and empowering; there’s always room for growth and development, and for achieving what you might have once thought was impossible.

Exercise is also an act of self care because it allows us to feel good. Taking the time out of your day to go for a 5K run, do some yoga or take a gym class will allow you a window of opportunity to spend some quality time with yourself. You may end your exercise session on a high because you completed your run in record time, or feel more relaxed after a gentle yoga session because you took the space and time to clear your mind. Exercise offers multiple rewards, and it’s unusual to finish a session without feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Exercising outdoors is particularly rewarding as it not only optimises your physical performance, but being in the fresh air and among nature is thought to reduce stress, restore mental fatigue, and improve your mood and self-esteem. If you’re looking to start exercising outdoors, then our beginner’s guides to running and cycling could offer you a helpful place to start.

There are also plenty of ways you can keep fit from home. Our article 5 steps to staying fit at home will hopefully offer you a helpful starting point, or, if you fancy something with a bit of rhythm, check out our list of 11 online dance classes for beginners.

4. Connect with nature

The world in which we live is vast, and full of beautiful sights and breathtaking experiences – some of which are much closer to home than you might think. Connecting with nature is a rewarding, spiritual, and often humbling experience which can not only help to reduce stress, but can also be a way of provoking thought about our existence and place in the world. Although gardening and growing plants is a great way to foster a connection with the natural world, there are also many other ways, such as:

  • Bird watching – Bird watching is an excellent way to connect with the natural world because birds are all around us. Observing the habits and behaviour of common birds can provide us with a great opportunity to find beauty in something that we might take for granted. And searching for rarer birds is an exciting and (if you’re lucky) fulfilling way to spend your time. Bird watching is also a meditative and mindful activity that can help us to live in the present moment, and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

  • Stargazing – Like bird watching, oftentimes the most rewarding ways to connect with nature are the simplest. In the case of stargazing, all you have to do is look up. While birdwatching is a great way to find beauty in the small occurrences around us, stargazing gives us the opportunity to contemplate the vast infinity of the natural world that extends beyond what we know. Stargazing can be a great way to relieve stress and allow the worries and pressures of everyday life to melt away. Looking up at the expanse of stars and planets can really put things into perspective.

  • Go on a camping or hiking holiday – Sometimes, the best way to connect with nature is to leave the hustle and bustle of modern life behind and take off into the wilderness. The UK is filled with beautiful areas such as Snowdonia, the Lake District and the Cairngorms, which are full of sights and scenes perfect for a camping or hiking holiday. So why not take some time away and lose yourself in the splendour of the natural world?

5. Create a vision board

Vision boards are a great way to explore and realise your goals and dreams, and to identify what you are most grateful for. A vision board is any sort of board that includes images (and sometimes words) that act as a powerful and positive daily reminder of whatever you want to be, do, or have in your life. Vision boards are often linked to the Law of Attraction – which is the idea that the way we think, directly impacts the positive or negative experiences that we have in life. So the more positive our thinking, the more likely we are to have positive experiences in reality. This ideology has become increasingly popular since the release of the 2006 book: The Secret.

When it comes to creating your own vision board, there are no rules. They can be as big, small or creative as you like. Most people create them by hand using a cork board and photos, cut outs from magazines and inspirational quotes. You could dedicate an hour, an afternoon or a whole weekend to this exercise, and you may well want to add to it over time as you progress on your journey.

Read our guide on How to create an inspiring vision board or watch this handy YouTube video that explains more about the rewards associated with creating a vision board – plus tips on how to get started.

6. Foster a dog or cat

Caring for an animal is a uniquely rewarding experience that can not only bring you companionship, but also an added sense of fulfilment and purpose. There are plenty of dogs and cats out there that are looking for some love while they await their permanent home. 

If you’d be interested in finding out more, then it’s worth contacting your local RSPCA centre or branch by email to find out whether there are any dogs or cats near you that need a temporary home. The application process will be completed over the phone and online, and if successful, the animal will be delivered safely to your home by an RSPCA inspector.

7. Make improvements to your home or garden

Research conducted by Yale Retail UK suggests that in the UK we spend an average of nine hours per day at home (that’s 37.5% of your life!). However, research suggests that this number has increased by up to 8 hours since the start of the pandemic. So, why not get the most out of your living space by making a few home improvements?

Home improvements could include changing the colour scheme in your living room to something fresher and brighter, restoring or upcycling an old piece of furniture, or fixing that leaky tap in the bathroom. When we make improvements to our homes and/or gardens, we tend to enjoy them much more, and often feel a sense of pride over what we’ve achieved – especially if we’ve learnt some new skills in the process. It can also help to boost the value of your property, which could be useful if you’re thinking about selling at some point in the future.

