Close your eyes for a minute, and conjure up that delicious feeling you get before going on holiday. You’re brimming with energy , and the whole world seems to take on a different, almost golden-ish hue. Even problems that would normally annoy you pale into nothingness, because you’re high on the fumes of adventure.
Now, compare that excitement to the ordinary pootle of everyday life. You’re bored, perhaps, or a bit frustrated. Days stretch out, pocket-marked by little stresses and irksome routines. Even if you love your life, it can be hard not to feel weighed down from time to time.
But what if you could bring these two feelings together? Take a dollop of that happy, pre-holiday buzz and spread it liberally over the daily grind? Well, throwing yourself into the path of new experiences might just help you do that.
Science shows that openness to experience makes us happier, more creative and even tricks the brain into thinking that time lasts longer. It’s a powerful way to shake off the day, and get a hit of that holiday high. New experiences come naturally when you’re travelling, but they can happen in everyday life, too. You just need to get the kindling going, to light your (figurative) fire.
So, as you lie in wait for your next big adventure, here are 5 great ways to bring a little dose of different to your daily life – and keep fatigue and boredom at bay:
Take a different route home
How many times have you taken exactly the same route to and from work? You do it on autopilot, barely paying attention to how you get there, or what happens along the way. And the whole thing feels like a chore; it’s not an experience, it’s a means of getting from A to B. So, you need to get to work on time – fair enough. But your journey home is different, and ripe with opportunity for adventure. We’re not suggesting you wander around King’s Cross tube for an hour, in search of high jinx. But forget the idea that you just have to get home, and start using the commute as a reason for doing something different. Scrap the bus, and try walking home. There are so many walking apps now that will help you get lost in the best way possible, or plan your route around parks and river walkways. You could also give cycling or rollerblading a whirl.
Read more: Why Flash Pack travel works for introverts
Or, try getting off a stop or two early, and just explore the local neighbourhood. Who knows what you might find? From backstreet delis to hidden cinemas, the possibilities are endless. If you absolutely *have* to be on the train every night, why not vary up what you do there? You can spend one week listening to real crime podcasts, and the next tackling a set of colouring books (adult colouring is proven to relieve stress). Keep changing it up, with a view to stimulating yourself, and warding off the lure of routine.
Join a choir
You get a kick out of singing in the shower – so, how about taking it to the next level? Research shows that joining a choir is a great way of forging social bonds, providing an excellent ice-breaker between large groups of people. It also promotes ongoing feelings of wellbeing and belonging. When you sing with a group, something that’s intimate and internal is shared with a roomful of people, for an effect that is both soothing and energising. It’s been linked the release of endorphins, the pleasure hormone, and oxytocin, a chemical that promotes bonding and trust. The singing itself is fun, but it’s the communal and cooperative aspect that makes it so deeply satisfying. “In our increasingly robotic lives, where we’re more likely to communicate by email and text message than face to face, singing provides a more natural way to communicate,” says Tessa Marchington, founder of Music In Offices. “Singing is a therapeutic tool that promotes happiness, calmness and a profound sense of achievement.”
Joining a choir shares many elements of a classic adventure. You get to meet and bond with a host of new people. You will typically throw yourself out of your comfort zone, doing something that scares you (singing in public), in the company of others. And you never know quite what you’ll come up against next. But each new challenge – or rehearsal – brings a feel-good rush. Get those vocal chords warming up – it’s time for a singalong…
OK, so singing is not for everyone. But one thing we do all share is the inclination to play. As children, fun and purposeless play came easily. We loved to fool around and be silly, just for the sake of it. Yet as adults, we somehow lose the knack. Our release might come from weekend football or other forms of competitive sport – but pure, directionless play? Not so much. Author and psychiatrist Stuart Brown, MD has written a book about play, and compares it to oxygen. That is, it’s a life-giving and vital force that invigorates the soul; but we don’t really notice it until it’s not there.
