I believe that focusing on and pursuing joy is extremely important no matter where you are on your financial journey. Joy is infectious, and the more you foster it in some parts of your life the more it spreads to all of your life and other lives. During quarantine, I’ve had to get a bit more creative and make some big changes (and even take a class!) to be happier. But, I’ve seen a really big difference in myself from incorporating these five cheap or free ways to stay happy in quarantine!
1. Yoga Everyday
I’ve recommended Yoga with Adrienne here before for both the physical and mental health benefits of yoga. With the incredibly unpredictable and unprecedented nature of the world these days, having some semblance of a routine with something relaxing to look forward to everyday has been massive for me. I just finished the 30 day Home series from her channel, and I’m not only feeling a little more flexible and relaxed, but I’m also proud of myself and feel a new sense of accomplishment! I found this series really accessible for all physical activity levels and the added sense of accountability from participating in a structured program made it more likely for me to actually do it everyday.
I found this free course on Coursera taught by a Yale professor a couple weeks and have been absolutely blown away by it. There are no hard deadlines and the total time commitment is estimated to be around 20 hours over 10 weeks, so it’s extremely flexible.
I think this course is exceptionally relevant to the FIRE crowd because much like a lot of FIRE enthusiasts preach, this covered the science behind why spending your money on useless stuff to impress people
you don’t care about at a job you hate will not make you a happier person. The sentiments of avoiding hedonistic adaptation, spending more money won’t make you happier, and building the life you want also felt very familiar to me!
This course closely follows Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky’s work, The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want (affiliate link). If you’re like me and absorb things better through the written word instead of on a screen, I highly recommend checking it out!
3. Reach Out to Loved Ones
I’ve been making a big effort to keep in touch with friends and family on a regular basis and even reach out to old friends I haven’t talked to in a while.
After going through some old files I was recently reminded that, in childhood, I was a postcard collector hoarder. I decided that owning over a hundred pieces of cardstock with images such as holographic butterflies or maps of the state of Wisconsin have not benefited me for at least the last 20 years. Yet I have somehow been lugging them from place to place my entire adult life.
Cue Operation Nationwide Postcard Dissemination! I used this opportunity to let a couple dozen friends and family members know how grateful I was to have them in my life. It also gave me the opportunity to reflect on different happy memories I had with each card recipient. Everyone loves getting personalized mail, so I know this will put smiles on the faces of my loved ones, even if just for a few minutes. The thing is, reflecting on how many amazing people are in my life and how many wonderful times I’ve had with them reminded me how incredibly lucky I am and also significantly increased my happiness for the day.
4. Performing Acts of Kindness
This could be anything from complimenting others, doing something nice for those in your quarantine household, or donating to organizations helping those in need.
We have a refrigerator magnet that says “Being Nice to People is a Really Good Idea.” Every time I look at it, it reminds me that kindness is free. Performing acts of kindness on a regular basis has also been shown to statistically make us happier people. It’s incredibly empowering to realize that while owning a super fancy car won’t make you a happier person, going out of your way to do nice things for others will.
I’ve also been realizing that my progress toward FIRE has put me in an extraordinarily privileged position and there are a lot of folks who are really struggling right now. I’ve been getting a big endorphin rush from setting aside some money to donate to reputable organizations that are addressing inequality. Donate your time to keep it free if you don’t have spare cash!
5. Getting a Quarantine Hobby
I’ve mentioned in other posts how rewarding both gardening and baking have been for me during quarantine. In addition to being both cheap or free ways to stay happy in quarantine, they can both actually save you money on your grocery bill! When not a whole lot is changing in my day to day life, it’s been really cool to watch things that I’ve given life to grow and eventually nourish me and my family. My skills are slowly but surely improving, which makes me proud of myself and, in the post quarantine world, will eventually make me a more interesting dinner party guest.😉 The number of things you can get into are endless. But, if you’re coming up blank, I highly recommend learning a new skill on Coursera, getting down and dirty with a new book, picking up something crafty (knitting, crocheting, quilting, etc.), or finding a new game to dedicate yourself to!
There you have it! The more you pursue happiness, the more likely you are to find it. I hope that some of these five cheap or free ways to stay happy in quarantine are helpful to some of you! Reach out to me and let me know if you end up incorporating these or any other happiness practices into your quarantine routine!