Having fun in the summer can be free, affordable

Alyssa Cravens, Staff Reporter

Summertime: the perfect opportunity to go on vacation, visit old friends or even take up a new hobby or two.

Every year, I look forward to the break of the summer and the free time it allows.

Though, after so long, the break can get boring, and I am ready for some fresh endeavors.

This season is an ideal time for starting additional activities, trying something outside my normal comfort zone and perhaps even acquiring new insights and information.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas to keep the summer interesting that are affordable for everyone.

Take Up Art

Whether it is painting, drawing, sewing, pottery or something else entirely, getting in touch with our creative sides can be a healthy and engaging way to take a break from responsibilities.

Granted, some of us are more naturally gifted than others, but art as a hobby does not require spectacular talent to be enjoyable or useful.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association tested the responses of cortisol levels in participants after they had made some sort of art and found art-making can lower cortisol levels significantly, therefore reducing stress, regardless of artistic ability or skill.

Join a Book Club or Start a Summer Reading List

Reading and I have had a complicated relationship for quite some time.

In middle school, when I was forced to read so many books in a semester and take tests on them, I loathed it.

In high school, I was too caught up in the social scene to be bothered to read a book.

College semesters have brought so much textbook reading that I did not have time for additional books.

Now I am in a place where I want to relish reading—while actually having the time to do it.

I have found personally that reading is much easier when I genuinely enjoy the content, and thankfully, we live in a society full of people eager to share their opinions.

There are so many wonderful internet resources and webpages for book recommendations, as well as online book clubs, varying in size from just a few members to hundreds of thousands of members.

Celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Emma Watson and Reece Witherspoon have all started book clubs to advance their love of reading and share their suggestions, and the best part is—they are are all completely free.

Of course, purchasing books themselves can be pricey, but there are endless options for getting reading material nowadays; services like amazon kindle and audible grant access to digital and audiobook formats of hundreds of works as well as allow users to pay a small subscription fee or access a number of free titles, and for the old souls like myself who need to have a print copy in hand, the local libraries will rarely fail us.

Practice a New Language

Not only does learning a new language sound like a challenging kind of fun, it also is an incredibly useful tool.

Employers in nearly any field love to see potential candidates who are bilingual or have some knowledge of a language other than their native tongue.

Other potential benefits, according to language gurus at Rosetta Stone, include an improvement in memory, multitasking, communicating and creativity as well as an ease in travel and a larger comprehension of other cultures.

College classes are always an option to learn a language, but some more inexpensive alternatives include buying or renting language learning systems secondhand, or downloading a language learning app such as Duolingo.

Get Outside

This may be the simplest of them all, but the gains are undeniable.

A cool breath of fresh air and the vitamin D graciously provided by the sunshine are the most cost effective ways for me to turn my day around in the summer.

A study by the University of Michigan found that walking outdoors in nature can reduce the chances of depression and enhance mental wellness; in addition, outdoor activities such as running, hiking or biking can decrease blood pressure and lower stress.

The greatest aspects of simply going outside are the endless possibilities: sunbathing, gardening, golfing, fishing, meditating and more.

There are so many outdoor activities, everyone is sure to find something they love.

Alyssa Cravens is a junior communications major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].