Help me find something to DO before I drive myself crazy.
February 26, 2009 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Help me find something to DO before I drive myself crazy.

I'm bored all the time and nothing seems to appeal to me anymore. I think it may be because for the last few months I've not done much of anything besides sit around at my computer, sleep, repeat. Please, help me find things to do that will get me out of the house. "Take a walk" won't do, I don't know this neighbourhood well at all but from what I've seen it's just rows of depressingly identical suburban houses. I'm so tired of wandering around aimlessly bored out of my skull, both IRL and on the Internet.

I'm in Vancouver, CA if it matters, moved here late last year. Entertainment budget: low to non-existent. That's not to say I'm blaming a lack of money for a lack of recreation, I know there is plenty of fun to be had for cheap or free, it's just that I can't seem to think of anything right now. I have time on my hands, obviously, just not a lot of money to spare. I need to do things that will make me feel alive again. I feel so inert that it's surreal. I find myself crying sometimes thinking about what to do next. Normal everyday things look impossibly huge in the light of not having any other hobbies. Some days I literally can't do anything at all because I can't seem to stop fretting about being bored and concentrate on anything else. Schoolwork is taking a hit.

I have a boyfriend and ideas for couple-y activities are welcome.
posted by anonymous to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (21 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
get a job?
posted by spacefire at 4:02 PM on February 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

Honestly, you sound more depressed than bored.

Get some exercise. It's one of the best things you can do when you're feeling down. If you have a gym membership, use it. If not, get outside for a run. If it's raining, download a yoga podcast and follow along. Just get active.

And since you just moved to a new city, go volunteer somewhere. It's a great way to meet new people outside your normal circle.
posted by burntflowers at 4:03 PM on February 26, 2009

It seems like you just need an excuse to get out of the house. What about finding a new hobby, perhaps taking a class somewhere or joining a group that meets regularly? Even finding a local coffee shop or restaurant to hang out at could work. From there you could take a walk around new neighborhoods and see what you find. There are lots of things out there if you know where to look.
posted by waxboy at 4:10 PM on February 26, 2009

You're in Vancouver and you can't find anything to do? Isn't it the worlds second most livable city?

I'd say get a bike and ride. Ride through the streets past the depressing apartment blocks till you find somewhere interesting. Then ride back home a different way. If you see an interesting street - go down it. Let the city tell you where to go and I guarantee you'll find something interesting along the way.
To make it even more interesting and fun, make up a bunch of stickers and put them round the city at locations you like. Buy a back of plastic animals and a tub of superglue and glue them in places. Doing silly stuff like that sometimes makes you feel cheeky like you're breaking the 'rules'. Who know, it make energise some creative spot in you. Plus- you're connecting and making your mark on the outside world.

Whenever I'm down I hop on my bike and just go exploring. It makes me feel free and - most importantly - alive.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 4:14 PM on February 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

I go to the library and I leave my computer at home (very important for me to get the hell off the internet). I go there with a book or two to read, but always find myself getting sucked into something different. I pick a couple of topics and ask my librarian to help me. I know I could do the research myself online, but I think it's helpful to pick someone else's brain. Sometimes it takes every bit of will power to leave the house when I don't have to, but once I get to the library, everything seems better.

Also, going to the gym has saved my sanity during this period of unemployment. I spend time looking up exercises and trying out different things. I actually started running - something I thought I would NEVER be able to do.

One last thing that takes up a lot of my time is my commitment to eating whole foods/no processed foods a la Michael Pollan. This takes up a lot amount of time planning, researching and finding cheap-ish organic, non-processed foods.

Basically, I spend my time trying to improve aspects of my life that really suffered during my time in the NYC professional rat race.
posted by anthropoid at 4:15 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yep, jogging/running. It takes up a lot of time (change, stretch, run, stretch, shower, change, pass out for a while because you're tired) so you won't have as much time to sit around and be mopey, and it'll really change your whole outlook on life - exercise always makes people feel non-blah. Sure it'll be hard at first (assuming from your post that computer-sleep-repeat means you're not exercising currently), but you'll get better over time and feel so accomplished and proud. The hardest part will be making yourself get out and do it the first time, so mentally prepare for it a few days in advance, and plan out exactly when you will go and just do it! That's the only advice I ever give people when they're blah or depressed, and if they don't want to even do this then nothing will get them out of their funk. Jogging is also a good couple activity, so much easier with a partner!

Other suggestion - cooking! Especially if you're low on money, cooking and eating in vs. going out/getting fast food saves you $$. So spend some time looking up recipes, putting together a recipe binder with the ones you like, and cooking with (or for!) the boyfriend. Or if you live at home or something ask to help cook and experiment with fun recipes.