Read more: Overloaded? Try an unstructured day of play
We can play by doing anything from talking to our dog to taking a “play history” (remembering what you liked to play at when you were a child, and working to recreate an element of that in adult life). Some organisations can help fuel play, too. Antidote London is a growing community of people who recognise the value of playfulness, with workshops that cover everything from giant games of tag to improvisation and drumming sessions. “We run uplifting music, dance and games sessions every week that act as an antidote to the weariness caused by our wonderful city,” they say. “We aim to steer people towards a more joyful life.”
Talk with strangers
Growing up, we’re drilled never to speak to strangers – and it’s a mantra that sticks in adulthood, too. You might be buried nose-deep into someone’s armpit on the morning tube, but you’ll never actually *talk* to them. Avoid eye contact at all costs, right? Well… perhaps not. A 2014 study from the University of Chicago found that strangers who talked to each other on their commute were happier as a result – even when the interaction had no long-term significance. “Connecting with strangers on a train may not bring the same long-term benefits as connecting with friends,” writes Professor Nicholas Epley, leading the study. “But commuters on a train into downtown Chicago reported a significantly more positive commute when they connected with a stranger than when they sat in solitude.”
Read more: 5 great reasons to travel with strangers
For a real shot of daily adventure, try striking up a conversation with a random stranger or two. Sure, it might be terrifying. But there’s a definite thrill that comes from reaching out to others, and not knowing what you’re going to get (two things you’ll get from travelling with strangers, too). Don’t know where to start? Journalist and self-proclaimed introvert Jessica Pan – who overcame her own social anxiety with an experiment to speak to strangers – has a few tips. “Don’t be afraid to ask what you want to ask,”she says. “Self-disclose. Smile more. Find someone with a boring job: they’re much more likely to go off-piste with you. Compliments always work, although some people will presume you’re hitting on them. People almost always want to talk about themselves. They want to talk to you, too.”
Max out your lunch break
Your lunch break stands squarely in the middle of the day; it can either hammer home the daily drudge, or it can give you wings. Yes, you can sprint to Pret and spend the break al fresco, checking emails or mindlessly trawling Facebook. But why not fix yourself up with an espresso adventure, and grab lunch as you go? “You should be as strategic about your lunch hour as you are about your day in general,” says US-based workplace coach Lynn Taylor. “You have the ability to make your lunch hour an invigorating boost to your afternoon by doing what you enjoy… it’s your time to refresh.” Try and take a full hour if you can, and use it a window for soul cake. Set yourself a challenge to learn the basics of a new language, while walking to a different park each day. Plot a food safari of places that are half an hour away or less from your office – and that have brilliant reviews – to try over the space of a month.
If you work in a major city, you may find that nearby universities run lunch hour lectures, or look to local music societies for lunchtime concerts. Alternatively, you can rally you colleagues for group yoga classes, or arrange a lino-print workshop. Or, you could pop to a nearby exhibition, and make it your mission to unearth hidden galleries and studio spaces all around your workplace. Realistically, you probably won’t be able to spend every lunch break doing something epic. But if you go in with the mindset that your lunch-time is an opening for adventure, you’re far more likely to use it in that vein. At the very least, try and vary up the places and people you go to lunch with – and always get out of the office.
And don’t forget…
Handily, you can find all the elements of these daily adventures with a full-sized Flash Pack getaway, too. By travelling on one of our group escapes, you’ll tap into the joy of meeting new people, with incredible challenges along the way. You’ll drink up meaningful and authentic experiences around the world, from climbing a Balinese volcano at sunrise, to taking a night-time boat ride through the jungles of Peru. There’ll be endless avenues for wandering off the beaten track. Creative play and improvisation is all part of the fun of it, as is a supportive group format. So, while you’re reviving your life with a small-scale dose of something different, why not throw in a larger helping, too? Find out more on our adventures page, here.
Photos: Shutterstock, Unsplash and Flash Pack