As the world somehow continues to spin despite everything, it can be vital to your sanity to take a step back, when you can, and distance yourself from the stress of work, the deluge of news, and the pressure of your responsibilities. Here are the top ten ways to escape reality.
10. Get Back to Reading Books Regularly
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Many of us are so accustomed to reading on our phones, tablets, and computers that we rarely pick up a genuine paper book. It is a simple pleasure that forces to you ignore your phone for as long as you can, and a compelling book will make you forget about everything else that might be troubling you. Depending on the subject matter, of course. For many, the real issue is finding time to read.
You may want to schedule a designated time or even join a book club so that there's a bit of social pressure to get through a book. If you're like me, it may take some time to overcome that constant need to check your phone, but just start with a simple and doable goal like 25 pages per day.
I love the physical nature of having books up there on the bookshelves, waiting to be looked at, admired and remembered. I used to really enjoyed the library and I still do. But when I look at my shelves I realise that I own so many books that I haven't read.
9. Catch Up On Movies
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This isn't brain surgery. A good movie has the power to vicariously take you on a compelling journey and lets you forget about your own troubles for a couple hours. And heck, sometimes a really bad movie is even better. 2016 was full of a lot of great movies and many of them are now available on various streaming services.
It's been a tough year for some of us, but its been a fantastic year for film. These incredible dramas, musicals, documentaries and sci-fi thrillers will help you forget this year's struggles so you can look ahead. These are the best movies of 2016.
I'd personally recommend Sing Street from that list -- an entirely pleasant movie set in 1980s Dublin that follows some young teenagers as they try to start a band. And then they start the band! If you don't subscribe to any paid movie streaming services there are even a lot of sites where you can catch some classics for free.
It's easy to find movies to download or stream, but if you're flying straight and narrow or want to support and watch films that are free, public domain, or whose creators want them free and openly shared, here are some great sites to bookmark -- and visit when you want something new to watch.
8. Explore Television and Film Genres That You Wouldn't Usually Watch
Image via Kimi Nona Official Site
Instead of just watching a dozen reruns of an sitcom in a row, consider dabbling in genres that you wouldn't normally expect to be drawn to. If you usually skip documentaries or a niche like anime seems too weird for you, give them a chance. There are even a variety of lesser-known streaming services that specialise in certain genres.
7. Get Out of the City and Go Camping or Hiking
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Chances are that if you live anywhere remotely near a city, you have pretty consistent mobile service everywhere, all of the time. That makes it difficult to actually disconnect when the notifications just keep coming on your phone. Consider actually getting out the city for once. Go for a day hike. Go on a camping trip. Go somewhere where literally can't answer emails.
Spring is in full swing, which means that camping trip you've been itching to take is just around the corner. Of course, you've also been meaning to buy the required gear too. Don't worry, whether you're a complete beginner or a vet looking to cover your bases, we have you covered.
Taking a hike can even boost your creativity. You shouldn't push yourself too far if you aren't an experienced camper, of course, but you may want to brush up on your wilderness survival skills before heading out and getting offline.
A few hours watching the Discovery Channel can prompt extreme survival fantasies involving frog-licking and urine-drinking, but what about the basic skills you'd actually need to survive in the wilderness? Here's a look at the basics you need to become an adult Boy Scout straight from a cadre of survival experts.
6. Make Your Own Retro Video Game Console
Nonfunctional cake by Sarah Spaulding via Flickr.
The NES Classic was a surprise hit when Nintendo released the miniature console last year, delivering video games from a simpler time to televisions worldwide. It also sold out instantly. But as you likely know as a Lifehacker reader, you can make your own retro game console with a Raspberry Pi.
Since it was released, the Raspberry Pi has been hailed as the perfect all-in-one retro game console. Now, it's easier to do than ever, and it doesn't take any advanced Linux knowledge to do. Here's how to make your own retro game console in about 30 minutes.
If you don't have the urge to actually play on your television and are happy to game on your computer, there are a ton of options when it comes to emulation. For NES and SNES, RetroArch is among the best way to revive old games. And it actually can do a lot more than just Nintendo systems (even though Nintendo is actually the best.) Of course you can play modern video games too, but I have an affinity for the classics.