Oh, and knitting/crocheting? Doesn't cost much to get started, and once again, learn how to do it online.

Or as I suggested here, DDR!

OK, enough from me. Good luck!
posted by KateHasQuestions at 4:42 PM on February 26, 2009

Looks like there are a lot of Meetups in the Vancouver area:
posted by rachelv at 4:42 PM on February 26, 2009

Vancouver events listing. Search for the word free.
posted by metaname at 5:01 PM on February 26, 2009

Unless you're badly misrepresenting your situation, you really are depressed, not bored. The good news is that the antidotes to boredom suggested above, especially physical exercise, are also antidotes to mild depression -- so give it a try and there's a good chance it'll help whatever's wrong.
posted by escabeche at 5:58 PM on February 26, 2009

Honestly, you sound more depressed than bored.

I have to agree with this. Certainly, exercise will help, but you need to think about doing more than just getting a hobby.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:59 PM on February 26, 2009

Contra dance. Seriously. Fun, fairly easy to learn and they teach you how before every dance and call it until everyone gets it. Here's a link to get you started. I see that you have a boyfriend, but if he won't go, go without him. You change partners for every dance anyway, and at least half of the people I know who dance regularly attend without their SO's for whatever reason. Live music and snacks and a nice friendly atmosphere. I've danced in several states over the last year and every dance I've attended has been friendly and easy-going.
posted by jvilter at 6:15 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of volunteer opportunities in the Downtown East Side if you can handle it.
posted by Beardman at 7:14 PM on February 26, 2009

As someone living in Vancouver, I can state without a doubt one of the city's favorite hobbies is photography. You don't have to have a flash camera to take great pictures. Although the weather's been a bit crap lately, it's supposed to be nice this weekend. Get to the seawall and see how many interesting things you can shoot. Or go to the Lost Lagoon and see how many raccoons you can find. Or squirrels. Or swans. Or ducks - good lord the ducks. Or go to Granville Island for interesting architecture, people watching, seagull feeding, or browsing through all the cool shops.

Get out of the maze of identical houses - come downtown and see if you can find interesting places to have coffee or a nice little cafe to have lunch with your boyfriend. Sit on the logs on sunset beach or english bay and watch all the people rollerblade, bike, jog or walk by. Rate the dogs on a scale of hideously ugly to oh god I want one of those! Play beach volleyball at Kits beach. Bring your own ball, but otherwise it's free.

Do you have a bike? Get out of the neighborhood you're in and see if you can find a new area that you think looks cool. Look for shops or cafes that you want to go back to.

Send me a mefi msg if you want more ideas.
posted by kirstk at 7:36 PM on February 26, 2009

Get out of the built environment, down to the sea shore or into the woods.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:44 PM on February 26, 2009

I'll nth the remarks that people have made about depression - but agree that what will help with boredom will help with that so;
My first recommendation is to drastically cut back on your sitting at a computer time. Perhaps limit yourself to checking your email once a day, or set a timer for half an hour and shut down when the bell rings. Seriously, healthwise and mentally, the internet can be draining.

Are you also living in a depressingly identical suburban house? Can you focus on making your environment more inspiring?

Gardening, if you have a patch of dirt-space to play with, is fantastic for beating the blues. You get all these positives:
- Physical exercise (as much or as little as you feel like - you can grow herbs in pots or get behind a spade and go nuts)
- A reason to be out-of-doors (it's too easy to be stuck in an in-the-house rut)
- Creative outlet (from making little sketches of Where The Beans Will Go, to walking the neighbourhood and deploring other people's taste in shrubs)
- Built in reward system (small successes will lift your mood, and inspire you to do more).

Even at this time of the year you can work out a plan, clear up rubbish (dare you to burn it), make some beds and start scrounging/freecycling - even purchasing materials.

If you have any pre-set ideas that gardening is not for you, remember no two people garden alike, or for the same reasons. A garden is a great way to express and develop your personality. I've had a "gardens" in the past which consisted of 40 tinfoil toy windmills stuck in the ground, another which was solely a collection of madly clashing geraniums grown from (pinched) cuttings.

Finally, just wanted to say, I've been where you are now ( a lot of us have!), and it really, really sucks. Bored, that is, I've never been to Vancouver.
posted by Catch at 8:51 PM on February 26, 2009

I agree with the get a job comment. If you're having a hard time coming up with a hobby, why not just get a job, any job, and save and save and save and plan for something fun, like a trip?
posted by Flying Squirrel at 9:41 PM on February 26, 2009

the seawall and the downtown library are the best free suggestions, imho.
other, maybe-not-free-but-cheap options:
blim has beginner knitting classes
plant a veggie garden? i could spends ooodles of hours planning...
the vancouver public space network could probably use some more volunteers
take the bus to deep cove and eat honey doughnuts
take the bus to capilano suspension bridge and hike around the trails
go to wreck beach
go to fuse this friday night
do some yoga at one of the zillion yoga places around town
join an ultimate frisbee team
i have zillion other things that I would do if I had more time, feel free to MefiMail me.
posted by bellbellbell at 10:26 PM on February 26, 2009

Oh, I sometimes get stuck like this, and it sucks to look back on your year and realise you could've spent all that time better. I try to remind myself that having lots of free time presents a great opportunity to do a bunch of stuff that at other points in my life I won't have time for.