If you’re on a budget, then check out our article 10 affordable ways to improve your living space, which includes tips on how to update your bathroom and spruce up your garden without breaking the bank. You can visit DIY and home improvement stores such as B&Q or Homebase either in store or online to get everything you need to get started on your projects.

8. Volunteer to help others

If you have a few spare hours each week, and want to give back to the community, then why not consider volunteering? Volunteering not only allows you to help others but also comes with feelings of satisfaction and reward, which can improve confidence and self-esteem. There are a wide range of roles out there from volunteering with children and helping the elderly, to organising events and taking care of animals, so there’s something for everyone. To search for volunteer roles or get some inspiration, check out the volunteering section of our website.

If volunteering in person isn’t for you, then you can even volunteer from the comfort of your own home. All you need is a stable wifi connection and a genuine desire to help. From offering a listening ear to helping to protect ancient trees in your local area; there are plenty of ways you can make a difference from home. To find out more about what online volunteering options are out there and how to apply, you can read our full guide here.

9. Tackle your book bucket list

Many of us have a mental or physical list of books that we really must get round to reading, but that we always put off until later. If you’re looking for a rewarding way to spend your time, then why not start crossing some of those books off of your list? 

Getting stuck into a great book is a chance for you to learn something new, take on a different perspective and go on an exciting journey – all from the safety and comfort of your sofa. There’s also that sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing that you have soaked up an entire book’s contents by reading the whole thing from cover to cover.

If you don’t have a book bucket list of your own, then we have plenty of articles to hopefully give you some inspiration, from 27 of the best must-read novels to 20 of the best history books.

10. Write a letter to a friend or family member

Although phone calls and video platforms are a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, sometimes there’s just nothing like a handwritten letter to make someone’s day.

Handwritten letters take a bit of time and thought and are less spontaneous than usual methods of communication, which can make them feel much more special. I know that when I receive a handwritten letter, I feel touched that someone has taken the time to write and send me a thoughtful message – especially because handwritten notes are a rarity nowadays. Knowing that your letter could put a big smile on the face of someone you love is extremely satisfying – and makes the time spent writing it feel very worthwhile.

Writing to someone else by hand also encourages them to write back to you. Before you know it, you could have a pen pal, and something to look forward to in the post every now and then.

If you want to make your letters that extra bit more special, then consider checking out our introductory guides to card making and calligraphy.

11. Learn or develop new skills

Learning or developing a new skill can be an incredibly rewarding way to spend your time. Not only can it help you to develop personally and/or professionally – but it can also give you a great sense of achievement, especially if you achieve something that you didn’t think you could.

Learning is an integral part of our existence, and affects how we interact with and relate to the world around us. When we learn a new skill, we often find that our world opens up just that little bit more, and this continues with every new skill that you acquire or master. The skills you choose to learn or develop will be personal to you – but could include anything from learning how to write with a calligraphy pen, through to learning how to manage your own plumbing.

Whatever you’ve thought about learning, chances are, there’s a course or an online tutorial that will show you how to do it. The learning section of our site has over 50,000 courses for you to sink your teeth into – plus information about online resources that you can use for free, and suggestions of skills you can learn from home.  It’s also worth getting well acquainted with YouTube because it’s full of people who have learnt or are currently learning new skills, offering their tips and advice.

12. Practice self care

It’s not uncommon for people to feel guilty when they take quality time for themselves. But it’s more important than ever to remember that taking ‘you’ time is an essential part of looking after your general health and wellbeing.

Self care means different things to different people and can be about more than simply eating healthy balanced meals and getting enough sleep. It can also be about allowing yourself time to do the things that you enjoy and that allow you to relax and recharge. For example, having a long hot bath and a glass of wine, completely undisturbed. Or treating yourself to a movie morning in bed on a Saturday after a long week.

Sometimes when we practice self-care we experience feelings of guilt, or a sense that we should be doing something more productive – which can stop you from whole-heartedly enjoying quality time with yourself. It becomes much more enjoyable and rewarding when you can accept that you deserve this time, and that you will be better able to tackle other things when you’re finished. If you find this a challenge, then start small. Try to allow yourself at least half an hour a day to do something that you truly enjoy and can indulge in. Even if that just means reading a chapter of your favourite book.

Do you have any additional rewarding ways that you spend your free time? We’d love to hear from you! Join the conversation on the community forum, or leave a comment below.

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