5. Go for a Swim and Get Some Exercise
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Exercise is a common recommendation as a way to de-stress, but there's nothing quite like jumping into a pool and going for a swim. It's a little intimidating if you're new to swimming as a means of exercising but there's not much to it.
Of course, not everyone has access to a pool. Here's a controversial opinion, though: Exercise, in general, is good for you. And you don't even need any special equipment or facilities. All you really need to do is take the initiative and find the time.
4. Make Something With Your Hands
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I would wager that, like me, you probably spend most of your day at a computer. Most of us work in an information economy in which, broadly speaking, we process and make decisions about different types of data. Speaking for myself, that leaves part of my brain unscratched and bored. That's why I occasionally like to put myself to work on hobby projects completely unrelated to anything at my job.
I don't really enjoy vegging out on the couch. I am paradoxically curious about everything, but quickly get bored when my brain isn't engaged. I always need to be doing something. So, instead of staring at yet another screen when I come home, I've finally found a perfect balance of engaging and relaxing for my evenings.
Whatever hobby project you embrace, wrestling with new and interesting mental puzzles that are far-removed from your job can be very refreshing.
3. Learn How to Cook
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If you'd like to make something that you can actually benefit from, why not finally learn how to make a decent meal? Some people assume that cooking is an intimidating art that can't be learned without natural talent, but you don't need to be the next Paul Bocuse. It's not that hard.
I don't really know how to cook. Sure, in the last month I've made pot roast, steak and multiple kinds of pasta, but they don't count, right? They were easy! Many people think learning how to cook is too hard, but it's really not. Here's how I got comfortable cooking, completely by accident.
Moreover, you can save a lot of money once you learn how to make great meals at home and make it a regular habit. Once you have a decent grasp of the basics you can riff on an infinite number of online recipes and enjoy the labors of your work while forgetting about reality.
Learning to cook usually starts with finding some recipes on the web and trying them out in the kitchen. That's great, but don't stop there. Internet recipes are a great starting point, but they have limitations. Here are some of them, and how you can move on from them and get really creative in the kitchen.
2. Take Up Journalling or Writing in Any Form
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Writing in a journal can mean different things to different people, but the mental health benefits of journalling are well-known. Simply documenting the day's events gives you time to reflect on what's happening in your life, both the positive and the negative; it almost feels like a rudimentary form of talk therapy... without the talking.
Some of the most influential people in history kept detailed journals of their lives. Those journals served two purposes. a permanent record for posterity, and cathartic release for the people writing them. Even if you don't think you need either, keeping a journal has benefits you can enjoy immediately. Here's why you might want to sit down regularly to jot down your thoughts.
That doesn't necessarily help you escape from reality, of course, but it does help you deal with it. For a more literal escape, you could try your hand at fiction or poetry. Writing a book is an intimidating prospect but you shouldn't hold yourself up to anyone else's standards if you're just doing it for your own benefit.
Evernote is a cross-platform app that works something like a digital filing cabinet. We've talked about why so many people use it and how you should probably give it another try if you're not hooked already. But today we want to take a closer look at how you might use it for something specific. writing fiction.
1. Actually Take a Holiday and Get the Heck Offline
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You might have trouble believing this, but you might want to consider taking a holiday once in a while. Burnout is a very real thing and it's best to nip it in the bud before you're so exhausted that you can't work at all.
Once you recognise you're burned out, you can pull yourself back from the ledge, but it'd be best to never get there in the first place. Luckily, the signs are usually right in front of you. you just don't want to see them, or you're too busy actually working to recognise them. If you keep an eye out, you'll be able to cut off burnout before it takes hold so hard you can barely get up for work.
So consider taking a holiday. Actually do it; don't just stay home from work and then do your work anyway. If your line of work makes it difficult, plan as much in advance as you can. Even if you're obsessed with getting things done, chances are you'll more productive when you come back.
The whole point of a holiday is to relax and relieve stress, but all too often, you need a holiday after your holiday to recover from your time off. Here are ten tips to make your holiday the stress-buster it really should be.
So relax a little, why don't you.