You could:
Make an effort to read books instead of the internet. Scan a couple of those lists of '100 best books of all time' or whatever - I bet you'll find at least a couple of things you've always meant to read but never gotten around to. Go and read them outside of your house - in a cafe, at the park, whatever. You could do the same thing with films, but it won't get you out of the house so easily.

Teach yourself or practice some kind of visual art. Learn to draw, paint, do origami, make a mansion out of paddle pop sticks, whatever you want.

Go for more directed walks around the city. Those 'City Walks' boxes of 50 routes are good, but I bet there're some free architectural walks online that you could follow. Pretend you're a tourist. Get a camera and take pictures of things as you go - for me it's not so much about taking great pictures as training myself to appreciate the details. I like taking pictures of interesting door knockers, and rooftops, and street art. Ymmv, but I bet even your boring suburban neighbourhood has some cool stuff if you look at it hard enough. Hell, you could even make an exercise out of trying to see how many identical houses you can photograph.

Can you write and/or are you opinionated? Is there a street press, or blog or something that you could volunteer to write reviews for? That way you will get free CDs or concert tickets or movie tickets, plus the fun of actually writing something. It'll probably also get you out of the house and meeting people when you go and pick up the tickets or whatever.

And yes, I agree with everyone that says you should do some exercise. Maybe you could find a group to join? A running group, or a yoga group in the park or something like that?

Invite people over, even if it's just for a cup of tea! Sometimes you have to be proactive about being social.

I bet there are lots of fun and silly things you've always wanted to do 'when you get around to it'. Learn to juggle, learn some card tricks, yoyo tricks, go to an auction, learn the dance from your favourite music video - have a brainstorm with your boyfriend and see what silly things you can come up with.
posted by Emilyisnow at 10:41 PM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

Sounds like your kind of depressed. Maybe start some kind of therapy at some kind of community grassroots center where you can start getting to know what drives you, what makes you tick and what puts the wind under your wings.
posted by watercarrier at 12:45 AM on February 27, 2009

I have to disagree with you watercarrier about jumping straight into therapy. It's the middle of winter, the OP has very few reasons to leave the house - many people feel like this this time of year. And though it does sound like there are symptoms of feeling depressed, I don't think therapy's necessary out of the gate.

Giving yourself a reason to get up and then actually get out of the house to do something can be incredibly difficult. But once you're outside, even just for a walk or to a cafe to read instead of home, oftentimes, one feels a thousand times better.

If, down the line, the OP cannot actually get out of the house to even try any of the suggestions, then that may be a bigger deal and talking to someone might be a good idea. I think at this stage, the therapist/counselor would encourage the OP to get a hobby.

OP: please feel free to Mefi mail me if you'd like to chat. I've been in your shoes.
posted by anthropoid at 8:34 AM on February 27, 2009

I second the suggestions to start working out and to get a job. I too am prone to prolonged vegetation if given the chance. Getting a job is just practical - it gives you a reason to leave the house and you'll make some money too. Working out is a godsend for me, both physically and emotionally.

Not only does working out lift your spirits by releasing all sorts of happy hormones, being physically fitter also makes you feel more awake and alert, and therefore more productive in general. It doesn't hurt that you'll start looking better too. It's always a nice pick-me-up to look in the mirror and like what you're seeing. It was a bit of a struggle to get started, but once I went to the gym a few times I found myself looking forward to it and being disappointed on days when I didn't have time to go. You'll get a routine down and before you know it, between packing up your stuff and getting down to the gym, working out, then showering and packing up again and getting home, you'll have killed 2-3 hours. Working out with your boyfriend is even better because you can motivate each other. Sweat and testosterone are also known to motivate couples towards other physical activities. ;)

Is there anything that you've always wanted to learn but never got around to? Dance classes? Yoga? Learning to play in instrument? Playing an instrument is a great one for we veggie types because you don't need to leave the house, it can be an outlet for whatever mood you're in, and you'll learn how to make beautiful music. I can spend upwards of six hours at a time learning a new song on my guitar - even though I spent all that time sitting on my ass, I never feel as though I've wasted my day.
posted by keep it under cover at 11:01 PM on March 1, 2009

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