21 Depression-Friendly Pastimes That Don’t Cost The Earth

When we have depression, it can be difficult to know what to do with ourselves. Depression saps our energy and motivation to do things, and the financial issues that can arise from our condition make cost a factor too.

Finding depression-friendly pastimes, which take all of that into account, can be tricky.

21 Depression-Friendly Pastimes That Don't Cost The Earth

Doing things we enjoy can help boost our mood and self-esteem, so it is worth finding activities we’re comfortable doing when we’re unwell.  We’ve come up with 21 ideas that might appeal.

1. Binge Watch A Series

There might be a series that we’ve always been meaning to watch but never got around to. Everyone else has seen it and knows all the in-jokes, but we have no idea what they’re talking about. Alternatively, we might stumble upon a new show that we’ve never heard of before. Getting stuck into a series can be a simple but effective way to escape for a little while.

2. Books

Reading is sometimes difficuly when we’re depressed, but if we’re able to, escaping into a good story, or learning new things, can be a great way to pass the time. Libraries are great if we don’t want to shell out for new books, or we can look round our local charity shops for cheapies. If we’re not up to reading, we could try audiobooks: many libraries now hold audiobooks as well as traditional books.

3. Computer Games

Most of us have at least one computer game hidden at the back of a cupboard, whether it be a PC game, or one that fits a console. It can be good fun to bring them back out again and relive bits of our childhood. If we don’t own any games, we can download some onto our phone, or check if any came free with our computer.

4. Digital Art

There are tonnes of apps out there allowing us to draw on our computer, tablet, or phone. There are some soothing, creative, apps available, too, such as Silk.

5. Fly A Kite

Kites can be picked up quite cheaply from a toy shop or sometimes supermarkets. There is something wonderfully freeing about finding a field or patch of grass and letting a kite fly.

6. Free Online Classes

YouTube has a lot of instructional videos on various topics. There’s something out there for everyone. There are other websites and apps around and about, which are designed to teach us different things. Sites like Duolingo, which can be used to learn languages, are becoming more and more popular.

7. Gardening

Gardening can be a gentle activity. Connecting to nature can be a great way to improve our mood. We might not feeling energetic enough to prune shrubs or mow the lawn, but we could try gentle activities like weeding, planting seeds in pots, and repotting them as they grow.

8. Get Creative

There are a range of creative activities – from journalling to colouring to crafting to cooking – that don’t require expensive equipment or too much energy.  Expressing ourselves creatively can be very therapeutic too.

9. Get Lost

We could try leaving our house and getting lost. If we have the energy we could walk; if the weather’s bad or we’re not feeling up to walking, we could drive. We don’t need to know where we’re going, we can just keep going until we feel like heading home. We might discover new places to visit and new things to see. If we’re anxious about getting home again, we could take a phone or sat nav with us but avoid turning it on until we’re ready to start heading back.

10. Have A Movie Night

Rather than just sticking a movie on, we could make a night of it. Buy some popcorn, get some ice cream and settle down with our family, friends, or by ourselves, to lose ourselves in a film. If we struggle to completely focus on something, the advantage of having a home move night is that we can stop it when we need to. We could also try doing something at the same time like crafting or playing with a fiddle toy.

11. Have A Picnic

Eating outside can be a nice change from sitting indoors. Packing up a picnic doesn’t have to be a lot of effort. If we’re not up to making a huge spread, we can pop into a supermarket on our way somewhere and pick up a meal deal. Alternatively, we could stop somewhere like a fish and chip shop, and treat ourselves to a take away.

12. Jigsaws

Jigsaws can usually be bought for a couple of pounds from a charity shop. They can be very absorbing and relaxing. If we don’t want to get a jigsaw out and find somewhere to put it, there are jigsaw apps available.

13. Join A Twitter Chat

If we’re social media savvy, and feel like connecting with others, we could have a look for twitter chats relevant to us. There are loads of twitter chats happening at various times of the week, around all sorts of topics. They vary from chats focusing on our local area, to special interest, or professionals chats.

BuddyBox

14. Listen To Podcasts

Podcasts are something which can be a real goldmine if we can find some we like – but we often forget they exist. There are lots of free podcasts available online, or in different media stores, on all sorts of topics.

15. Make A Playlist

Music has an amazing ability to transport us anywhere we want to go. Feeling nostalgic for the freedom of our teenage years? Make a playlist with the tunes we loved in our former life. Need cheering up? Make a happy playlist! Need songs to console us? Make an emotional playlist. The best bit is that we can then sing along to them for the following few weeks.

16. Play Cards

Some card games need a friend or a group of people. Others, like solitaire, can be played alone. A pack of cards can provide hours of fun. If we grow bored of card games we could always try teaching ourselves a card trick or two. Or we could see how tall we could make a playing cards tower.

17. Puzzle Books

We can pick up puzzle books from newsagents or supermarkets at a pretty low cost. Whether we love numbers, words, patterns or riddles, there are loads of different kind of books out there. They can keep us occupied for hours on end.

18. Take Photos

We don’t need expensive camera equipment to take photos. Most phones now have a camera in one form or another. Photos are one of the least messy ways to be creative which can be good if we’re low on energy. If we’re not up to moving much we could see how creative we could get with the things close to us. If we’re feeling a little more energetic we could go for a stroll and see what sort of things we could find to take shots of.

19. Snail Mail

The art of letter writing is one that has been lost over time, but it can be really fun and a lovely thing to receive. Writing to some of our friends can be fun and creative. Postcrossing is a way of sending and receiving postcards from random people around the world. There are lots of snail mail prompts online if we’re struggling to know what to write. To make it more fun we could add in stickers (we’re never too old for stickers!) and use different coloured papers.

20. Watch Documentaries

There are lots of free documentaries available online or through various streaming services. They cover loads of topics and themes so there should always be one that we are interested in.

21. Yoga

Yoga can be a great way to gently stretch our bodies, and calm our minds. If we find going to a class too expensive or anxiety-provoking we could buy a DVD, or look at videos on YouTube.

Over to you

We all find different things enjoyable, and what we can cope with while we’re unwell varies too. If we’ve left any good activities off our list, please let us know. It might just inspire someone to try something new.

Please help us to help others and share this post, you never know who might need it.

  • Steph Bishop

    Biggest pile of crap I’ve read in a while, “pop to the supermarket for a picnic” yeah when you can be arsed to get washed and face people! Lay and watch TV?? Hmmmm OK! Invite people over for a film night? So not only are you trying to force a smile your surrounded by people trapped in your own home, shite advice when you’ve had enough your at home, yep enough now folks go home! Clearly not written by a mental health sufferer that’s ever felt like life wasn’t worth living.

  • C1586

    Personally I don’t think binge watching series or playing computer games is a good idea when depressed, I actually think it’s a terrible suggestion. We probably all do it but it’s not really a behaviour which is helpful. I find things that get you moving, thinking or being with other people, though much harder, are actually beneficial.

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  • Sarah Todd

    AWESOME!! Have opened duolingo tab – been wanting to leanr Greek for years – and will use when concentration up to it. When concentration not up to anything, I find that Radio 4 Extra keeps me going – few triggers and lots of repetition so eventually I *might* get the joke 🙂

  • I think a couple of those things are bad advice. Binge watching can deepen depression, increase isolation and disassociation. Documentaries can fuel depression too. Increase obsessiveness and negative/ feelings of hopelessness and anger. None of this is good when you’re depressed.